I’m writing this as we navigate our first out of state road trip. To be honest, road tripping ain’t my thing. I’d much rather get on a jet plane and arrive at my destination immediately. But because of the Rona, we decided to brave the long drive. This is my first trip in 2020 (sigh) and my younger son’s first trip outside of Texas since 2015, after his two cancer relapses.

You would think after year(s) of travel deprivation, we would choose a destination with a fancy winter wonderland. But no. We are on our way to sweet home Alabama, with an overnight stop in Jackson, Mississippi. Double sigh.

Brief stop at Vicksburg, Mississippi, to visit a Civil War battleground

Believe me, these would be the last places on earth I would dream of visiting. I’ve never been a southern girl at heart, albeit having lived in Texas for 19 years. Honestly, Texas is the farthest south I can tolerate. Oh, and you would think after nineteen years, I’d slay some of the southern slangs such as calling everyone y’all. Nope, still stuck at you guys which (I think) makes me a true blue Californian. Always have and always will.

The Governor’s Mansion in Jackson, Mississippi
Edmund Pettus Bridge, the location for the Bloody Sunday, where Civil rights voting act marchers were beaten
This is Uniontown, next to Selma. We couldn’t believe a city this poor exists in the USA, one of the richest nations

But my son met a cute girl online (through the world of Gen-Z gaming) and they became close friends. Like really close. They’ve been communicating for more than a year and after a million texts and FaceTimes later, they decided it’s time to meet in person. So here I am, punished by my snobbery and the lack of amorous desire for the deep red south, uncomfortably sitting in the car for what feels like a million hours of misery before reaching our final destination (are we there yet???).

Yeah, it’s all about the girl.

Nah…..actually, it’s all about the boy. Who, in his young 16 years, has lived an agonizing life. To keep depriving him of happiness is an unspeakable crime.

Bamboo Forest in Prattville, Alabama

But this post is not about Alabama or our road trip. Not about the girl or the boy either. It’s all about 2020.

I’m still salty about 2020. It deprived me of celebrating all those momentous events that would’ve taken place this year. Missing the opportunity to see my son graduate from Stanford was the most heart-rending of all. Forget about the trips I missed. Those countries will still be around. But the graduation is a once in a lifetime event that could never be replaced.

I’m not going to write about how much I hate 2020 and how it ruined some of my plans for the year. Everyone already knows about that secret. But I’ve had some pretty rude awakenings (and some reawakening) this year. And that’s what this post is all about.

I just realized it’s already December (I’ve lost count on the days), meaning it’s almost the end of this fabulous year (please detect the sarcasm). I can’t believe it went like a blur.

Ok that’s a lie.

It actually went painfully slow and oh my god I can’t even count all the times I cried this year. Go back to my previous posts if you don’t believe me. I think I have poured out all my feelings in my blogs, writing all about my anxieties, fears, and miseries this year. That’s because I write better (and more deeply) when I’m sad or depressed. Although my brain’s so cloudy recently that I haven’t been able to write one meaningful blogpost since the last one. Not even in my occasional (or should I say frequent?) depressed state of mind. Although I’ve had difficulty expressing my thoughts lately, I’m desperately trying my best to motivate myself to write this blog. I don’t usually write about year end posts but because 2020 is such a lunatic year (an understatement), it surely deserves a write up.

While I’m in my deepest thoughts, or in one of my usual crazy moods, or most likely when I’m sobbing in the bathtub for the nth time, I would amuse myself and ponder this question: what is this year’s silver lining? What did I learn? 2020 is a major soul searching year for sure. It has exposed a layer of truth about us, some of which we were never aware about ourselves.

The site for the slave market, where the slaves of all genders were auctioned. What a sad time in history.
Your politics reveal who you are

2020 proved that anything can happen. From famous people suddenly dying, wild fires in California and Australia, a virus that caused a world pandemic, masks and social distancing becoming the norm, the shortage of toilet papers, climate changes, massive protests about racial inequality, to an unprecedented election in the USA and a madman who wouldn’t concede. Wow! Can this year ever get any worse?

The political division in America has been apparent since Trump took office. In the beginning, I tried to tolerate Trump supporters because some of them were my friends and sadly, family. It took four years to finally break up with them due to our unsolvable political differences (or so I thought). I can no longer ignore their toxicity and if it has to come down to divorcing them from my life then so be it. I’m sad this happened but I’m not sad I stood for what I believed in. They say, your politics reveal who you are. Unfortunately, they revealed their true colors, and they weren’t the colors I approve of.

Alabama Capitol

Challenges kept me sane

The universe has once again found a way to imprison me but to prevent me from going insane, I used my hidden strength to keep me preoccupied by challenging myself throughout this pandemic. I pushed myself out of my comfort zones. I learned to bake in spite of my aversion to baking), I turned my walks into completing a 490 miles walking challenge (as we speak I’ve completed 75% of this challenge), forced myself to conquer my fears, and I kept a journal and wrote more than usual (the journal writing is the most difficult task thus far because of my unpredictable mood swings).

