The Twenty-Something Series: 2020 all wrapped up

Hello, strangers! How are we all doing?

It's been a while since I wrote any new blog posts, and I'm sorry for that. In all honesty, I've started a dozen or more posts before deleting them and never uploading anything. It's hard to know what to say, this year.

For my part, I've probably, actually, mostly, fared okay. Which is a big part of the reason why I was so reluctant to post anything: I know I've been luckier than a lot of people, so it seemed arrogant and thoughtless to devote whole blog posts to it. My friends are scattered about so in a regular year, we don't meet up more than once or twice; I'm used to speaking to my family on FaceTime every day; I could already work from home and am used to being on my own, and I'm not much of an 'outdoorsy' person, so nothing felt like a major shift there, either. 

Not that it's all been easy-breezy, but like I said - I know I've been luckier than others, and I've coped pretty okay. (Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that one of my coping tactics was reviewing movies - but more on that in a second.)

And those of you who've followed my blog for any length of time know that, for the last few years, I've posted a 'wrap up' post, looking back on things that happened that year. And, I'm a glass-half-full kind of person who (in spite of the occasional rampant anxiety) likes to keep things positive... Which is why I figured, to hell with it, let's do the wrap up post for the year even if it's been such a bloody weird one!

All the goals I failed at

I love setting goals for myself at the start of every year, and there were plenty I missed this year. There were two books I had planned I hoped to write - and didn't. I wanted to go on holiday with two of my friends from university, which we did book... and then, obviously, had to cancel. I wanted to go to the theatre more (again, goodbye any plans of that), vlog twice a month (eh, not exactly...) and read twenty books (which would've been achievable, but I just missed this by a mile).

I was pretty frustrated with myself a few weeks ago, when I looked back at my list of goals for the year and realised how many had to be scrapped, or just wouldn't get done, now. And then I remembered I had to cut myself some slack because, you know, pandemic, and remind myself of all the good things that had happened.

Releasing two books and a movie!

Right at the start of the year (and what feels like a lifetime ago now), The Kissing Booth 2: Going the Distance was finally, FINALLY, published, after seven years of work. And then, slightly pre-pandemic, we released The Kissing Booth: Road Trip! a short story for World Book Day

I'd had all sorts of hopes for what might happen when The Kissing Booth 2 came out on Netflix this summer - I'd hoped there might be a premiere I could go to this time, or that I could have some big party with my friends and family, or... Well, obviously, none of that panned out, but it was still incredibly exciting to have the second movie come out - and I made sure to celebrate with plenty of prosecco and some fancy balloons. I mean, what else do you do, when you're stuck home alone and trying to mark the occasion?

Oh, and one more movie... and one more book!

If you remember this post from last year, I wrote the first draft of a new YA book in under five weeks. I had to keep it under wraps for obvious reasons, but this summer we finally announced what that book was... The Kissing Booth 3: One Last Time! The book will be out at the same time as the movie and is available for pre-order now, in case you're interested, and both will be out next summer. (Date to be confirmed, though!) 

It definitely led to a lot of excitement on social media for a while, and has given me something else to look forward to next year! And speaking of the book...

The brand-new book, and the old ones, too

Of the five books I wanted to work on this year, I worked on three of them: I finished edits on a new adult book I've been working on for a while, finished all the edits and proof reading of TKB3, and finished the first draft of my new Christmas book (yay!) 

I can't be too annoyed at myself for the two I didn't work on, though, because I didn't see myself writing a brand new book that was a collection of short stories set... in lockdown. (Shocker. Wonder what inspired that...?)

I started writing a book called Lockdown on London Lane back in April, posting it on Wattpad. The idea was to have five short stories following a cast of twenty-somethings on lockdown in the same building, all intertwined slightly - like Love Actually. Now that was a HUGELY fun project to throw myself into for a few weeks, and posting on Wattpad gave me a way to connect to a community for a while, which was also a big help when I was (and still am!) an extrovert living alone and unable to meet up with anybody. 

I didn't expect anything to come of it, but amazingly, it's now going to be published by Wattpad Books in Winter 2022! (I guess I'd better crack on with edits, huh?)

Beth's Movie Reviews Nobody Asked For

Something else I didn't anticipate doing this year was starting to post a whole series of movie reviews on my Instagram Stories. I love watching movies, and one of my coping mechanisms when the lockdown started was posting on my Instagram about what movies I was watching. I don't know why, but I kept on doing it, and people were responding to it (including my friends, so I'm truly honoured there) and it turned into something I really enjoy. Not that I'm about to make a career as a movie critic, but it's a fun little thing and I've found it makes me enjoy the movies even more. 

My favourite part was when people messaged me asking if I was going to start reviewing Christmas movies, though, which led to a 'spin-off series' of sorts. As if I needed another excuse to watch The Santa Clause yet again...

Learning another new language!

Now you guys know I love my Duolingo lessons. I've been learning German and Portuguese over the last couple of years and this year have been determined to keep it up daily (or as near to as I can!). I'm now up to a 316 day streak and have recently added Polish to the list - although I'm still very much beginner level there, and my pronunciation is pretty bad, but I'm having fun learning!

Hitting my (vague) savings goals

Last year, I figured out a way to budget that finally worked for me, and kept it up for most of the year. This year, I kept that up, but made a tweak where I set myself a savings goal. I started out with the idea of saving a set amount each month but quickly adjusted it to saving whatever was 'left' of my salary from my day job each month - a habit I'm glad I've kept up, and intend to keep again next year. Although honestly, it probably helped that my 'socialising budget' for every month was pretty minimal (unless there was something like a virtual escape room to accommodate for) and that I did my best to avoid too much online shopping to see me through lockdown. (Although I did have a splurge on some fancy pyjamas right at the start of it, and honestly, I have zero regrets about that.)

A little on seeing friends and family

Like I mentioned at the start of this post, I don't always get to see a lot of my friends anyway. We all live in different parts of the country and most of them have partners and it gets tricky to coordinate getting everyone together... It's a whole production. But actually, I've probably seen a lot more of my friends this year than I usually would, which is really lovely! If things do go 'back to normal' next year, I hope all the video chats for virtual games nights and drinks is something that will stick around.

On the flip side, I'd usually be home every couple of weeks to see my family. Since lockdown started in March, I've managed to see them... I think three times? Never for very long (and obviously I've made sure to 'isolate' for a while beforehand to reduce the risk) but I'm glad I've been able to see them some. Plus, we finally got my mum and auntie to figure out how to create a group FaceTime call, which definitely made things easier.

Looking forwards...

There's a lot of weirdness from this year, and today I'm spending New Year's Eve treating myself to some nice food, champagne (bought on offer, of course, because I'm a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to things like that), watching Paddington on the telly, and a night of trivia games with my family over FaceTime. 

It's weird, and there's a lot of uncertainty still about next year, but I'm choosing to feel hopeful, especially with the recent news of vaccines. I'd say good riddance to 2020, but... you know, trying to keep it positive, and all that.

There's not a lot I can control, but there are things I can - like spending an evening watching a new movie, keeping up my language learning, or working on new books. Now, I guess, I just have to figure out what I want to focus on that I can control in 2021. (Which means a night of journalling ahead for me - yay!) 

And I think all that's left to say is that I wish you all a Happy (or at least, Happier) New Year... and I'll see you all in 2021!

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