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2020 has been a year of uncertainty, sadness, and mental strain. But: was this ACTUALLY the year we needed to improve? We think so...

It was the turn of a decade. A new beginning. As we counted down on the last day of 2019, twenty-twenty vision couldn’t have seen what this year really had in store for us. 

365 days later, we’re waving goodbye to (and fleeing from) one of history’s most eventful years (and we aren’t even talking about the launch of Isodate #subtlekeywords). When all is said and done, we really went through a lot together in 2020. How do we even begin to explain these stories to our future grandchildren? As we gather around an unsocially distanced fireplace, doe-eyed cherubs ask us, “Grandad, did you cry when Gal Gadot sang Imagine with all of her A-List friends?”, “Mimaw, did you body pop to Savage Love on TikTok?”. Or even the, ‘What made you fall in love with Poppa on your virtual speed date?’. Ah, to the future! 

As this year draws to a close, the only wisdom I can impart, I guess, is what I learnt during these unprecedented times. To cut a long story short, this is a resolution free zone. I’m not going to act like writing a list of promises on the 31st December, means that you have your life together. In fact, ‘having your life together’ is an obsolete expression after this year. So, gather round my metaphorical children! Here’s what I uncovered during the big 2-0.

Adversity breeds resilience

Life isn’t a race. I learnt that big time this year. For so long, I have always felt the underlying pressure to excel. From birth, we are programmed to believe that progress = success.  A treadmill of shiny promotions, thriving love life, perfectly balanced mind, the list goes on. Of course, social media has only amplified this: at every turn there’s someone telling you to eat better, train harder, or investment in bitcoin.

While these are admirable milestones, they can also be a recipe for burnout. Being honest with myself was the most liberating thing I did all year. Clothes fit a little tighter, my ability to sustain app-based conversation has dissolved (while my longing for face-to-face interactions has found me welcoming the likes of virtual speed dating in a way that I never thought possible). Oh, and I’ve faced more rejection in six months than I have in my entire life. I’m sure I’m not alone in that; and… shock, horror: there’s nothing wrong with that.

More importantly, there’s nothing wrong with you. When life has done a 180 on us, you don’t need to explain yourself. If you can handle this, the anxiety, the worry, the uncertainty, and come out the other side, well my friends: you’re doing fine.

You do you

Hand over heart, I have always been an advocate for celebrating others’ achievements. With social media and more time on our hands, it is easier than ever to witness other people’s successes: from the fitness fanatics to the humble home baker, or perhaps even just the proud dog mom. This is, however, productivity is not a constant for all. It can be shy, it can come in waves, or it can completely leave the building. Whenever I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of comparison, I remind myself of this: there is room for everyone and it doesn’t take away from who I am as a person.

For the most part, I am totally in awe of what everyone else is doing. I do let others lift and motivate me. But also, there’s no harm in using the temporary ‘mute’ button. It isn’t spiteful at all. It’s just putting a healthy boundary in place, until you’re ready to see it again. Remember though: too much of anything is dangerous. Find a balance, and don’t pull yourself entirely away from everything. If it’s too much time on social media, implement set amounts of time for it. If it’s burning out on constant dating apps with conversation going nowhere, perhaps try virtual speed dating – let 2021 be the year that you really try new things, and push your own boundaries.

Self care saved me

I’m sure we’ve all heard this term before. The notion of putting your needs first for the goodness of your physical and mental health. It sounds logical, right? Unfortunately, for many it’s something we all struggle with; to set purposeful time aside for ourselves. As a society, there’s a sense of guilt around prioritising yourself. We find it difficult to be selfish. I’m not saying quit your job and refuse all responsibility (that is not wise and please don’t hold me accountable!) – instead, make it a habit to listen to your body and soul.

What brings you joy? What makes you feel better? Voltaire once said, ‘We must cultivate our garden’. To put it plainly, we have to look after ourselves first and foremost. Tend to your own well-being because underneath it all, that is really all you have. When the outside world is treacherous, drink more water, move your body and go on. Also: rewatch Gossip Girl

It’s a small world after all

The Internet can be both a blessing and a curse. Yet, reminding ourselves that anyone, at any time, is just a video call away is strangely reassuring. What’s more, we’re starting to realise the efficiency of the virtual world: why spend the day commuting for a 45-minute meeting, when you can just host it online? Better still, why waste valuable ‘me time’ with awful first dates when I can get a sense of a person via a virtual speed date in just three or four minutes? We need to be living smart, not living hard.

If 2020 has taught us anything it is that it’s never too late to learn something new.

The magic of human compassion

Just as social media seemed to be convincing us all that the world was simply about what we could take, 2020’s virals reminded us just how important it has become. We suffered together, found unity through strangers, and recognised the truly important people on our planet: our healthcare workers, frontline staff, or maybe just that friend that’s willing to drop off groceries when you least expect it.

Importantly, it was this that gave life to Isodate. Dating was crying out for a change, for a refocus on human interaction. Dare we say it, but dating changed for the better: it put value back in the person, not the profile, whilst bringing people (safely) together. 2020 gave us a realisation on just how important human connection really was, and that it should be cherished.

As we enter 2021, we can only hope this continues; that more people start to refocus on the idiocy of swiping with no-purpose, and instead make a conscientious effort to rethink what they believe to be more important: what a human being is like, rather than how strong their meme catalogue is (of course it’s important, but it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker!).

In just six months, Isodate was able to connect over 1500+ people, in almost 100 events. We saw three move-ins, two engagements, and even one marriage (it’s amazing how quickly you can know sometimes) – and we believe this is just the start. Video dating – and specifically, virtual speed dating – is relaxed, pandemic-safe and a far better use of one’s dating energy. There’s no catfishing, ghosting, or fake accounts…just real people having real conversations. Ask yourself: how much do you really enjoy swiping endlessly with the same results? Yeah, not much.   

Overall, I want anyone reading this to remember: you made it. You got through these unprecedented times, and you’ll come out better in the long run. Life isn’t a sprint: it’s a marathon. In the wise words of Evan Sanders:

“There’s no such thing as the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, we must realize that we are the light”

A happy new year from the Isodate team. We wish you all a fantastic 2021, and hope to help you #SwipeLessDateMore in the new year 🙂

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