Bucking the trend to become me
When I was asked what got me through this year, I had a hard time coming up with an answer. My mind drifted to the regular things people say, like friends or family, but those didn’t really fit this time. I think we’ve all had moments this year where we’ve felt an extreme disconnect from the things that usually help us get by. Not able to see friends or visit relatives, and while the Zoom calls are fun, they just don’t match up to in-person connecting.
I started thinking back to what I did in the beginning of the pandemic. I was a fresh Ryerson grad, home from university and unable to go out of the house. During my “think” I realized just how many chapters of COVID lockdown I had been through.
I tried pretty much all of the lockdown trends. It started with the baking. Countless loaves of banana bread, all with slightly different recipes, testing which one would be best. (And, on the note of testing things, I also tried every brand of oat milk in town. In my opinion, Chobani wins.)
After baking, it was painting. I’m not at all a visual artist, I never have been. But I pulled out an old school sketchbook and searched the house for the craft paints. I got pretty addicted, spending hours a day painting little cartoon animals and fruits. Nothing of a masterpiece at all, but it was fun, and at one point I even thought I should start selling them online.
When my younger sister returned home from university in the UK, I was introduced to TikTok. It became this battle of who could get the most views…she won.
My painting became a source of content for TikTok. I’d pick two words from a hat and combine them in one painting for my (almost non existent) TikTok fans. However, almost as quickly as I started painting, I stopped. It was then onto hiking.
As the weather warmed up, being outside was much more bearable. I was reminded of how lucky we are to live in the Trail Capital of Canada. We have so much to explore, and having lots of new found time, I was out to see many places I hadn’t before.
With summer came the biking trend. I don’t think I had ridden a bike since I was about 14, but suddenly I had this urge to get back in the saddle, so to speak. The biking chapter of COVID might have been my favourite. It allowed me to get out with some friends for the first time in months. We’d meet up at the trailhead, and being on bikes, we were practically forced to be at least two meters apart.
Fall was the time of building up my business and beginning to focus my energy. For a few years now, I have been a freelance photographer, but being a university student, I never had the time to dig too deep and make it much of a career. Fall is usually a busy time for photographers, as the changing colours urge people to get family portraits and Christmas card photos. Luckily, photography is one of those things that you can really do safely during a pandemic. As a natural light photographer, I do all my sessions outdoors and with a prime, portrait lens I have to be at a distance from my subjects anyway.
With my first fall clients I got my photo “bug” back and decided to focus my “COVID Trend Energy” into my business. I spent hours a week on marketing and SEO and it really seemed to pay off. This year I saw my busiest fall as a photographer. I also decided to take a leap and host mini sessions. I found a beautiful local farm venue that was willing to host me for a day and I was able to capture lots of gorgeous, rustic fall memories for my clients.
As winter rolled around, I learned about an elk farm in Port Perry. I contacted them about hosting me for Christmas minis and, with a little creative freedom, I had Christmas photos at a reindeer farm! At the risk of bragging a little, as I write this I have received two emails inquiring about photo sessions. Business hasn’t stopped!
While I thought this year was about finding new hobbies and creating a new post-COVID lockdown self, I think I’ve realized that it was more about growing the person I already am. I tried all the trends and somehow I ended up doing exactly what I always imagined my post-graduate self to be doing. It’s funny to think that I spent months testing out all these different hobbies, only to have them be very short chapters in my pandemic diary. I don’t feel like it was time wasted, though. With each new hobby came new skills and new creativity, and I thrive on that.
As we leave this year behind, I’m trying very hard to think of it as a fresh start. So bring it on 2021, let see what you’ve got for us!
Editor’s note: The Uxbridge Cosmos is a host news organization for the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI), a federally funded program aimed at fostering and supporting the creation of civic journalism. The Local Journalism Initiative is intended to support the creation of civic journalism; therefore, LJI reporters are required to cover civic issues and civic institutions such as courthouses, city halls, band councils, school boards, Parliament or provincial legislatures and the like. Ms. Edgell’s stories are shared across the Canada, as LJI stories are available for republication by accredited media organizations across the country through a Creative Commons license, broadening and strengthening the reach of the content and coverage.