Just like that, another year has passed. At risk of sounding really old and really boring, it really doesn’t feel all that long ago that we were preparing to ring in 2018 and yet all at the same time some of the things I’ve achieved this year seem a different lifetime. I’m a bit concerned that rounding up my year like this in a blog post is sort of akin to those wanky family newsletters that some people fold into Christmas cards. Then again, maybe social media has already done that for us as we watch one another trials and tribulations in real time. What I do know is that there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your own successes (in fact, I highly encourage it) and that sometimes you need to stop, breath and reflect to really grasp how far you’ve come.
Without fail, I always cry on New Year’s Eve. I’ve got distinct memories (which is a real achievement because I was smashed on shitty Slug & Lettuce house wine and that warm bottle of champagne I drank on the train) of standing on London’s Southbank a few years ago, watching the fireworks explode up ahead and balling. Literally sobbing my eyes out for absolutely no other reason than that it felt somehow monumental that another year had drawn to a close. Okay, that and the cheapskate chardonnay they were serving. Since then it’s sort of been a tradition. I like to think of it as cathartic; a release of energy and of pent up emotion, ready to start afresh. Really I think I’m just a bit of a tit.
This year really has been one to laugh and cry about though and for the most part it’s good, happy tears. January saw a trip to Berlin with one of my beautiful best friends – what’s the wurst that could happen? (I think I’m funny) We stayed in a crazy suite at the Mandala hotel courtesy of some work I was doing with them which made us feel pretty fucking swanky. We explored the city, definitely lost a nipple to frostbite and encountered the biggest German schlong I’ve ever laid eyes on. See below.
Later that month I turned 22 and celebrated over bottomless brunch with a gorgeous group of girls that honestly, I’d only actually met the month before. I’m still concerned they thought I was a massive loser/billy-no-mates (both mildly true) but it was the start of something beautiful (brunch at midday and not home until 10pm kind of beautiful) and my year has been so much richer for having them in my life. I previously wrote about how I never had a ‘girl gang’ and always felt as though I’d failed somehow as a result. Finding my crowd and feeling as though I’ve got women around me who are there for hugs, gin and so-unfunny-they’re-hilarious group chat meme sharing is perhaps my biggest achievement of the year.
February, March and April are largely a blur. My business really began to pick up and simultaneously so did my final ever term at University. Timing has never been my strong point. I had wonderful intentions of pacing my revision, aided by a beautifully colour coded timetable, and cruising through my final exam season with the grace of a swan. An easy, breezy swan. In reality, I procrastinated until the last possible minute, focused my energies elsewhere and spent longer choosing multi-coloured pens than actually doing any real work. Somehow I flew by the seat of my lacy pants and sort of crash-landed the other side: feathers ruffled and blood stream pumping little other than red bull and pro plus.
A slight caffeine addiction aside, the best thing to come out of April was Becca. I’ll always love the story of how we met, even if it does make me sound like a bit of a knob. I posted an Instagram story asking if anyone was a member at Shoreditch house and might be able to let me up to the pool. In truth, all I wanted was to go for a mid-heat-wave dip after an event I’d had there that morning. I wasn’t looking for friendship, but boy did I find it when Becca – we’d never even spoken before – responded. Totally out of character for both of us (me less so, but then I’m used to doing weird things fuelled by the internet), we met and stayed into the evening lounging in our swimmers – one way to break the ice – and drinking rosé on our towels. The rest they say, is history. History, and a few hangovers.
Earlier this year I was also shortlisted for ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Cosmopolitan Magazine Influencer Awards. When I opened the email I promptly slammed my laptop lid shut and thought I was going to vomit in the uni library (see, I did go sometimes). The imposter syndrome was oh-so real and in all honesty I don’t think I enjoyed the event nearly as much as I should have because it felt very surreal. I didn’t win, which was totally fine; being there was more than enough and I don’t think my shaky little legs would’ve carried me up to the stage anyway. My favourite moment of the night was getting back to my hotel room to find a gorgeous bouquet from my beautiful friend, Kirby.
The bubble burst when I arrived home the next morning to find that my sweet hamster-babe (no it’s not a weird pet for an adult, yes they are the best thing ever) Juniper – who was only around 7 or 8 months old – had passed away. I spent a weekend totally distraught. She was the funniest, fluffiest and most charming little thing and I couldn’t find any real perspective or comfort because she was so young too.
