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An Ode To 14 Low-Key Life-Changing Things That Got Me Through 2020 And Into 2021

Some big, some small — but all, to me, were important.

In a year that's had more bad news than all the bad news in the rest of my life combined, there were several things that helped make things a bit better along the way.

Some big things, some small things. But all, to me, were important. I'm not a huge fan of forcing a "silver lining" on bad situations (see: 2020), since sometimes acknowledging "the bad" can feel pretty cathartic. But as we head into 2021, I'll admit that making an inventory of all the stuff I got done this past year has made me feel pretty freaking good about myself. And I would add making this very list as one of the things that's made me smile just a little bit this year, too. 😌

1. I paid off my credit card debt thanks to, of all things, a podcast.

2. For the first time in my life, I experienced the world adapting to my introverted self, instead of the other way around.

3. I created routines that actually worked for me — and then stuck to them.

4. I read a book that made me feel more seen than any other book in the last few years.

Photo from a page of Cathy Park Hong's "Minor Feelings," with an underlined excerpt that reads, "To grow up Asian in America is to witness the humiliation of authority figures like your parents and to learn not to depend on them: they cannot protect you."

5. I got closer to friends nearby.

6. I got extremely into YouTube workouts.

Photo of Michelle's workout station, with a pair of dumbbells and two smaller filled-up water bottles doubling as lighter weights.

Now here are some smaller, but still-significant things made 2020 just a little bit better:

7. I upgraded from a mattress on the floor to an actual bed (that I assembled myself!).

8. I watched my plants unfurl new leaves in real time.

9. I made micro-adjustments to my apartment.

The writer's rug perfectly aligned to the floorboard

10. I grew out my lifeless, dry, and broken bleached hair.

Writer with a short haircut, after having cut nearly all her old blonde hair

11. I tried dozens of new recipes.

Homemade German kale stew with smoked sausage and boiled potatoes

12. I wrote lots of birthday cards.

13. I had the most chocolaty croissant of my life.

Chocolate-filled croissant

14. I got a subscription to a magazine based out of my former hometown — and it satisfied my homesickness.

Screenshot of New York Magazine website

What are some the things — small or big — that got *you* through 2020? Tell me in the comments below.