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Charli XCX quarantine diary
illustration Callum Abbott

Charli XCX writes her final diary of 2020 for Dazed

The artist defined early quarantine with her lockdown record how i’m feeling now and her diary entries – here she picks up the pen again and reflects on 2020

TextCharli XCXIllustrationCallum Abbott

When Dazed asked me to write a diary entry closing out the year, my immediate thought was: no. The online diary entries I did at the beginning of quarantine feel like a different era all together, and the thought of creating any type of quarantine-based content or product – essay, song, music video, album – now feels so totally ‘done’ that I’m really just craving something completely stylistically opposite. But in the end I said yes, because actually all this stuff only happened six months ago and in Los Angeles, which is where I’m currently living, we are still very much in the midst of a serious lockdown as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. 

So, where to start with a recap of the year? 2020, our nemesis, the #crazytime we all wish would just fuck off, the year we’ll never forget. Well, let’s just start by saying that 2020 proved to us what we knew all along: the world is a terrible place. We live in a world that is burning, a world bent out of shape by a virus, a world of job losses and health scares, a world where an orange-hued madman advises us to inject bleach into our skin, a world where JK Rowling is no longer your favourite children’s author but the internet’s most outspoken transphobic troll, a world of real bullets, rubber bullets, and violent police. An unjust world filled with racism, corruption, and pain. Hasn’t it always been this way for some?

The answer is yes. When George Floyd was murdered under the knee of a white police officer on May 25 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement was globally reignited for those of us who were privileged enough to have forgotten it. The events of that day sparked protest, passion, rage, and a reminder that privilege is always present. While it shouldn’t take such a tragic event to push these things to the forefront of people’s minds, the reality is, for some – myself and many of my peers included – it did. 2020 has taught me to always listen, to always educate myself, and to always amplify the voices of communities around me who may not have the kind of platform I have. As much as I hate this phrase, it has taught me that I really do need to constantly ‘do better’, and while I maybe won’t be able to take to the streets every day and join powerful and important protests such as the ones occurring earlier this year, I have now kicked myself into gear and know I should continue to make positive, proactive change within my own world and work environment every single day for the rest of my life.

“We live in a terrible world, but 2020 reminded me that, despite all the hell this year has brought, we still have hope”

We live in a terrible world, but 2020 reminded me that, despite all the hell this year has brought, we still have hope. The year saw the rallying together of a younger generation determined to make change, new online campaigns and important questions being raised, and – finally! – the death of the Trump administration and the birth of something hopefully way less terrible. And speaking of less terrible, I do want to mention some of the other positive things that happened in 2020.

2020, in my eyes at least, is the year of “WAP”, the year of Kamala Harris, the year of Michaela Coel. It’s the year I finally saw Hugh Grant in a different light (if you know, you know). It’s the year I really experienced Paris, via Netflix, with my infuriating friend Emily. 2020 brought us Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, and the super-weird and creepy Doc Antle. This year was the year of the pop-star open letter, from Lorde to Lana (controversial). The Lakers did it for Kobe in 2020, and I was introduced to the wonderful budding bromance between LeBron James and Anthony Davis (it’s so cute, I can’t even). Face mask fashion boomed out of face mask necessity, and everybody forgot about phone calls and FaceTime, instead choosing to communicate exclusively on Zoom. 2020 is the year of dancing in your bedroom while your favourite artist performs at their own virtual concert. It’s the year that Taylor went to the woods, Dua went to the 70s, and Ariana went to the White House. It’s the year of the puzzle, the spontaneous marriage, the inevitable break-up. 2020 is the year we finally celebrate frontline workers and all that they do for us. It’s the year we edge towards discussing our mental health more openly. It’s the year of the family group chat and trying our best to stay in touch with friends. It’s the year our communities come together – virtually, of course. 

“When faced with nothing but silence and my own reflection, all of my emotions that I’d dulled down and pushed aside over the years suddenly started to feel a lot more real”

2020 is a year that changed the world. A year I imagine will be a prominent exam module for any young history student in 100 years’ time. I learned a lot about myself this year, as I’m sure many of us did. I personally found that, when faced with nothing but silence and my own reflection, all of my emotions that I’d dulled down and pushed aside over the years suddenly started to feel a lot more real.

So here’s to 2020, a year of pain, a year of tears, a year of self-discovery. A year where the sweetest moments tasted even sweeter because really, they didn’t have much to compete with. All I can say is light your candles, get manifesting, and bring on 2021. If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that we really can’t predict what the future holds… so live your life and live it now because, honestly, who knows what will happen next?