2020

I know that most of us want to completely forget the past year and focus on a possibly brighter year ahead. 2020 was bleak and even though I was fortunate enough to not be affected by the pandemic in terms of loss and work, I still felt the heavy weight of this year on my shoulders. However I have to say that I have learnt a lot about many different things this year and so I really wanted to properly say goodbye to what has been a pivotal year for all of us.

I tend to only broach this topic during my yearly check-ins and I was really hesitant to mention that this year because it is something very personal. But I have mentioned this before and I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of their struggles – we need to speak out more on mental issues. As I said, I have hinted at this before but I’ve been struggling with my mental health for quite a while now, and I started the year in a very bad place. I had been hunting for jobs during the last half of 2019 but couldn’t find anything. I had to accept the fact that I wouldn’t get a great job straight out of uni, and so I applied to literally every entry-level job I saw. I was in a very bad place financially and I’m not someone who copes well with uncertainty and having no purpose, so this was a very difficult time. I then found a job and it was nice to get a little bit of money in the bank but I knew from the beginning it wouldn’t do.

When lockdown started in March, I struggled even more because I felt like my whole life was my job in recruitment and I didn’t even like it that much. In the day, I would look at CVs, cover letters and job descriptions. In the evening, I would edit my CV, write cover letters and look at job descriptions to get a job in publishing. It was all very repetitive, and I think my brain assimilated the two and I started getting very upset when someone would get hired at work because it felt like everyone was getting their dream jobs but me (which I know is completely ludicrous as 2020 has been terrible for many who lost their jobs and struggled to find a new one). I just felt so sad and empty, I couldn’t even sleep properly anymore.

I was on the waiting list for therapy all that time and I finally got assigned to a therapist in the Spring. It helped me so very much – I can’t stress that enough. It sounds silly but being confronted with your own thoughts and words on paper or in someone else’s mouth makes everything sounds completely different. I realised what was wrong and what I needed to do to let go of unhelpful thoughts. I am still working hard at giving up my old thinking pattern, but I already feel so much more like myself – something I hadn’t felt in years. The NHS is a wonderful system and we need to applaud it – not at our windows, but by voting for people that would fund it properly. I would’ve never been able to get the help I needed if it wasn’t for the NHS, and I know this is the case for many, many people in the UK.

In the summer, I’ve also been accepted into the Society of Young Publishers mentorship program, SYP Into, to help people get into publishing. I got paired with the most helpful and lovely mentor, and I’m so glad I got to meet such a wonderful person during such a grim year. I feel a lot more confident that I can get a publishing job and I’ve even had several interviews since I became a mentee. I also learnt a lot about what I want and don’t want in my career, and I think that’s really useful because when we start we tend to accept everything and that’s how we end up being taken advantage of. Publishing is a very competitive industry though, and it’s been even worse this year, but I’m hopeful I will find something for me this year.

Finally, last year I started this blog and photography again – two hobbies that are very dear to my heart. It’s been a joy to share my love of books on here again. I have taken a break recently because I’m still not quite healed yet and I know now that it’s better to just stop and rest, than desperately trying to exhaust myself and go around in circles. I have spent the holidays with my family in France, which was lovely as I hadn’t seen them for a whole year! I’m back in the UK and in quarantine now, so I hope to be able to bring some nice content in the coming weeks.

This was quite personal, but it’s nice to check-in every now and then. I hope you all have a good year, may it be filled with laughter and great books!

Mid-Year Review

Today, I won’t review a book but how my year has been so far. This is a very selfish post as it is a very therapeutic thing to write. It feels good to take a step back and see what I have achieved these past few months – something that can be difficult when you’re in the middle of… well, your life.


The first highlight of my year was to actually find a job after months of desperately applying to any entry-level role. Of course, I started by focusing on publishing jobs but I quickly understood that I had pretty much the same CV as everybody else and needed to seriously work on gaining new skills. So at the moment, I’m not doing exactly what I wanted but I’m very happy to learn new skills in a professional context – and having a salary, obviously. I realise how lucky I’ve been as I started my job just a couple of months before lockdown and was able to keep on working from home.