At the end of May I finished university forever. Lord knows it wasn’t an easy ride and one of the biggest things I had to come to terms with was that no, uni was bloody well not the best 3 years of my life. I’d been looking forward to June 1st for a long time: it signified a new beginning. I was self-employed, working all hours and essentially raring to go. At risk of sounding like a smug bastard, that bubble hasn’t burst yet. It’s an utter joy to genuinely love what I do for a living and despite many a raised eyebrow that I wasn’t (directly, at least) putting my law degree to ‘proper’ use, I feel as though I’ve made real headway this year. I’m by no stretch performing rocket science or saving lives, but I like to hope that I contribute something positive in my little corner of the cyber-space. My job is often looked upon with a lot of scrutiny and a general assumption that it’s really easy. Boy, does it have some wonderful perks but a breeze, it is not (read here for ‘so you think you want to be a full time blogger). For the last six months I’ve barely stopped working and whilst a greater sense of balance and an increased ability to work ‘smart’ is definitely something I’m striving towards for 2019, I can’t held but feel a touch of pride at the hours I’ve put in too. We uptight Brits tend not to talk about money much, but when I made more than I would’ve done in my first year at a law firm in fewer months from my laptop in my bedroom, that pride turned into a real fire in my belly. I’m not driven by money (but I do like freedom) but rather by proving to myself that I can.
In the Isle of Wight to model for New Look at the festival.
In June I was nominated for, and won, the Blogosphere Lifestyle Blogger of the Year award. This time I didn’t feel like an imposter but I did feel really humbled and in definite disbelief. It was an extra-special night because I had a table of my best-friends cheering me on and the next day 9 of us headed down to Brighton for a weekend of BBQ’s, gin and many a round of Heads Up. The weekend felt like a turning point for me: I’d just finished university, I’d won a career accolade before I felt I’d even really begun and most importantly I realised I had a group of people who really got me. It was the perfect way to begin the summer and to say goodbye to a chapter that I definitely wouldn’t miss.
In July I graduated with a 2.1 in Law & Anthropology from the LSE with my mum and my nan in the audience. It was a bittersweet day because although I walked across the stage with a lot of pride that I’d survived what had been the hardest period of my life, I wasn’t doing so with friends to go and take cap & gown selfies with after. I felt as though I’d succeeded and failed all at once. Read more here.
I spent the summer working hard (read more here) – with a few days off to squirrel away to a little off-grid gypsy waggon in the Devonshire countryside – and in September I flew to Bali for a week courtesy of TUI. It was without a doubt my career highlight thus far and kindled a burning desire to see more of the world too. I’d already planned, and been saving up, to go travelling at the end of the year but that week by the Indonesian Ocean spurred me on more than ever.
I went on to be invited on trips to Benidorm and to The Cayman Islands in October and November: experiences which I felt incredibly grateful to be included in. The rest of the winter was a bit of a blur: I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life. My weeks rolled into one another, I rarely fell into bed before 1am and I was up every morning adding more and more things to my to-do list. It’s not all that healthy and it’s certainly not sustainable but having had a period in my life in which I struggled to even rise out of bed in the morning, I’m inclined to grab such energy by the balls and run (or stagger, exhaustedly) with it.
Booking a one way flight to Sydney only served to fuel me: the countdown was on and at times I felt a little as though I was in a Hunger Games style competition with myself (told you I’m a tit) to do more and more in the short time left. Before I knew it, I was stood trying to ram my life into a backpack at 2am, setting my alarm for an hours time and finally, stepping onto a plane with no intention to see the UK again for a while. Which is just as well, because it’ll have probably imploded in a ball of Brexit-induced fire by the time I get back.
I’ve spent the last two weeks of 2018 in Sydney (via a few days in Singapore) ready to ring in 2019 under the hot sun. I’ve already fallen for the city and it’s sweeping beaches, so I highly doubt it’s the last I’ll be seeing of the place either. In the New Year I’ve got plans to explore more of Australia before venturing to New Zealand and all around Asia. I’m prepared to be pushed out of my comfort zone, to test myself and my limits and to learn to switch off and be kinder to myself too.
2018 has been one hell of a ride but I’m ready for a new adventure.