This time of year is always so wonderful online. I absolutely love reading everyone’s reflections over the last twelve months and it’s so great to see how much people have to celebrate. So today, I thought I’d do the same.
It’s been a weird year. Overall, there’s been so much that still hangs heavily on our hearts - the American election, terror attacks and some huge losses to name just a few. But on the flipside, for me on a more personal level, it’s been pretty amazing, actually.
There’s been ups and downs as there always have been. But 2016, you’ve brought me so much more. You’ve made me even stronger at work. You’ve let me explore my own passions and happiness more. And you’ve even helped me start to think about becoming a homeowner...for all those things, I am truly grateful.
I feel like I’ve really grown up this year and hitting my mid-twenties hasn’t been anything like I expected. But it’s been full of surprises, goodness and more opportunities and memories than I ever could’ve imagined.
So as we’re on the countdown to singing Auld Lang Syne, here are some of the biggest things I’ve learnt over the past year.
#1 | THERE’S NO POINT WORRYING OVER THINGS YOU CAN’T CONTROL
There are lots of things you just can’t control, and they’re usually the big things. Like terror attacks, like illness, like something bad happening when you least expect it. You can’t worry that you’ll miss out on something or that you can’t determine when something is going to happen.
You’ve got to make the most of every minute and concentrate on the now. Be present. Show kindness. Smile at a stranger. Be grateful. Take care of yourself. Love your family. Do everything you can to make the most of the life you have.
#2 | WHEN YOU HIT 25 IT ONLY GETS BETTER
I thought 22 was the best year ever. When I hit 23 I changed my mind. Then I thought the same about 24. But now I’m 25, this is definitely the year I’m most excited about. And since my birthday is only in July, I’m still only six months in.
There’s so much to get excited about. Even more loving relationships with family, becoming a homeowner, progressing in my job - it gives me goosebumps thinking about where I am in my life right now! Although we won’t talk about weddings or babies yet thank you very much...
#3 | YOU’VE GOT TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
When other people talk about self-care or taking time out to spend time on themselves, I never judge it as a selfish act. It’s necessary in order to improve and progress along your journey. We’re known as the ‘busy’ generation - there’s so much we want to do and we have lots of responsibilities. And like I always say, if we don’t look after ourselves, then nothing is going to run right.
Only positive things can come from looking after yourself and this goes for having a positive effect on others too. If your body is telling you that you need to rest, listen to it. If your mind is telling you it can’t write another word, listen to it. Don’t push yourself just for the sake of others. If it’s going to affect your mental and physical health, then you’d just be doing a disservice to yourself.
It can be so hard to find this balance and both me and my mum have said we’re going to work on this in 2017. But for now, it’s important to remember that you are allowed to take time out for yourself - and you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
#4 | NOT EVERYTHING WILL RUN RIGHT ALL THE TIME
There have been plenty of times this year when I’ve thought that everything was going so well...and then something will come along and upset everything. You can try so hard to make sure everything is great. Your work, your relationships, your hobbies, your health. But it’s just not possible all the time. Something will slip. You’ll be having a great time with your family, your home will look beautiful - and then boom! You’ll have a bad day at work and that’ll be it.
It’s hard to manage when this happens, but I think the best thing to do is be prepared. Think about areas of your life are going really well and others that might need some improvement. Is your relationship with your best friend suffering? What can you do to change that?
Draw on the good things, learn from the bad and that’s how you’ll learn.
#5 | IT’S ALL ABOUT COMMUNICATION
Communication is the key to everything. It really is. Whether you spill your heart on your blog, talk openly in your videos or send texts to people letting them know they mean a lot to you - it’s all about the way you communicate and how much you do it.
Don’t be afraid of talking about the future, no matter how big or scary it is. Talk to your family, your other half, your friends. Share your thoughts and dreams and you never know...they might be able to help you get there more than you realise.
#6 | YOU NEED PEOPLE TO TALK TO
Having people to talk to is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Go at it alone all the time and everything will suffer, including your mindset and creativity.
This is one of the biggest things I’ve struggled with this year and believe me, it’s not from want of trying. People drift apart, you go down different paths, and most of the time, people don’t turn out the way you think they will. This has left me with pretty much zero friends IRL. In 2017 I want to make more friends, both locally and online. Not just a passing tweet or comment every now and then, but someone I can have a real conversation with. I think it’s the main thing that’s missing from my life.
#7 | WORK ISN’T EVERYTHING
I’m talking about your blog and your day job here. Yes, it’s great when people say, ‘you deserve a break, you work so hard!’ But you don’t want that to come from the only person that likes you. You need to keep your happiness and positivity, and that comes from doing things for you. You want people to say, ‘she’s so kind, honest, helpful and amazing.’
Aim to be remembered not just as a person that did all the work, but someone who was a joy to be around, and who was so amazingly determined. I really feel like I’ve found a better balance this year between my blog, day job and personal life. It’s taken me a while to get there, but I’m finally finding my feet.
#8 | PAUSE BEFORE YOU SPEAK
This is something I’m so bad at. Words can have a huge impact, especially if you don’t choose them properly. When I’m emotional or stressed, I don’t think before I speak and sometimes that can have consequences. I hate hurting people’s feelings. Now, I’m making more of an effort to pause before I speak and choose my words carefully.
#9 | BEING OBSERVANT IS KEY
Again, WAY easier said than done! Tom is fantastic at this. I admire him so much for how he can detach himself from a situation and figure out the best path to take. He’s so observant, so thoughtful and isn’t afraid to challenge an opinion. He’s definitely my inspiration for this lesson.
#10 | THE REALITIES OF BEING A BLOGGER WITH A FULL-TIME JOB AND LIFE
It makes me feel uncomfortable when people talk so much about numbers and freebies and what counts as being a ‘successful’ blogger. It creates such a divide between the industry when I don’t believe there should be one.
I think there can be a huge misconception that it’s easy to balance everything. Some people make it look incredibly easy without sharing the bad times of how they cope with it all.
This year, I’ve endured so many mixed feelings for my blog and freelancing. One month I feel like I can take on the world and be the ultimate #GirlBoss. The next, I want to shut my site down altogether. Thinking you’re on top of everything and then suddenly losing control of it all is so unnerving. But these are the realities we have to live with.
Ultimately, when it comes to my day job, blog and personal life, my blog is at the bottom of the list, because it’s not my main priority. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult to deal with. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a step back and readjust things to make them more manageable for you. Since I’ve done that, I’ve never looked back.
#11 | EMBRACE THE GOOD
I’m so bad for overthinking. Especially when something really good is happening. I worry that something will come along and ruin it or that I don’t deserve it. My family always tell me I should enjoy the good and I’m always standing in the way of my own happiness. It seems I spend so much time worrying about all the things that could happen, that I don’t stop to experience the goodness that’s happening right now.
My mum always says that worrying is like carrying around an umbrella when it isn’t raining. She’s right. Worrying won’t change anything. So instead, I can embrace the good, let amazing things happen and feel the emotions run through my body. That’s something that will never get old.
I'd love to know - what are some of the biggest lessons you're taking away from 2016?