Now that Christmas is over and 2018 is just a couple of days old, I am – naturally – in a reflective mood.
Really, it all began last week. During a post-Boxing Day scroll through Twitter, I spotted this tweet reappearing sporadically on my timeline, followed by people’s various responses, which got me thinking about my own 2017 achievements:
It was wonderful to see everyone’s celebrations rolling in; book deals, blooming relationships, new jobs and promotions; growing families, holidays a-plenty, and getting onto the property ladder…so many impressive milestones and achievements! I genuinely felt (and continue to feel) so proud of my friends and fellow tweeters.
However, when it came to coming up with my own top three accomplishments of 2017, I struggled.
I couldn’t think of anything, really.
Now this may have had
a lot something to do with my gloomy disposition that day (the post-Christmas slump hit me harder than I anticipated). However, I still maintain that 2017 was not my particular year for hitting major life milestones.
I had no book deals; no graduations; no published short stories or poems; no promotions or boyfriends; no round-the-world trips or freelance company launches; no house of my own and no new cars.
It seems that my 2017 was a little quiet if you compare it with everyone else’s online announcements.
Obviously, the first thing I told myself was to remember the small matter of a filtered life; while someone’s year may seem to be filled with success, you never really get to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
Nonetheless, it’s hard to keep up with things sometimes, and to feel like you’re making progress in life when your own goals seem to fall a little short compared to what everyone else seems to be doing.
This is something I’ve read about a lot, and something I’d like to look into more too; but in summary, I’ve started to learn that everyone is on a different path, and on a different timeline, and life isn’t all about hitting ‘milestones’. Who even determines these milestones anyway?
Anyway, there’s a whole draft blog post waiting to be published about all of that.
2017 was a quieter year for me, yes – but it was not completely uneventful; I have plenty to be grateful for, and plenty of good memories and small victories to celebrate. 2017 was very much been a ‘journey year’ for me; I spent my months progressing slowly towards my goals and aspirations, and enjoying the scenery en route.
It was a good year, and I am very lucky indeed; especially considering how devastating and challenging it was for so many others across the world, with so many local tragedies too.
Last year I wrote a post exploring why I was grateful for 2016, and in the spirit of positivity and gratitude I’d like to do the same thing this year, as a sort of review.
You might be feeling similar things, thinking that what you did last year wasn’t worth celebrating…but like me, you’re probably just being hard on yourself.
Sometimes just getting on and making small steps is the perfect definition of success; you don’t need a ring on your finger, your name on a hardback or a six-figure bank statement to have a successful year. Sometimes just surviving, maintaining balance, and overcoming hurdles are the biggest and best victories you can celebrate when New Year’s Eve comes around.
So, without further a-do, here’s why I’m grateful for 2017.
(And, while I am here, thank you for making the last 365 days wonderful, inspiring, challenging and valuable.)
This year, I’m grateful for…
My family; for their continual and unconditional love, support, good health and company, always and forever.
My friends; for sticking by me, lending an ear, joining me for coffee, and inviting me into their lives.
Hiding away for a week with my family in the peace and quiet of the Lake District, with books, fresh air, chequers, and shelter from the rain. Very lucky to have gone on such a lovely holiday.
Experiencing Paris (and Disneyland!) as an adult with a great bunch of ladies for a fantastic hen do, and making new friends in the process.
Celebrating a total of three marvellous marriages, with some wonderful people.
Good health and a warm home; same as last year, and every year.
Hitting my one year blogging anniversary. Here’s to the next!
My career: from building my CV and portfolio to meeting brilliant researchers and sharing their work through words. I learn something new every single day.
Investing in my writing by taking two courses (Laura Jane Williams’s ‘Don’t be a writer, be a storyteller‘ and an evening course entitled ‘Writing Free Verse Poetry’). I met some talented, like-minded and motivated women, and learned an awful lot too. This was one of the biggest highlights of my year.
Continuing with my calligraphy (and even being commissioned to make some bits and pieces for weddings!)
Dating: I met some fascinating people, enjoyed a few fun nights out and, though I remain single (and unsure if I’m still ready to mingle), I have ended the year with some excellent stories and experiences.
Blogging opportunities: from reviewing fantastic shows like The Grapes of Wrath, Snow White and Finding Joy, to enjoying dinner at Thaikhun and Cabana, not to mention making my own Japanese dumplings. It’s been great fun; here’s to more.
Travelling to beautiful Bled with a few of my favourite people.
Mustering the courage to go on my first solo cinema trip.
Great TV, books and films; from The Power to Homegoing; Stranger Things to The Crown; Dunkirk to Hidden Figures. I’m barely scratching the surface!
Antibiotics and the NHS, for helping me to tackle a stubborn bout of adult acne (sigh), and for keeping my friends and family in tip-top condition.
Turning 27, and another year older. I’m no wiser, but I do have a few more grey hairs. I may be careering towards 30, but I am lucky to be here when so many others are not.
Learning more about my mental health, and working harder to practice self-care. It’s been a challenging year, but I feel like I’m understanding how my brain works a little more, and I can finally make plans to help myself.
Having the time to take myself out for coffee dates; give me all of the mochas, cinnamon buns and good books.
Focusing more on my writing, and experimenting more with poetry (Honest Haiku, anyone?). I think I wrote more in 2017 than any other year (since graduation, of course). Here’s to even more in 2018.
Learning to cook more. I make a mean carbonara now, from scratch!
Saving up for, and buying, a decent camera purely to use in my free time.
Being able to go out and enjoy good food in lovely local restaurants.
Enjoying fantastic theatre throughout the year; from The Cursed Child and The Grapes of Wrath to Finding Joy and taking Mum to see Funny Girl. I even went to see my first ever ballet at The Mayflower Theatre.
Having the chance to exercise my right to vote, and surrounding myself with opinionated, proactive, passionate people.
Practicing yoga (every now and again).
Getting home safe and sound on one of the scariest nights of the year, and knowing my friends were safe too.
Pret a Manger opening a branch where I work. Bad news for my purse, excellent news for my belly.
Day trips with friends and family, all over the place.
What is it about 2017 that you’re grateful for? Please share with me, I’d love to hear your stories.
Happy New Year everyone; I hope 2018 brings you everything you desire and deserve.