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2021 – A Review (It Was Pretty Bad)

People say that 2020 was an awful year and I understand why. COVID hit, lots of people were laid off, told to stay at home, and governments were being generous with their lockdowns that seemed to drag on and on for many people around the world. For me, 2020 was a somewhat positive experience in many ways. I had recently come back from a trip to America, so I think I was holidayed out for a while and still don’t suffer from that great itch to travel. I had more free time due to our reduced work hours (with full pay). We were encouraged not to go out but there weren’t any real restrictions put in place, and anything that was implemented only meant that I’d be saving more money, drinking less, and reconnecting with some my hobbies and also picking up writing towards the end of the year. I even started this blog! I think a lot of people did put a positive spin on it (starting a language, learning how to play an instrument, etc.), all to varying degrees of success and longevity but all-in-all, I’m under the impression that 2020 was basically shit.  

2021 was that year for me. As much as I can try to be positive about this year, overall it was a bit naff and none of it was related to COVID at all. It’s time to take a painful look back at my 2020. (Yes, it is going to be a glum.) In no particular order:

Work Anxiety 

This is not something new to me. I think I’ve probably had work-related anxiety ever since I started working but it seemed be amplified this year for some reason. Even back when I was a teenager at my local fish and chip shop, the anxiety I got from fumbling around with fish, worrying about forgetting people’s orders (yes, it is possible! It’s not just fish and chips!) and being under the constant watchful eye of the manager was enough to make me feel extremely anxious. (I worked there only once and they didn’t ask me to come back. How disastrous is that?)  

Everyone experiences this to an extent, I am sure. I’d be very surprised and very envious of anyone who didn’t, but this year was easily the worst anxiety I had ever experienced and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. It’s difficult to pin point the exact reason why but it was enough for me to consider quitting at the beginning of year while I lay in my hospital bed after the accident. People say that accidents often allow for people to look at their life and consider their options and I can say that this was very true for me.  

The Accident 

For regular readers and those close to me, they will know that during the first quarter of the year I had a little tumble with my bicycle that resulted in a surprising broken hip, a mere week or so after I wrote a piece on how dangerous cycling in Japan can be. The irony.  

Thankfully the initial recovery didn’t take as long as the doctor had predicted, so I was out of physio within a month or so after the accident and surgery. Even after that I had to continue going to hourly physio sessions for a few months afterwards, but that didn’t last as long either and with the compensated days off, I didn’t have to worry about losing any pay as a result. In that respect I am grateful of the situation (COVID-19) but I would have rather have kept my hip intact. Although I have been able to get back to full mobility, I doubt the occasional pangs of pain will ever truly go away. I also seem to have developed an ultra-sensitive sixth sense for identifying dangerous cyclists, pedestrians etc. I haven’t had an accident since, but God have there been many close shaves! I think I’ll draft up some campaign posters for awareness… Fat lot of good that’ll do, I’m sure!  

A work of my own creation. Quite effective, I think.

The Other Accident 

Yes, there was a second one. I am glad to say that this wasn’t an accident that happened to me. Had it been me, I highly likely would not be here writing this right now. While the other half was away, I came back home one night slightly tipsy to find that one of my cats had torn his way through a screen net on one of the windows and fell seven floors to the ground below. A few inches forward and he likely would have landed flat onto the concrete, but I think a tree and bush broke his fall (and possibly even the power cable may have knocked him back). He got away with a broken pelvis, a very expensive surgery and subsequent (expensive) one-month stay in the vet’s but thankfully survived and is happily running and jumping around today (albeit with slightly less hair at the back). Needless to say, we signed up for pet insurance immediately afterwards.  

Look at this cutie!

Another Accident 

I nearly forgot about this one. This one is a bit embarrassing, but I was involved in a car accident which I believe was mostly my fault. It was dark, the road signs were confusing, etc. But I am aware that the other driver probably didn’t do anything wrong. It was just a little scratch the other person’s car; no-one was injured and it wasn’t a great deal but I consider myself a very good driver and this was the first road accident that I’d been in that was my fault, which definitely knocked my confidence a bit. It wasn’t just the accident, but I think the communications with the other driver and the insurance company that came after it as well. Thankfully it was a rental vehicle and I think I’ve paid my dues already. The insurance company were actually very helpful in telling me to ignore calls from the other driver, who apparently shouldn’t really be calling me directly and at the time of writing this I am not totally sure if it’s still really over, but I haven’t heard anything in some time, so I can only assume that all is settled. Fingers crossed! 

The Death of my Grandfather 

Earlier this year we had to say goodbye to Granddad. He was a ripe age and not in the best of health mentally. I don’t remember ever really seeing him much as a child and only got to talk to him when I was nearing my departure from the UK (from what I remember, anyway) and soon after that his Alzheimer’s got worse. Conversely, I’d say that I saw him more after coming to Japan than I did before I left and every time I did see him he didn’t remember who I was and it wasn’t possible to have a lucid conversation with him. However, he did remember his time as a child and some of the brief coherent conversations you could have with him were about this time in India. COVID meant that there wouldn’t have been any feasible way for me to go home for the funeral, but I was able to join virtually through YouTube. Seeing my family in real time at the funeral was surprisingly very difficult and understandably made me to want to be there more. Despite my reservations to the Internet a lot of the time, this was a prime example of it doing itself right.  

Onwards and Upwards 

It’s funny. When I first had the idea to write this, I genuinely thought more terrible things had happened to me this year, but it turns out perhaps there wasn’t. That’s not to say what happened wasn’t terrible, though. I’d say the level of terribleness is pretty high but maybe I don’t have to be as negative about this year as I thought. There were plenty of good things that happened this year as well that I shouldn’t forget and even in writing this I feel refreshed and comforted in being reminded that there was good also. But I would describe 2021 as a bit of a tease. COVID was nearing defeat only for there now to be another variant which looks to throw us back a year with new lockdowns and travel bans. When will it end?

Next year is just around the corner, which means more new year resolutions and a quick look back at mine from last year. I wonder how many of those I achieved…  

Until then I’d love to know everyone’s ups and downs of 2021 and would appreciate it if you shared either my email or in the comments section below.  

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