2021 has been truly awful. I thought 2020 was bad. But 2021 has been the worst. The continuation of the pandemic and the state the world is in is just miserable. My mental health has gone through a full-on rollercoaster including the need to take some time off of work and suffering through bullying in the workplace for the third time in my life. Plus, my relationship ended so it’s not been a bed of roses. I’ll certainly be glad to see the back of it.

With all of those negatives, it can be hard to stay positive, but I have got a few things to be positive about. This year, my puppy Milo joined the family, bringing with him all the chaos and joy a (not so) little Springer Spaniel brings. I joined an amateur dramatics society and have been cast in the choir for The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 2022 on the stage of the Theatre Royal Nottingham. And I’ve moved into a new role at work. So, things are hopefully beginning to look up, even just a little bit.

At the start of the year I set myself a series of goals to try to get me out of my rut, and now is the perfect time to see whether I managed to meet them or not.

1.     Write at least one blog post every month

Well, this definitely happened! There were certainly more poems in there than I expected and I was also a lot more open about various things than I ever thought I would be on the internet.

I think the blog I’m the proudest of is ‘Depression and Me’. I’ve always wanted to write about the struggles I’ve gone through, but I don’t think I ever managed to find the confidence or the desire to really tackle the things I went through when I was younger and the things I still face. Writing that blog was liberating and the amount of people it seems to have helped makes me know that it was worth it. Now, just to see how long it’ll take for me to be able to write something that impactful again.

The Blogs

January: Writing for me | Writing for you

February: A Journey of References

March: How ideas become stories

April: Buttons

May: Depression and Me

June: Broken

July: An Ode to Milo

August: Finding Time

September: Pen to Paper

October: A Confidence Booster

November: Press Start

December: Reflecting on 2021

2.     Lose weight

I was determined on this one, but wasn’t sure how it would go. I think I ended up piling on even more in the run up to my sick leave. But since then, and especially since Milo, I’ve managed to get myself back down to the weight I was when I graduated from university six years ago, which is a win in my book. I think on the whole, I’ve lost about a stone from what I’d gotten to. So, not quite the 22 pounds I was hoping for and I’ve backslid a bit in the last couple of months, but a stone is still great progress and I’m proud of that.

3.     Finish my gaming backlog

I achieved this with aplomb! Those 5 games were beaten and I even managed to beat another 11 games this year which I certainly wasn’t expecting to achieve considering how long some of them were and the challenges I’ve had in fitting in my gaming time around Milo. But I’ve done it and that backlog is now empty so I can just enjoy whatever games come my way without guilt!

Games I’ve beaten this year:

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (PS2)
  • Enter the Matrix (PS2)
  • Bayonetta 2 (Switch)
  • Kingdom Hearts Final Mix (PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (PS4)
  • Balan Wonderworld (PS5)
  • New Pokémon Snap (Switch)
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure (PS5)
  • Final Fantasy VII REMAKE: INTERmission (PS5)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5)
  • The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (Switch)
  • No More Heroes 3 (Switch)
  • NEO: The World Ends With You (Switch)
  • NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… (PS4)
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits (PS5)
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs The World The Game (Switch)

4.     Read at least 12 books

This was another great success! I only set out to read 12 books this year, but I’ve managed 25. Some very long and some very short, but that’s double what I hoped to achieve and that’s incredible. It’s been so much fun getting back to literature and feeling the joy of reading again. It’s wonderful!

Books I’ve read this year:

  • A Heron Born by Jin Yong
  • War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
  • Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams
  • Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
  • Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  • The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
  • The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
  • The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  • Kingdom Hearts III, Volume 1 by Shiro Amano
  • Pokémon: Sun & Moon, Volume 9 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto
  • Pokémon Adventures: Black 2 and White 2, Volume 3 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto
  • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom
  • Pokémon: Sun & Moon, Volume 10 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto
  • Pokémon Adventures: Black 2 and White 2, Volume 4 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto
  • Pokémon Sword & Shield, Volume 1 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
  • Pokémon: Sun & Moon, Volume 11 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto
  • Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov

5.     Finish a first draft of A Place Where We Belong

This is probably my greatest failed goal this year. I started with the best of intentions but only got another 10,000 words written throughout the entire year. Disappointed doesn’t describe it.

But with that said, my Dad has read what I’ve written so far and he says it’s good, it just needs a few tweaks and obviously finishing. Since I’ve managed to get so many other things and meet all of my other goals, while it’s disappointing that this one failed, I know that I’ve got it in me to meet it next year. And you’re damn straight I’m going to get this book finished next year. The Burning Ash is not turning 5 before this sequel gets published.

And that’s 2021. Throw in watching over 120 films and short films and god knows how many TV series; plus the year theatre returned (and I managed to fit in 11 shows into the last 6 months of the year) and it really has been a year of consuming some truly wonderful content and having amazing experiences in spite of everything else.

Long may the wonderful experiences continue, please let the awful ones abate at least for a year, and I hope that 2022 will finally be a year to truly enjoy.