Many of us will be spending New Year’s Eve alone this year, and for Stylist’s Hollie Richardson that is exactly the way she wants it to be.
Let’s get real: nobody has much choice when it comes to New Year’s Eve plans this year. The new tier four restrictions are predicted to be rolled out across the UK and extended well beyond Christmas. But even in the weeks before Boris Johnson announced we would be spending the last days of 2020 under these Gilead-style rules, I’d already decided that I want to bring in 2021 on my own in my flat.
For me, New Year’s Eve has always been a night of pomp. I am usually in the camp of people who are bewildered by anyone who says they’re “having a quiet one this year”. I love the annual ritual of running around Westfield looking for a sparkly dress, spending about three hours perfecting my eye makeup, dancing like it’s 1999 with my friends, splashing £50 on an Uber home and waking up only to Google “can I die from a hangover?”
Sure, skipping a party or a big night out is a way cheaper, healthier and, ultimately, wiser move. But I guess the fear of missing out on celebrating that milestone moment – the clock striking 12 to bring in a new year with endless possibilities – while surrounded by friends and feeling fabulous is just too much of a tease to resist.
But I truly won’t miss any of that this year.
Somebody I recently interviewed asked me: “And how about you? How have found this year?” I didn’t have an answer. Where would I even start? There have been so many stages in this pandemic.
I lived alone in the first lockdown and I was a bag of contradictions: resilient but vulnerable, thankful yet riddled with guilt, “fine” and totally not fine at all. I’d never lived alone before, nevermind alone in a pandemic. It was a bit traumatic, just like it was for most of us.
After that, my flatmate returned and a new flatmate moved in. I met up with friends, joined a co-working space, ate out at restaurants and enjoyed the freak summer weather in east London’s parks. I feel weird saying this but, I actually had a pretty enjoyable time. Things were not-totally-normal-but-normal-enough.
And now, well you don’t need me to tell you there’s that collective sense of lockdown dread again. I even found myself writing down all the “nice things” I’ve done this year the other night, as a reminder there was some good in 2020.
But in a few years’ time, if somebody asks me about the pandemic, I know I’ll think of those first few months – and not because they were the most traumatic and least enjoyable months of this year (perhaps even of my life).
I’ve actually come to treasure that period in my life. Yes, I relied on food and alcohol for comfort a bit too much. I spent many nights exhausted with anxiety and fear. I didn’t have the mental energy to bake bread, work on a creative project or even finish reading the chapter of a book.
But I also developed stronger relationships with friends and family, had important conversations with myself about what future I want, and finally realised I must be doing OK in life in order to be comfortably surviving a pandemic – I even decided I want to live on my own permanently one day soon.
And that’s why ending the year on my own is the only way for me to do it this time. I might dress up, I might get comfy in my trusty PJs. I might get a takeaway, I might cook something special for myself. I might watch Jools Holland, I might stick on Bridget Jones’ Diary. I might cry, I might laugh. I might do a few video calls, I might just put my phone on silent.
There will, however, definitely be a homemade cocktail in hand, fireworks lighting up the sky outside my window and freshly washed bedsheets calling me to bed just after midnight. I’ll even do a little “cheers” to my flat, thanking it for being my warm and slightly crumbling but nonetheless charming safe space.
I am the person who got me through this year, and I know I’m the one who will get me through whatever the hell 2021 has to bring.
But don’t worry, restrictions permitting, I’ll make up for it in sequins and prosecco for 2022.