31 Dec 2017

2017: an experience

Must add 'took many photos of sunsets from our new balcony' to the list

Sorry, A Place In The Sun has just started and I need to put something else on because I’m not watching old rich white couples buy second homes in hot countries while I sit here in my own filth with laryngitis, about to reflect on another long, long, expensive, year.

I’ve put Dinner Date on.

Right. Well. 2017. Was it better than 2016? Yes, arguably. Much less death in the family. I’ll take that. Was it a good year? I’m not sure. Probably. I struggle to accept and embrace the good shit. I’m very good at focusing on the negatives. Aren’t we all. So, I’m forcing myself to look back and grab the positives and put them on a pedestal to appreciate them and myself.

I didn't make any resolutions at the end of last year because I decided making resolutions was unhealthy. In reality, 2016 was so bad that I was just scared of setting myself up for failure and making things worse. But now I know that not completing a resolution doesn’t mean I’ve failed. As long as I try and experience things, that’s enough. What a good lesson to learn in 2017. I really wanted to take the pressure off making 2017 a ‘successful’ year, at least in the traditional sense. I didn’t want to think about career progression, educational progression, relationship progression, housing progression, money progression. I only wanted to focus on self-progression in the self-care sense. I wanted to look after myself and experience things. That was success to me, and it felt much nicer.

Ok. The good things that happened. The big things and the little things:

  • I ran a marathon. Let’s just get that one out of the way. I trained hardcore for the full four months then ran the London Marathon and survived
  • I ran a PB half marathon. Dartford Half was HILLY and I still knocked 12 minutes off
  • I ran two PB 10ks. 1:09 in January at Battersea Park, then 1:03 in December at the Olympic Park. In the snow
  • I ran 31 parkruns, 27 of them different courses. Cardiff and Hull being the most touristy
  • We ran our 50th parkrun on Christmas Day!
  • I actually ran a sub30 5k and now do that consistently
  • I joined an actual running group. This really battled with my anxiety but I’ve stuck with it and improved my times and overall fitness dramatically in just four months. Wonder woman
  • OK NO MORE RUNNING ONES. I revamped my blog! It now looks almost slick and millennial 
  • I did a speech alongside the The Duke of Cambridge about mental health and then sat next to The Duchess of Cambridge for the rest of the night and marvelled at her tights
  • Ryan and I moved into our own rented place and haven’t yet killed each other
  • I went to three new European countries - Austria, Latvia, and Hungary 
  • We went to York for our fourth anniversary 
  • I was called up to be a stem cell donor for Anthony Nolan. Although they ended up finding a stronger match, the experience was still pretty special.
  • We baked every bake on our Great British Bake Off calendar
  • I got a little promotion and pay rise at work
  • I ever so slightly upped my freelancing game, working for betty, Beat, and Rose & Butterfly
  • I became a volunteer ‘Champion’ for Brook, the sexual health and wellbeing charity 
  • Two new members of the family were born, friends got engaged, and friends got married
  • My nan and grandad celebrated their Diamond anniversary 
  • My nan and Ryan’s grandma celebrated their 80th birthdays 
  • We managed to keep our third wave of fish alive, thank God
  • I learnt how to pot herbs and kept them alive for about two months
  • I lost two stone in weight
  • I danced at a wedding and felt so present and alive, and I didn’t even need alcohol!!!
  • We played hardcore bingo in Rhyl 
  • My face went viral
Not bad, really. 

This year I also did a thing where I wrote down every new TV series I watched, every new movie I watched, every new book I read, and every new place I visited. Like, I created a Word doc to write them all down. In a table. Colour-coded. Why? I don’t know, really. I just wanted to know how much I was ‘consuming’ and I love keeping track of data. I used to ask for a new address book every birthday and Christmas as a kid because I was obsessed with filling shit out. Nerd.

So, I watched 108 new films (but only two in the cinema, shameful), watched 47 new TV series/seasons, read 12 books, and visited 26 new places (including cities, towns, and attractions - not the new Aldi down the road). Pretty fascinating to see just how much new shit went into my head, and how many new things and places I experienced. Consuming all that stuff doesn’t really seem like a big deal at the time, but when you see it all as numbers… it’s quite cool and must change you in some way. Maybe.

Experiences have been my thing this year. Experiences with no weight on them. I’ve wanted to live for living’s sake. Do stuff and go places and take part in things just to… see what happens. Nothing more. Not everything has to add meaning or progression to my life. 

I’ve definitely been kinder to myself and tried to know myself more. I’ve focused a lot on health, both mental and physical, and shifted my perspectives. That was tough and it’s still a challenge, but I need to keep reminding myself that I am a good person doing good things, and I don’t need to prove myself TO myself. I know a lot more about good friendship, I’m more comfortable bringing people up on shitty behaviour, I’m standing my ground more, I’m communicating better, and I give far, FAR less of a shit about what people think of me. I’ve done good. 

That’s… it. I think. 2017 was personally better than 2016, but globally it was still terrible. We are not living in great times, but we are doing our best to ourselves and each other. That’s what I’ve noticed about this year, anyway. Friends are focusing on themselves and being good people to those around them. That’s important. Mental health is still bad - just… *gestures around* generally - but we really are talking more and being more mindful. It’s not necessarily enough, but it’s a big societal step. 

Keep being kind in 2018. It’s underrated.

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