The Final Stretch

Zachary Styles
4 min readNov 15, 2020


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“People are scared. I’m also scared, but not for the future. I’m scared about losing myself in the present.”


This is not meant to be a thought-provoking piece, and this also has nothing to do with productivity, design, or business. Today’s blog is purely my thoughts as we approach the end of the year. So that’s just a warning if this kind of thing isn’t for you. As we start to wrap the year up a lot of my time has been dedicated to my work instead of the world around me, so for a change, I’m looking a little more internally than usual.

Not all sunshine and rainbows

I’m going to start off by saying that I cannot wait for this holiday. I’m tired. I’m exhausted, in fact. I’d love to say that part of my lack of energy is due to the Pandemic we’re in, but I think that would be a cop-out. I see a lot of people talk about how the pandemic has reshaped their lives and uprooted everything; how it’s caused them stresses they hadn’t experienced and how tired they are. I agree with those people, but not unequivocally.

I think the pandemic has changed a lot of things, and there is no real way to contest that, but I think what’s mattered most is how we have handled it. How we have embraced new opportunities awarded by the voids of lost ones, and how we have learned to take fewer things for granted than we used to.

Most of us change one stress for another. Some of us don’t commute as much as we used to (great), but some of us are not coping being home so much (not so great). Some things didn’t get better, but they also didn’t get worse, they just changed. We swopped out one stress for another, and we hoped the latter would be lesser than the former.

I — and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced this in 2020 — was busy before the pandemic hit. And while I will admit that things slowed down, it wasn’t for long. The lockdown brought new challenges to the table, and coming out of lockdown brought the old ones back again. It was a slightly longer game of ping-pong where the ball got a lot heavier with each hit across the net. And the game isn’t over yet.

I see people are reaching their breaking points. They’re tired. People are frustrated and anxious about the future. People are scared. I’m also scared, but not for the future. I’m scared about losing myself in the present. Studying during this time has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Where most people have the luxury of going home after work and winding down — and yes, that is a luxury — I have been going home and winding up again. The work hasn’t ended.

If it’s not an Honours project, it’s lecturing responsibilities; and if it’s not lecturing then it’s freelance work. Maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew this year, but when I made all these decisions I had no idea how they were going to pan out. I’m not saying that these decisions have not been some of the best I have ever made, because they definitely have been. But I will say that the juggling act of 2020 is not for the faint of heart.

But the harvest is fruitful

By no means, however, am I ignorant of the fruits that have been a result of this year. I have made new friends and new colleagues. I have grown my portfolio and my skillset. But, most importantly, I have grown my thinking and my views of the world around me. I see how difficult it is to live a full life, and how easy it is to sit back and see it fly before your eyes.

I’m not here to kick sand into my own eye in frustration of 2020, and I’m also not here to tell you that it’s okay to be a sorry sack of misery when you finally get home at the end of the day. What I am here for, is to remind myself (and maybe you, if the shoe fits) that there are more things to be grateful for than to be angry about. Life is good. It may be difficult, but it is good.

There are times to complain and there are times to rejoice. I’m not a fan of the former and I’m also not great at the latter, so instead I’m taking this moment to express that I’m tired and I’m looking longingly to a reprieve; for a surf in the morning and a gin in the evening.

As projects come to a close and our friends keep reminding us how many Mondays are left until Christmas, now is the time to take some stock of the year before the masses do, and to remind myself that as we approach the end of one of the most difficult years we’ve ever had, this year has also taught us more than we expected it to. It taught us to take more care of our families, to value our mental health just as much as our physical health, if not more, and it taught us to make do with what we have; all of which I believe are valuable personal commodities. It may rain hard, but if you look closely, you may find the harvest is stronger for it.



Zachary Styles

Full-time designer, illustrator and lettering artist. Part time lecturer. Part time student. Experiencing the world through words, both written and drawn.