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King was a pastor

I am my perfect company

Despite all the social distancing, quarantines and lockdowns, I still feel the urge to be alone. As an introvert, I need solitude. A lot of people don’t understand this concept and make the mistake of referring to being alone for being lonely. On the contrary, I am actually happiest when I’m doing things by myself: taking baths, long walks, watching a movie, hiking, sitting at a cafe, reading a book, and traveling.

There’s comfort in knowing that my perfect date is actually myself.

I’m not a homebody

Despite being an introvert, I realized that I am not a homebody. Mistaking being alone for being lonely is similar to mistaking introverts to being homebodies. There is nothing wrong with the desire to be home all the time. But the lockdown made me realize that I always feel the need to be somewhere else, to be constantly on the go, whether I’m going out for simple walks around the neighborhood, going to the mall, or traveling to far away places. Speaking of traveling, the lack of it is seriously giving me withdrawals. This pandemic forced me to stay home everyday and I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown (okay, a bit exaggerated, but I am indeed restless).

I’m not afraid of covid

When I took a few days of staycation in Dallas by myself in November, not only did I need that time away from my family, but it also proved I’m not afraid of covid. The lack of travel or being extra with my PPE is not due to my own fears of covid. I’m more afraid for my son. God forbid, if he gets covid, it’s a matter of life or death situation. Covid doesn’t scare me because I know how to protect myself and I am very conscientious about hygiene. And if only my son had no pre-existing condition, I wouldn’t live my life in fear. I probably would still venture out on my solo travels and socially distanced visits with my friends.

I need to prioritize myself

I am grateful and love the people in my life. But as much as they bring me joy, they have also been the source of my stresses. I followed my husband establishing his career to different cities and across the seas. I dedicated my heart and soul to be the best mother to my kids. I’ve cherished all the years tending to their needs and as far as I know, I have done an amazing job fulfilling my responsibilities. But it’s time for me to start taking charge of my own life and owe it to myself to make me happy.

When I found the culinary school in Ireland, I knew it would be met with opposition. When I first mentioned it to my husband, he asked how long the program was. I said three months. I could hear him mutter something under his breath. “Can’t you go for six weeks first?” I knew that was his subtle way of letting me know, “no, you’d be gone for too long!” But he knew he can’t say that and so he had to approach it with asking if I could cut the time short. I said no. Eventually he realized this wasn’t just a phase and knew he’d lose if he opposed it. He is now supportive of the idea. At least that’s what he tells me.

The truth is I’m not going to Ireland to become a chef. It is a way to escape my life in order to find myself. As guilty as I feel about leaving, I have to fill the voids in my soul. I’ve been broken for a long time now and leaving is the first step in learning to prioritize my own happiness before anyone else’s.

I like the new badass me

When a few of my family members exhibited their true colors, I decided to unfriend them, initially in social media, then it turned into real life. These were the people I grew up with and were closest to me. I’ve always thought they had my back but I was so wrong. It wasn’t their political stance that truly ended our relationship, but politics was the last straw. I have finally realized how self-absorbed they were. It’s been several months since we last talked but I haven’t really missed them. They have continually hurt me in the past, and it no longer made sense to keep them in my life. And just like that….I stopped talking to them. Never did I think I could cut ties with people who were close to my heart. But oh yes I did!

For years, I have tried to simplify my life. Less is more have become my mantra. My holidays used to be packed with festivities (translate that to stressful). I fully decorated the house. I had lavish parties. Each year, I handmade Christmas cards that included pictures of each kid, of our vacations and stories of each of our achievements. But eventually I grew tired and discovered the beauty in simplicity. I announced this new found conviction to my family and my husband wasn’t too keen about letting go of the Christmas cards. I told him he can continue the tradition of writing them without me. So he did. This year, however, he asked if I could help him and I firmly said no. He tried to make me feel bad about my decision and in the past, he could successfully get me to comply by guilting me.

Not. This. Time

I learned something about myself this year. I can be badass AF if need be.

Hmm…you know what? I think I like the new me!

For years, I’ve been hearing my inner voice whisper in my ears: You don’t have to keep people in your life just because…You don’t have to live your life according to other people’s perception of how you should live your life. Live your life for YOU. Make yourself happy. Follow your own heart. Yes, I’ve been hearing that voice. I just needed to listen.

I listened when I put an end to toxic relationships. I listened when I did not budge and was firm about my decisions.

I can guarantee it’s not going to be the first or the last time I’m going to listen. It’s not going to be the first or the last relationships I will end. It’s not going to be the first or the last time I’ll say no. It’s not going to be the first or last time I’ll stand up for what I believe in. It’s not going to be the first or last time I’ll follow my heart.

Because life is short…..you only have one shot at it.

Be the badass you can be 🙂