I get a sense of nervous excitement as the world starts to spin again. Will everything be ok? Are things going back to “normal?” How can it? Undoubtedly, 2020 has had a lasting effect on us all. Now that it feels like I can take a breath, perhaps it’s wise to reflect and take inventory, lest I forget.

With more facemasks, sanitizers, and latex gloves than I know what to do with, I still get the ever so faint impulse to stock up and buy more. Or, maybe it’s time to start eating away at my stockpile of nonperishables? Needless to say, I developed some habits from last year that are still hard to let go of—the reinforced appreciation for proper hygiene and personal space will stick with me for a while. More than that, I want to remain aware of how this challenging time seemed to coax the best out of me.

The previous years have been a blur of constantly working toward career and financial security. And finally, finally! At the end of 2019, I reached a point where I could shift gears toward more personal endeavors. I wanted to have fun! 2020 was going to be the year to reap those rewards and enjoy some of those fruits of my labor. With the pandemic standing in the way of those dreams, what was I to do? I tried to make the best of it.



I’m no stranger to having a lack of options. The restrictions brought on by the pandemic were, dare I say, helpful. It eliminated distractions and narrowed the window of things within my control (everything within my one-bedroom apartment).

With an abundance of nervous energy and a very limited outlet, I saw it as an opportunity—the self-quarantine supercharged my focus. I started by purging my apartment of useless clutter. Then I focused on myself. I changed to a plant-based diet, started intermittent fasting, and working out more. I couldn’t believe that my schedule for eating and exercise had swapped. Instead of eating three times a day and working out once, I ate once and worked out three times. Now, I’m in the best shape that I’ve ever been.

Amongst other things, I’ve gotten over my fear of selfies by learning how to take a good self-portrait. One can learn anything on the internet. There are no excuses. You just have to want to do it. I learned what equipment I needed and how to use it (well, good enough, at least). There’s still a lot to learn, but the YouTube tutorials by Julia Trotti, Trevor Wentt, and Mango Street were invaluable.

“If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. You want change, make some.” – Courtney C. Stevens, The Lies About Truth Note to self: As long as there is air in your lungs, there exists an opportunity. If you want to feel better, look better, be better... you have the free will to change that. It’s all you. Take ownership. Be proud. Stay hungry.
Another self-portrait from a photo session in June 2020, over the lockdown. I like to smile, but it's very rare that I flash one in front a camera. It has to be genuine. For this pic, I remember imagining the scenario of being nervous in front of a girl I liked. It’s worked since 1st grade.

With a new camera and plenty of time for introspection, a photojournal seemed like a good use of time. It has been helpful in reflection, organizing thoughts, and developing some photography skills. I hope to continue the practice.

@j_lamar_hollingsworth on Instagram



The pandemic gave everyone on the planet a shared experience. But it was shared alone or at least from a distance. I felt compelled to bring some good into the world and a sense of togetherness.

At the end of every year, I try to say thanks to those who’ve kept me in business. Being able to work through the pandemic made it even more important. Entire industries were shutting down, folks were losing their only means of income, and some families had to turn to charitable organizations for the first time. I decided to gift everyone I had worked with that year (and a few mentors) a donation to the Food Bank of Alaska. Each received a $100 donation in their honor and a reusable canvas grocery bag to symbolize their gesture of feeding those in need.

See More of The Project


Building Something Good

While happily maintaining an overloaded work schedule, I managed to build something good over the past year. I met a special person with a mission to do good, and I decided to help. Megan Yoshino is self-employed, working in Honolulu, Hawai’i, to re-vision education one kid at a time. Together, we worked to build a brand for her private tutoring business, “HI Achiever’s, LLC.” The logo and supporting elements are encouraging, fun, and safe, which is the ideal learning environment.

We’re only midway through the brand application, but I trust this process will add value to her mission and bring more good into the world.

As 2020 moves further away…

Even though I grew and became better because of it, it was not easy. The uncertainty was deafening at times. I remember feeling as though we were living in some sort of dream-like alternative reality that lasted for months. I soon realized the protective blanket of “normal” was gone and wasn’t sure if it was coming back. It forced me to rebuild faith in something. And with fewer distractions vying for my attention, I had the freedom to choose where to start building. As 2020 moves further away, I depart feeling grateful and proud of what I accomplished. I want these lessons and practices to stay with me forever.