And how can I mention the beginning of 2020 without talking about coronavirus and lockdown? This has been a strange time for everyone. In the UK, I am not convinced that the crisis was taken seriously soon enough and as a result, we suffered from a very high number of deaths. Now that the lockdown is easing down people seem to be going back to normal, which feels strange to me. I am happy to be able to go out again but I’m being careful and conscious of others’ vulnerability. Yet, we’ve booked a little weekend away by the sea as we are slowly going stir-crazy in our tiny London studio flat. I miss fresh air and I’m really looking forward to stretching my legs and walk on something other than concrete for a couple of days. Lockdown has changed us all and I think we realised the value of slowing down, the importance of green spaces, and that it’s okay to not do much at all.


We are living in such extraordinary times, a lot of bad things have happened this year but it’s important to look at the bright side. It made me very sad that people needed to see a man die in a video to take full measure of the racial issues that are engrained in our Western societies, but I feel that things are changing. I hope that the momentum will keep going and that we will see our world become more diverse and open to others.


On a personal note, I finally found the courage in me to refer myself to get therapy at the end of last year. It was nerve-wracking to admit that I was unwell and needed help, added to the long wait to actually get to see somebody (not blaming our wonderful NHS workers here, obviously). I have properly started my sessions during lockdown on the phone, and I can already feel a change in me. I feel more motivated and have more goals: getting back to posting on here is one of them, and it makes me so happy. I also try to be more active in the book/publishing community (which is so incredibly lovely by the way, I still can’t believe how nice everyone is to each other!) and refocus my attention on what I want to achieve with my life – at least in the next five years. It’s a long process and it takes time, but I feel very hopeful. 


I’m not sure what the rest of 2020 is going to look like, and I don’t know if anyone needs to hear that but please, hang in there. We’ll get through it – with lots of books and cups of tea. x

2020

With the end of the year approaching, I reflected a lot on my year and more generally, on the decade coming to an end. I first wrote a very long post (in bed at 3 am 👍) in which I went over the events of every year, from 2010 to 2019, as these have been the most challenging and traumatic years of my life. It was a painful process and I cried a lot, but it made me feel a lot lighter. Now, obviously, that was too personal to be shared online so I decided to focus on the positive instead, for the start of the new year.

2019 has been a strange year. For most of it, I was busy doing my Master’s degree – busy being an absolute understatement. I feel like I barely lived this year as I was so stressed and nervous about the various essays I had to write and my dissertation due for the end of the summer. I had NEVER written a research essay before this year (in France, we only have finals so if we had to write an essay, it was an exam room for four hours… quite different), let alone a thesis. I felt behind and I doubted myself constantly, undermining my progress and achievements. Writing up the dissertation proved to be especially hard as I was alone all day, behind my desk or in the library. My mood dropped significantly and I found myself in dark places I knew too well. Of course, job-hunting did not make things any easier for me, despite my good results and a whole month of reading and relaxing. Maybe I haven’t really recovered from the black dog, yet. I still have days when I just cry for no reason and feel so incredibly sad and empty. Days when I just cannot leave the house because the world is too scary outside. A full night of sleep is a sweet memory, because I feel so restless at night.

Okay… but where’s the focus on the positive?

Well, I feel more positive than before because I finally decided to face the fact that I am not feeling good and that I need professional help. I also acknowledge that yes, perhaps I’m still not quite recovered, but I am so much better than a few years ago. I am taking back control. I have identified the sources of my problems and although it hurt at first, I’m distancing myself from them. My biggest achievement of the year might be that I’ve finally quit smoking. I feel so proud of me. I bet that most people thought I’d be the last one to quit a few years ago! It makes me feel so much better and happier (and my bank account too is very grateful). My heart feels lighter now. It was just a crutch I used to feel cool and calm. I have certainly embraced my uncoolness, and somehow feel calmer now that I don’t have to plan my whole life around ‘will I have time to have a cigarette? Do they have a smoking area? How am I supposed to not smoke for four hours?’. With regard to my health, I have discovered yoga this year and it is pure joy. I want to practise yoga more regularly this year, for my mind more than for my body.

I’ve also pushed myself recently: I took part in book clubs and went to have some drinks with groups of women I don’t know. It’s hard at first but then, I realise that no one knows me so I can just start with a clean slate. I am Sophie and I’m free to be whoever I am.

I shall be stepping into 2020 with lots of care, I don’t want to get too carried away. I shall put all those negative memories behind but keep the drive that allowed me to go this far. New decade, same – but improved – me.

Oh, and a MA graduate! 🎓

graduate
I look so tense… a natural poser 💁