2020 Year-in-Review & 2021 Word of the First Quarter

I just re-read my 2019 Year-in-Review & 2020 Word of the Year blog post, published a little over a year ago. When I look at all the stuff I got done in 2019, all the places I went, all the people I spent time with, I am struck by how different 2020 has been. We all know it, but I’ve actually become inured to it. And then I read something like this. Cons. Travel. Flotation therapy. All things I haven’t done in 2020.

Because, you know, global pandemic.

But I still did some stuff in 2020!

  • Pre-pandemic, I defended my dissertation proposal.
  • I revised that proposal and submitted it for IRB review.
  • I then changed my dissertation scope twice.
  • I collected all the data for my dissertation.
  • I analyzed all the data for my dissertation.
  • I drafted my dissertation. (All of that was accomplished in 10 months, which is pretty impressive.)
  • I conducted 3 interviews for my research assistantship.
  • I analyzed 14 interview transcripts for my research assistantship.
  • I managed having the house painted.
  • I had plumbers out at least 3 times. (Probably need to get on a service plan.)
  • I presented a virtual poster at Fan Studies Network North America.
  • I learned about and tried different methods of stress relief.
  • I planned a special private birthday video chat storytime for M’s birthday with his favorite storier, Mr. Jim.
  • I managed virtual preschool/unschooling from mid-March to mid-December. (Cutting the kid & myself a break during his school’s break time.)
  • I kept going.

My word of the year for 2020 was FULL, specifically filling my well and being my full self. I think I’ve succeeded brilliantly, so yay for that. I also wanted to read for pleasure, play video games, and pursue my core desired feelings of ease, creativity, and connection. I’ve done all that stuff, too! So even though 2020 changed a LOT of my plans, I still did what I hoped to do. That’s pretty cool.

One of the things I realized this year was that daily projects don’t suit me, for a variety of reasons. I need a little more flexibility. So I’m giving myself permission to do daily projects my way - which is to say, to focus on increasing how much I do the thing, rather than being sure I do it daily. So I read more poetry this year than ever before, but I didn’t read a poetry book a day every day in August. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

I’m also realizing that natural cycles are the best way for me, personally, to measure time. So I’m setting goals and planning in quarters instead, specifically Wheel-of-the-Year-style quarters. So from December 21 to March 21, my goal is to get my dissertation done and, ideally, defended. (The defense may be closer to the end of March, and that’s fine.) I don’t know what comes next after that, and that’s okay.

And I’m selecting a word of the quarter, which may turn into a word of the year but I often find that by mid-March, a new word has revealed itself. My word for the first quarter of 2020 is PLAY, which I’m using in its broadest possible sense. So I’m going to try learning to play some of the musical instruments I have around the house, playing more games, trying new art forms, and deliberately engaging in purposeless activity.

I hope you find a way to have fun, regardless of what 2021 brings.

Image Caption: This is what the best days at pandemic preschool look like for us: different kids on screen together, all pursuing work that lights them up. (M. is in the foreground and his classmates are actually hidden behind their work.)

A white boy in Spider-Man pajamas paints while a laptop in front of him displays a video call with other young children.

Kimberly Hirsh, PhD @kimberlyhirsh