Warning: you need a nice long drink to read this…
It is customary to write a eulogy when you have lost a loved one, filling it with beautiful memories of shared moments. But what do you do when it eulogy is for one of the most horrible years of your life? Dig deep, very deep – that’s what!
I keep running into that meme on social media – 2020 made you strong, 2021 will make you happy. I can’t begin to tell you how much I hope this is true, though I cannot deny that everything I went through in 2020 made me stronger than ever. It’s not the time anymore to bring out the dirty laundry. What passed is past, and all I can do is learn from the events, the mistakes, and make sure it / they never happen again or turn up at my doorstep.
That is probably the most accurate word to describe 2020, and I can’t even blame it all on COVID-19. Truth be told, I blame myself for being so naive and trusting, for wanting to give and love unconditionally, to be accepted for who I am, as I am, and be encouraged along the way. But when you get involved in the evil web of narcissists and frauds, the emotional abuse that takes place shreds your soul to smithereens. So I am entering 2021 with eyes wide open, all barriers on high security alert, and trusting only those who have long entered my inner sanctum. The rest are going to have to work ten times as hard to earn my trust, and I am no longer in the mood to rebuild bridges that have been burned down several times. I have the scars to prove it.
in addition to being a victim of fraud, working hard to recover from various financial setbacks, and learning along the way how much I still have to learn about living in Germany and being a responsible citizen, I run into treachery around every corner. In the past I operated on the principle of everyone has good intentions towards you until proven guilty. It’s not a bad thing to believe either, but it is disastrous for business, and allows others to lay an even bigger trap for you. This ranges from fraudulent websites to shabby products, and outright liars who pose as legitimate businessmen. So I learned to do my background research before purchasing, and my days of investing are long over. I need to invest in myself and my soul before someone else’s pockets.
The latest treacherous manifestation that I stumbled across is the recent wave of hacked social (mostly Instagram and Facebook accounts, though Twitter is not immune to it). I thought this had been left for dead and buried back in 2018, but there is a new trend that emerged in December of hacked Instagram accounts, to which not even the verified accounts are immune to. The hackers take over your information and content, send out DMs from your account to all your contacts. But when the contacts try to respond, they end up in a carefully set up mirror account. The cyber security gurus are all clamouring for us to activate the TFA – two factor authentication if you haven’t already done so. It is a pain in the butt to work with, especially if you use external supporting apps to upload to Instagram for example.
This section should probably be called Support the Underdog instead, because this is the year that spelled disaster for artists and small businesses (I use artist in the broadest sense to include photographers, photojournalists, investigative reporters, musicians, performers, etc). Anyone whose financial existence depends on travel, on-location work and personal interaction with clients has suffered tremendously this year making us all incredibly vulnerable, fragile, and doubtful.
On the other hand, 2020 wasn’t a total waste at all. We learned. We all discovered new and true meanings of the words
How many of you learned to cut your own hair and that of your family this year? Those who were not brave enough to do so probably embraced the new jungle look or said to hell with the pharma industry, I am going all grey. I learned that home studios are fun, uncomplicated, and to some extent, very cat-friendly! More importantly, it is also budget-friendly. The creativity that emerged from this pandemic is admirable, just listen to all those podcasts that probably never would have seen the light of day if the professionals behind them carried on with their regular work.
This is one word whose meaning cannot be taught in a classroom. Life is the only teacher, and the integrity of your soul is the final examiner. I learned to bend, almost to breaking point, but by God’s grace found the strength to snap back and live to fight another day. I faced psycho-social, financial and emotional stress this year, even unemployment, but I also found long-term stability and finally understood the meaning of defining moments.
An overused, misused and misunderstood word, the turbulent global situation of 2020 taught us that no man is an island – both in the positive and negative sense. All it took was for one person to carry the virus into the community to trigger and unprecedented chain of events. All the doctors, virologists and healthcare workers in the world cannot work miracles on their own. We are co-dependent on each other, and the only way out of this mess is a consolidation of forces.
So I leave you with this image, which I found in my archives while decluttering my hard drive these past days. I used it to re-launch my Instagram page with the new concept.
Many of the Berlin subway stations have a unique flair to them, either nostalgic or historic, some hysterical, while others are absolutely cinematographic. I shot this back in 2019 and re-edited it to visually summarise this particular point in time and the social condition we currently live in. We are not out of the dark just yet, but if we walk together then the shadows remain just that, shadows, and not imaginary demons or conspiracies that threaten to disrupt the equilibrium of our lives.
Walk with courage and determination towards the light, mindful of the others who walk alongside. So here’s to all the strong people of 2020, who will be happy in 2021!
Happy New Year!