• ria@mtrrch

2020: The Wrap Up

Here. We. Go.


Okay I could try and be really 'where do I even start, what does this all mean' but that's boring and redundant. Let's run it down.


In short: a car crash of a second year cut short, lockdown, unbelievable amounts of personal healing, the loss of my Dad and Dadima, Matriarch Community (yes that was this year), major growth on this beautiful platform, managing to pass second year (?), crying and more healing, a fabulous start to my final year (considering the circumstances) and huge, absurd amounts of tea.


It has really all gone on.

Going into 2020 I was, admittedly, rather intimidated by the year ahead and this was before Coronavirus. I was making big decisions about personal ties, who I was spending time with and most importantly who I was giving my love to. One thing I have really learnt in many ways, in many relationships in my life is actually valuing my love more and where I place it. The way I see it, we all have love that we use in different ways and after being burned a fair few times, I became a lot more conscious of where I was placing it. I would later come, in around April, to experience a major epiphany recognising this and watching a brilliant Ted Talk by Sarah Knight, aptly titled The Magic of Not Giving a F***. It is brilliant and I would totally recommend to anyone who is going through a bit of a reckoning with their personal relationships. Watch it here.

Life lesson learnt: my love and time is valuable and it reflects in who I entrust with it.


The beginning of the year was also the start of second term of second year. Now, a term into my third and final year, I can tell you - second year was the worst one, for many reasons, not just a global pandemic. I've talked about this many times on the blog and Instagram so I'm not going to explain again in too much detail, but coming to second year with first year expectations was a huge error in judgement. Then, towards mid-March, the level of panic was at an all time high as the pandemic was becoming more of a reality. Suddenly, priorities were not which clubs we were going to but how I was going to get home and in fact, if I was even going to go home. Living with 6 other people complicated this somewhat and at the time, having such little knowledge on this virus was creating an inescapable, apocalyptic environment. Ultimately, I would make the decision to go to my sister's, Sita, in London in order to protect my family at home, with my Dad and Grandma being particularly at risk. That would be a good solution as Sita's flatmate Lauren had gone back home, meaning that whilst we weren't together as a family, at least we had each other.


Enter: lockdown.


When I first got to Sita's, we weren't quite in lockdown. Actually, looking back on it, we were far from where we are now in terms of protocol. I remember going into an Aldi in Streatham where no one was wearing a mask, you were just trying to stay away from people and yes, I have witnessed a fight over toilet roll - it's like pandemic bingo. It's funny to think about this now, how little we know, how unknowingly brave (or naïve) we seemed. And actually being in London for the pandemic I think increased this apocalyptic feeling massively. Even at the height of it, some people could not seem to maintain their distance from others in a huge common. But alas, this is now nothing new. It was very early on in my stay with Sita that I was ready to launch Matriarch Community. To this day, it is one of my proudest achievements ever. Since December, I felt a real sense of community building in Matriarch and wanted to somehow grow this. I thought of the idea of sharing other people's stories but with such a tumultuous second year, I never got round to it. Then with such an atmosphere of panic, I felt this was the perfect time to launch Matriarch Community, to lend my platform to someone on the front lines and who better than my best friend, Kate who was volunteering at a hospital at the time. Her post was brilliant and really set the tone for the other 14 incredible community posts this year. As always, Matriarch has been so good to me, my space and salvation for which I am so grateful. I have an unbelievable amount of love and care for you all.


The 3 months, nearly end to end, I ended up staying at Sita's would be entirely sobering and what I can now reflect on as a rehab-type escape house. I went from uni life where I was drinking absurd student-type amounts of gin, going to the gym (ish but not towards the end), and feeling rather frustrated that I had no lectures or seminars due to strikes. Being taken from that environment to Sita's was the drastic change I needed. Suddenly, I couldn't go out to distract myself, I couldn't see friends and it was all just incredibly sobering. Being pulled away from uni life that wasn't benefitting me, where I wasn't healing from personal struggles and having to go cold turkey on it all, facing things I had been avoiding was exactly what I needed. It took me weeks to appreciate, Sita and I really had our moments where we'd argued like we never had before all because me struggling at uni had started to effect who I was. This was our low point. But lots of tears and a constant replay of 'Put Your Records On' by Corrine Bailey-Rae later - we were healing and we were growing. I also wrote my first poem, started working out again completely consistently - we were getting there.


A unexpected milestone.

Every evening, as many others did during this time, at 7pm our family would have a facetime. It became the highlight of my day. On the 16th of June, we had one of our longest calls where me, my sisters and my Dad were joking around and winding him up. I even have screenshots from this call where we teased Dad for getting tan lines from his glasses after spending so much time in our garden at home. The next day, completely out the blue, my beautiful Dad passed away. It was completely sudden and the world was suddenly redundant to me. Again, I have written a fair deal on losing my Dad and grief, so I won't delve into it here but it was the milestone, the vulta in not only my year, but my life. The day that person dies in your life, you change - infinitely.

As Dad always did, he brought us home, even if it was in the worst of circumstances. We were finally all home after the longest we've ever been apart as a family. Then, the period between June and September, the next 3 months, were totally family and healing focused and looking back on them I wouldn't and couldn't have spent them any other way. It was the first time I had never wanted to leave my house during the summer and did not want to spend time with friends. Covid in a way was a blessing for grief. Seldom do people have the oppurtunity of time away from people when you're grieving. Not having to deal with a stream of people and being able to make tea and look after ourselves rather than them was one of the few things that eased that time for us. Not even 3 months later, my Dadima (grandma) would also pass away. Grief started to feel like a familiar friend, rather than a total stranger, as it does in many people's lives.

Life does go on.


The age old adage. It does go on. And I had some lovely moments.


In July, Matriarch had its first anniversary. A whole year of Matriarch! It was such a proud moment for me but slightly overshadowed by a very sudden viral moment for one of my BLM resources. This was an even prouder moment that I was using my platform for this fight and this resource was actually useful to people. Suddenly, there were an influx of people who were part of Matriarch moving from about 800 to 3000 followers in less than 2 weeks. This was an internal debate for me and still is, having gained traction from a movement so important to me, but this large audience and exposure has only kept pushing me to use this platform in the ways I have always endeavoured to - to help and spread any love I can.


In other news, I picked up running in August and it was actually one of my proudest achievements this year. I never, ever thought I would be able to run for more than a minute and just a couple of weeks ago I ran my first 5k. It is truly an incredible feelings, something I am so relieved that I picked up in retrospective. It was so key in continuing my healing as well as working through my grief and of course, taking care of myself both mentally and physically.


Soon after, before I even knew it, I was back at university for my final year. I have to say I was incredibly nervous, naturally, but it was the reinvigoration that I deeply needed. Seeing my friends again, even in Covid-regulated situations was a balm and just being able to go to the pub - small things really matter, something that I think we've all learnt over this year. And despite being all online, I just fell back in love with my course after such a messy second year. I love my house this year, our dynamic is just so brilliant and I always feel comfortable. Not once have I felt lonely or singled out which can be very common during grief, and I have always felt comfortable to express that. To my house - thank you, I appreciate you all so much for that. And we have had a lot of fun as a house, needing to be a bit more inventive with horror movie nights, wine and cheese nights and True American. It's been really fantastic - my best first term, again despite the circumstances.



And that leaves us here. On the cusp of a new year. I think we've all been burnt and learnt our lessons with expecting this to be the year of our lives and all that. But in many ways, this was the year of my life as I mentioned at the start. All I hope for is continued joy, stability and even more tea.


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