2020 is a year that many of us will remember for a long time, and not for the right reasons. People lost jobs, were evicted from their homes and faced financial hardship. Some said goodbye loved ones, or battled their own physical and mental illnesses.
And even if the brunt of the pandemic didn’t personally affect you, you likely won’t have seen family or friends in many weeks. We’ve had to find new and inventive ways to spend our free time. (See also: the lockdown sourdough trend.)
What about 2021? Well, there’s still a global pandemic, the NHS is under extreme pressure and the economy is basically on its knees. At least this time around, we have a glimmer of hope in the vaccine. And, despite not being able to book a holiday or arrange IRL social events, people are finding joy and anticipation in the smaller things.
We asked five people about what they’re looking forward to this year.
“The Queen’s Gambit inspired me, and I’m excited to learn chess again”
I’ve been trying to look for ways to have fun again, in an attempt to divest away from the constant pressure to work a certain amount or define myself in a certain way. I just wanted to use my brain for something completely different. I really want to do things for fun without the pressure of needing to turn it into a marketable skill or the means to an end.
I tried to learn chess when I was younger, but to be honest I just didn’t get it at all. But after watching The Queen’s Gambit, I’ve been re-inspired and excited about giving it a go again. I’m taking it a bit at a time. I’ve found that playing a game or two with my brother every day has been both fun and also really beneficial for my mental health. I’m excited to keep at it and get better. Ariane, 22.
“The sea invokes a sense of freedom that none of us can really have right now”
I didn't really go to the seaside much pre-pandemic and being from London, it was always a schlep. But I was on a work placement for the last academic year, and I was suddenly really isolated from my friends. I would often go and visit my friends, and they happened to live by the sea. It meant I was calm there, away from a really stressful job, and with the people I loved.
The sea invokes a sense of freedom that none of us can really have right now. I’m itching to see the sea again for that freedom, but also just to fill the hole where nature and peace is meant to be. I would love to feel like that again. Bethany, 21.
“My camper van is going to quickly become my safe place on wheels”
I bought a camper van at the end of last year, and I’m already so excited for it to arrive. After years and years of saving, it marks a huge milestone for me. It represents independence, freedom, and a symbolic move away from an abusive relationship. It’s taken me a few extra years because of this, but I’ve eventually been able to save, and it honestly couldn’t have come at a better time.
In a time where so many of us are feeling claustrophobic under restrictions, when the promise of a 2021 summer feels like a distant fantasy, when the outside world feels increasingly dangerous, I just know this new purchase is going to quickly become my safe place on wheels. Evie, 26.
“I can empty my mind of everything other than skateboarding”
Skateboarding has always been an interest of mine and I did a lot of it when I was younger, but was never very good or dedicated. I spent most of the time smoking cigarettes on top of the half pipe. And then at the start of 2020, I decided to buy a new deck and went to my local skatepark and fell in love with it again. Not only is it a social thing for me, but I also find it a great way of meditating too. I can just empty my mind of everything other than skateboarding.
The lockdowns have given me more time to skate, so it’s been especially beneficial recently. Plus it beats staring at a screen all day. It’s also something I can measure my progression in, and that’s really important to me. To have that sense of achievement and accomplishment. And I’m eager to keep at it this year. Sam, 26.
“Live music is the embodiment of pure pleasure and emotion”
I think live music has that ability to move you more than anything else, and I’ve missed that. The way that people react to music is completely different to the way they react to any other art form, and live music is the embodiment of that pure pleasure and emotion. Big groups of people usually give me anxiety, and going to gigs should induce it, but not when you’ve got a flat, over-priced beer in your hand and the support act is doing bits. I would happily take an elbow to the face if it meant being able to go to a gig this year. James, 23.
“I can’t wait to be able to bask in the wonderful company of my friends”
I can’t wait to be able to bask in the warmth of both the heady London summer and the wonderful company of my friends. Last year was difficult for many people, and I’ve felt grateful for the privileges I had. However, one of the hardest things for me has been the prolonged distance between myself and my friends. I always struggle with the colder, shorter days of the English winter, but I usually have the comfort of spontaneous nights out on sweaty dance floors with my friends to get me through – something I wasn’t able to access last year.
I feel so lucky to be able to surround myself with the wonderful, inspiring, queer-as-all-hell individuals that I’m honoured to call my friends. The nights that we’ve had together, having dramatic photo shoots in the streets, running through the rain to queue up outside venues, and holding each other’s hands in the smoking areas of clubs, have filled me with the most unadulterated joy. I can’t wait for us to reclaim that collective euphoria as soon as it’s safe for us to do so. Prishita, 23.