How 2020 Changed Me

Firstly, I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to my followers and anyone else who might be visiting this site. Hope you all had a pleasant, albeit slightly-different Christmas.

Mine was a bit of a blue one. First world problems and all that, but I was affected by the fact that the Christmas just gone didn’t feel all that Christmassy. But then there was also the problem that I always find it hard to switch off anyway at Christmas (it doesn’t help I have a part-time job in retail), mainly due to the fact that I have that sort of brain. And I think I may be affected by SAD to a degree.

But I always love the promise of a new year, and especially so for 2021. I think many of us will agree that 2020 was a year we’ll quite happily leave behind. And yet I can’t say that 2020 was a very difficult year for me, personally. I am fortunate to still have an income, and to know no-one close to me who has died from COVID-19.

There’s a certain guilt in saying it, but I pretty much thrived in 2020. Sure, I was affected by the news and social media, and worried a lot about the state of the world and what the future might hold. But hey, I’m an INFJ, so I pretty much do those things anyway. All that really happened, was the outside world began to resemble some of the dystopian novel/tv series ideas of my inner world.

I know it’s not over yet, and there could be worse to come. But to quote the wise sage Hagrid, “What’s coming is coming and we’ll meet it when it does.” I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I think many have conditioned themselves to expect the unexpected now.

The rapid shift to the online realm of work, education and entertainment meant I could finally, more completely align my daily life to my visions and goals.

But outside of these concerns, when I disconnected from the news and social media, I found a sense of peace and contentment. I enjoyed spending more time at home, enjoyed the greater proximity of nature and the peaceful nights. The rapid shift to the online realm of work, education and entertainment meant I could finally, more completely align my daily life to my visions and goals. I was now less restricted by living in a relatively rural part of the country. I began to get a freelance income – something I’d long dreamed of but was difficult to obtain pre-2020.

I did numerous training courses online, read more, took up actual hobbies and upped my fitness regimen. I even improved my diet. I started learning another language, and got inspiration from current events for a novel I’m in the process of writing.

So yes, I would say I thrived. And I have entered 2021 with the ability to drop another day at my retail job because I no longer need the money – I’m making enough income from freelance writing to support me.

True, I barely leave the house now, and that would be an issue if it were long-term, but hopefully it won’t be, and fairly soon we’ll be able to go to gyms and live events again.

I have changed. Something has clicked: I feel like I’ve found my niche. And having read similar articles to this, I know I’m not the only one. I think it’s great that many saw the opportunity to improve their lives and they took it.

How did 2020 change you? Did you view it as an opportunity in disguise? Or was it more personally challenging? I always like to read different viewpoints, so please feel free to comment or write a response post.

A Christmas Note

Just a quick note to thank my new readers and subscribers for this year. I appreciate your support and feedback. This year has been a year like no other – the world is changing and alas, we must change with it. There are many bad things happening in the world right now, but I am incredibly thankful that this year at least I seem to have found my calling, and things are clicking into place for me. I’m enjoying my work and looking forward to new projects in the future. I have a big list of things I want to accomplish next year, and I’m especially looking forward to reaching out more and trying to connect with like-minded people. Yes, I’m an introvert who works from home, but us introverts still need love, right?

I would like to wish anyone reading this a happy Christmas and new year. Remember the more important things and let’s march on into the future!

Until next time,

Nicola

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What is Lo-fi Music and Why Is it so Popular?

Lo-fi music has become a major genre during the global lockdowns of 2020. Many people have found themselves stuck at home all day, trying to find the motivation to do work, study and chores, with more time to kill by going online, and the growth of lo-fi music has been the result.

So what exactly is lo-fi music?

It’s a form of downtempo music with elements of hip-hop and jazz, featuring breakbeats, sampling and textures such as environmental noise and vinyl scratching sounds. Samples are often taken from old films. This gives it a cosy, often nostalgic sound, ideal to relax to or as ‘bedroom music’.

Lo-fi music is found on popular streaming sites such as Spotify and also has dedicated YouTube channels, the biggest of them being ChilledCow. ChilledCow’s animation of an anime girl doing her homework has become an internet meme, such is the popularity of the channel.

It is indeed an ideal music genre to study to, which is probably why it has been especially popular for younger listeners. Unobtrusive enough to have on in the background but stimulating enough to keep you awake, it helps you maintain your focus. ChilledCow also has a chat function, so provides a place to hang out for people seeking connection during these somewhat isolating times, with many users opening up about personal issues.

The genre has not escaped criticism, however. Detractors have accused lo-fi creators of being lazy, as much of the music is essentially similar-sounding, and easy to make, with creators able to make their own material on apps such as Bandcamp (I myself have recently become a dabbler in Bandcamp). It has been argued that all you really need to know in order to create lo-fi music is how to sample (haven’t quite learnt that bit yet).

But it’s the sampling that really makes the difference. You can put a unique flavour on lo-fi music depending on what you choose to sample. A couple of my favourite lo-fi channels on YouTube include one which samples vintage songs and another which samples the Star Wars films (this last is especially fun).

And lo-fi music’s popularity shows no sign of dying out. The numbers speak for themselves: at the time of writing this article, Spotify’s biggest lo-fi playlist, ‘Lo-fi Beats’, has over three and a half million followers. And ChilledCow has nearly seven million subscribers.

Clearly, for many internet users, lo-fi music creates a safe space to work and study. The chat room functions also fulfil a social need during these strange times. The music is not always necessarily all that pioneering, true. But if it’s helping people, can we really knock it?

Many more people work and study from home these days. Without a dedicated workspace or office, lo-fi music helps create a kind of cocoon that reduces outside distractions and, due to its downtempo, calming properties, helps reduce anxiety.

Because we do seem to live in an age of anxiety. Whether it’s economic anxiety, the stress of living through lockdowns, or anxiety about COVID-19 itself, many people are increasingly escaping into the aural realm for relaxation.

I think millennials especially are drawn to lo-fi, and the evidence does seem to point to that – feeing the need as we sometimes do for a nostalgic, safe space to retreat. When we have fears about the future, the past is often a safe place to escape to.