Tot ziens, 2021

At certain points in our lives, unwittingly we entered a new chapter without the ability to realize and properly bid farewell to what has passed. Just a few weeks back I read somewhere on how we have unseen some of the ‘last times’ happening to us. The last time you’re gonna listen to a song because it’s off the charts and people will soon forget about the song, that last group project of your bachelor’s degree course because you’ll soon be graduating, that last travel with a particular group of friends because life happens and we ought to move on.

Being able to properly say goodbye to 2021 is something I’ll never take for granted. The year has given me so many new values, purposes, experiences, and memories. Too much has happened, good or bad, and each one will remain inside of me, at least in this writing, making it unlikely that I’ll forget. In an ode to celebrate the passing of 2021 and to welcome 2022, here are some of the best moments of mine during the magical year of 21 (I was born in 2000 so technically 2021 is me, although partly, being 21).

I don’t recall much about the first day of 2021, but I found the first picture I took in 2021: the moon. Early January was all about finishing my first semester at the University of Groningen while packing for my departure to the Netherlands. And soon it was about time for me to leave and start the new and ‘brief’ chapter of my life (To this day, I still think that this whole double-degree thing is a year for me to just have fun and study, with a degree as a bonus). A day before departure (more precisely January 20), my best friends Fatia and Kamila came to my place for a sweet farewell.

Soon enough, I found myself adapting to the cold wind of Groningen, enjoying all my small walks from my place to the groceries store, purchasing and got my bike stolen, spending every day of the week with my friends, and solely depending on myself in most of the mistakes and decisions I have taken. On most days, I feel a sense of freedom (which is a privilege in itself) of living alone in a foreign country, but for some days it gets grey and blue in the corner of my room, but alles is goed.

Days went by, winter turns into spring, to summer, and it circles back to winter in no time. Living thousands of miles away from home, I found myself adapting to four seasons full of love, tears, and laughter with friends I’ve found that feel like a family. Home feels so far away, keeping in touch with people is trickier with geographical and time distance, but they would always find their way back to be connected. One call every few days, weeks, or sometimes months was enough to keep me close to them. This was about the time I realized that even in a relationship, quality matters far more than quantity.

In the recent release of Taylor Swift’s All Too Well (10 minutes version), she quoted “It’s supposed to be fun, turning 21”

During this chapter, I got to travel around to places I never knew existed. Summer in Italy, Autumn in Paris, and Winter in Belgium and France. Today I look back and wished I could travel more often, but this much is already a blessing. In my imagination, me being 21 during a pandemic is nothing but sanitizing. To my surprise, I feel super content about turning 21. I guess I was much luckier than Taylor on this one, though pandemic is still happening during my year.

I got the winter blues during the end of fall and the beginning of winter in 2021. My functionality went down significantly, I am struggling to fight the sudden cold weather that is swallowing me. It was then that I realized I should’ve prepared myself more for this to come. I call this wintering. Instead of suffering in the cold, I turned the season around into one of the best moments of 2021. I hung up lights all over my room to make it look magical, contacted some of my friends that I’ve lost touch with, read more books to reach my book-reading goals, and took more afternoon walks around my neighborhood a bit more often. By early December, I feel super energized and can see winter as a festive season.

I spent my Christmas holiday traveling to Dusseldörf and my new year with friends from my Yogyakarta days in Brussels, Bruges, and Paris. I would say that this holiday is some of the best I’ve experienced in a while (probably due to the pandemic). All in all, 2021 has been a VERY good year and I would never trade this for anything else. I am happy to say that I am closing this ‘brief’ chapter of mine in a good situation and I have a good spirit to start 2022 in a positive and hopeful manner. So long, short, and fast 2021.




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