Ljiljana Kostic blog liliana k nigeria story beograd

This is a short love letter dedicated to this year.
This is to the (in)famous 2020.
The year that was “supposed to” make all my dreams come true, but has instead brought everything I could not even create in my very imaginative head.

The year that made me re-learn all the “learned lessons”- such as- nothing is under my control except my feelings and thoughts (barely), no matter how arrogantly I like to call myself a control freak.

To the year that forced me – the “proud citizen of the world” – back to my country and made sure I stay long enough to confront my past that I’ve been running away from for years. It pushed me to finally heal the most painful wounds I tried to ignore all my life. It forced me to embrace the hurt, sassy, forced-to-be-brave “little Belgrade girl” inside of me that I have been deliberately shaming and bullying for years. The girl that I’ve been trying to ditch.

How unfair was I to her? I’ve despised her weaknesses and faults. I was ashamed of her traumas, fears, and vulnerability. However, each time some foreigner in a far-away-land would be impressed by my toughness, my bravery, and caring personality, I would proudly say that was a “Belgrade girl inside of me.” Then I would boastfully narrate how rough Serbian history makes us warriors, super-women, and super empathic humans. This year I apologized to her, my little Belgrade warrior girl, and I also decided to forgive her and accept her.

I fell in love with her, forced to sit for months in the old communist building, smelling like garlic and roasted bell peppers for Ajvar that the neighbor next door was making, not even me. I also counted how many times a day neighbors on the floor above use the restroom, each time they’d flush their toilet, while also trying to figure out the meaning of life.

Lungs filled with secondhand smoke in the country still obsessed with cigarettes, mixed with air pollutions so high that we beat Indian cities on several occasions – Corona would die if it would just see them. Oh, no. I mentioned it. I promised I wouldn’t. We all had enough hearing about it, reading about it. We’ve had enough of its name.

Love letter. To the year that I spent watching the world fall apart in many different ways, on different screens. Feeling the pain of people, as always, but this time powerless to do anything. I was powerless to even express how I felt and write about it. I was lacking words. And words were always, you know, I like to call them, my superpower. Can you imagine how frustrating it is when you already have nothing under control, to also lose your superpower?

The funniest part is, this wasn’t even the worse year of my life. I had them way harder. But this year showed me that there are, in fact, things that I was not ready for and situations I did not know how to cope with or manage and that you always have to learn more and adapt again. And again. And again.

To the year of unlearning. I had to unlearn the history of the world, realizing that it teaches us to celebrate murderers, psychopaths, and rapists for a reason. Napoleons, Alexander The Greats, and Columbuses are made to appear heroes and their deeds great, so we can see nothing wrong with the evils of the ones who rule us today.

The year when I had to unlearn the habit of following the beauty trends imposed by people making millions of our insecurities. I learned how to accept differences. The year of beautiful realizations that I was allowed to drink from the “expensive wine glasses” for important people and special occasions because I am important and every single moment of my life is a special occasion. Cheers to that

And yes, the magic does exist. They lie to us. They don’t want us to see magic. They call us crazy for believing in magic because they want to make sure we don’t get distracted from paying our bills, taxes, following rules, and laws… They don’t want us to forget why ‘it’s important” to work from nine to five.

They don’t want us to see that the magic is everywhere.
Magic is in the smell of the first-morning coffee.
It’s in the arms of someone you love;
in the music of the wind and the shapes that clouds make.
It is sunsets and sunrises.
Magic is in laughter;
in creating something with your two bare hands.
In the person who is thousands of miles away and still, you can feel them.
It is in loving.
In sharing. In giving. In playing.

Everything they call “small things” are actually the “big ones.” Life is not all about chasing papers. It seems to me, I spent life chasing diplomas and certificates that show that I am capable- to work, live in some place, drive, exist, and pay for things. Little did I have from those this year. I am capable of love, healing, forgiving, and giving. And this year showed me that’s what matters the most. Thank you for that, 2020. Please don’t repeat yourself.

Liliana K

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