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  • Writer's pictureRuth Walker

Two days that changed my world

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Two days. That’s all it took. Two days, four little words, and my life changed, just like that

Less than a week before the world witnessed a not dissimilar change – with a flight to Florida, a song from Gaga, and the swearing in of the first Black, Asian female as America’s Vice-President *squeeeeeeee – my own little upside-down universe was set right. And it had taken just two days. Though, in real terms, it had been much longer.

On January 13, 2021, my application for an O1 visa – for individuals of exceptional ability (otherwise known as the “genius visa” – hey, Einstein, how d'you like them apples?) – was finally submitted to the US Citizen and Immigration Services. It was the result of four long, expensive, and frustrating months of emails, phone calls, and mountains of paperwork. But a lifetime of actual graft – building a career, nurturing connections, growing personally and professionally, taking risks, and learning as much from my failures as my successes – had got me to this point.

I’d been told to expect a long wait – as much as five or six months – for the application to be processed. But on January 15, I opened my laptop to these words: “My case was approved.”

It had taken just two days.

Less time than it had taken Joseph R Biden to be announced President of the United States.

Less time than it had taken the internet to give birth to a million Bernie memes, and for Asos to sell out (probably) of cheap copies of Michelle’s burgundy pant suit.

So now what? As with our new administration, the work is just beginning. On Joe’s first day, he signed 17 papers addressing COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, and climate change.

On my first day, I went to Zara and bought a dress in the sale. It wasn’t much, but it symbolized a hope in the future; a trust in better days to come, and the knowledge that – maybe, just maybe – one day I might wear a dress again.

And, if I'd been looking for confirmation that I was in the right place, on the right path, perhaps this was it. Who hasn't spent large chunks of the past year questioning ... reflecting ... resetting? The pandemic has been a time of stagnancy – of sitting at home wearing sweat pants and crying to the plants – but it's also been an opportunity for big changes and internal upheaval.

One friend ditched their corporate job and lived on a beach for a month.

Another discovered a passion for upholstery.

One started that book. One took up full-time tarot reading. And several started a new business, finally becoming their own boss after years taking orders from someone else.

One friend had a baby; another got that tummy tuck they'd been saving up for.

I know people who finally decided to commit, and others for whom lockdown proved the final nail in their relationship coffin.

Some got sober.

Whatever 2020 served up for you – financial hardship, emotional upheaval, sickness, bereavement – I hope it also brought some small piece of positive change; a new purpose. And if you still feel stuck, it's not too late. What will you do in 2021?

Sign up to get more musings like this here. And humble gratitude if you're able to contribute to my genius fund (I still haven't paid the lawyer - eek!). If we can work together, I'd love to connect. Email me at

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