2016, wow. What a year. I don't think there's ever been a year so full of promising highs and catastrophic lows! There's many questions I'd like to ask: where on earth did the duration of you go? Why did you have to be so cruel yet also so kind? How did you ever manage to become so significantly transformative? but more than anything, I owe it a massive thank you. A thank you for introducing me to the real mortal dying to get out there, a thank you for teaching me the true value of happiness, a thank you for showing me the importance of life, how fortunate I am, and how sticking together as a supportive, understanding network can help rid of the negative - and damn right terrifying - worldly goings on and political downfalls. A thank you for throwing challenges ahead to allow me to fortify my inbuilt strength and a thank you for ending with hope, despite what may be recurrently happening around my weary head.
I don't even know where to begin on rounding up these insane twelve months (and quite frankly, I don't want to get too carried away with a 5000 word essay for you all to give up with reading half way through). In summary; I've learnt a lot and on a personal level, it's been a whirlwind of emotions and moments worth noting for eternity. I've experienced euphoria, then days where I've lost all faith. I've had to deal with some tough realisations, the exposed truth of authenticity and some pretty rubbish burdens. My days have been few and fair between but ultimately, 2016 has changed me in ways I never thought was possible.
For a breakdown of my achievements and the momentous events I'll hold close to me as I continue to grow and develop as a person not just an adult (yikes!), I'm going to make a mark and review those in two segments: general life and blogging life.
The beginning of the year started off ordinary, drastically the same old average daily musings that didn't particularly have any meaning and just fastened themselves onto me as I drifted through life neither joyous or gloomy - just slap bang in the middle, beginning to get fed up. It wasn't until the summer of July that it all just exploded into madness, but the exuberant kind that's made me the person I am at the end of 2016.
I made friends. Real friends that actually physically want to be around me, the ones who take me for who I am without any interrogating judgement, the kind that stay up all night with you if you're in a state of crisis, who you can laugh and cry with countless times, miss the presence of upon the very moment you leave their side, and who understand and match your weird and wacky ways. It was the most unexpected occurrence (a soap opera bringing people together, who would've thought?!) but the extensive journey of bonding, connecting and making more memories is what spurs me on to keep going, holds my head high and keeps my social life at the best level it's ever been. Without a doubt, my friends for life. I couldn't be more grateful to finally have people in my life I can depend on, love wholeheartedly and even go on holiday abroad with. Tenerife 2017 is happening, I probably will come back inhuman but one thing I know for sure is there's plenty more room for those memories awaiting to be created. Bring it on.
I travelled. Okay so not to the exotic countries where all the most favoured Instagram stories are located, but to here, there, and everywhere for casual outings that ended up being special and worthy. I revisited my second home in Spain with the family where I enjoyed two weeks of sun but also two weeks of familiar faces and well needed relaxation. I contracted a hefty adoration for Manchester and its routes, headed back to the vibrant city of London for the first time since 2014 and even took advantage of my own city gems.
I toured. And not just the gig kind of tours where I can ransack my extravagant mixed taste in music (Jake Quickenden, to Shane Filan, to The 1975 - yeah some may say it's pretty diverse) but also the kind of touring that is not only congenial (ahem, the Strictly! arena tour) but beneficial and reminiscent too. I managed to meet a whole bunch of my most idolised celebs per-se this year, attended an entirety of party occasions and joined the tour of the Once Upon A Smile event system where I can not only give back to those in need but spend time with a group of people who allow me to blossom.
I dabbed in freelance. I feel like I've definitely become more independent this year, and doing my own thing in my own time has had a positive outcome on my path in life, where my head is at and what I believe is right for my future. I've found it's fine to be a little bit selfish, putting your need for contentment above anything else can do more good than harm and actually, you can discover your true potential. I've loved taking on certain challenges which in turn boosted my skills and upped the interest in the approach I proceed to work on.
I found myself. I don't think I'll ever be at peace with myself, I'll pick on my flaws and make myself feel inferior but this year, since becoming a upbeat, more carefree individual with the flourish of freedom, I've mastered the technique of positive thinking and all round that's allowed me to become a kinder, better person; not only to myself but others around me, too. I've established my personality and integrity, I don't pretend to be someone I'm not and certainly have grown to realise I mustn't care if this doesn't please my peers because I'm doing what I like, for me. No longer am I letting people walk all over me or treat me like dirt! In terms of no self belief or self confidence I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders in the past few months. There's still a long way to go but I can now be proud of who I choose to be, what I have become, my beliefs and even my appearance. This is purely because of who I've surrounded myself with. The riddance of the toxicity works wonders for a fresh outlook and a clean plate of preconception. My mind is open, I'm careful in taking the views of others and the facts of life into consideration and really getting a grasp of what matters. I've embraced cultures, raised my guard for equal rights and supported crucial charities. This new perspective I hold is one I want to keep as I mature.
I've been blogging for three years now and it's been a constant dip. A process that can often leave me either inspired, overwhelmed, flummoxed or despaired (literally, there is no in between) but one which I intend on sticking by because at the end of the day, it's my passion, it's what I aim to improve as each minute, hour, day, month, and year passes and what I love to look back and reflect on. This year has been a mixed ordeal; I've had strong points and weak points, sometimes become distant, sometimes life's got in the way and this in term has affected my blogging platform but fundamentally this little part of the internet and all its links never fails to astonish me and provides me with opportunities I could only ever dream of - and this year, despite its temporary suffering and (admittedly) slacking from my end, hasn't been any different!
I instigated my content. In every department possible. I started to really plan and organize all my thoughts and ideas, spilled them on a page, let my fingers do the talking, and actually received reassuring feedback from my exclusive narrative. I focused on the quality more than quantity and found I felt less forced to blog as a chore opposed to off my own back. Both my writing and my photography is still an ongoing operation that I thrive on and my indecisive nature is slowly but surely starting to move away to a place I can post about whatever interests me in the moment instead of a strict schedule. I'm still not sure on the place I belong in the blogging community but I can only keep doing my own thang.
I opened up. In May this year I took a step that I thought I'd never find the courage to take. I shaped the most personal part of my persona into a public announcement not just for my own sake, but for the grasping of matters close to me. I don't want my health to define me as a person but telling the world about my life as a stroke survivor just felt like a breath of fresh air that melted away the secrets, like I'd opened the door to another chapter and moved several valiant steps forward from the past that daunts me. I'm the sort of person to bottle things up, only share a tiny fraction of my life on social media, expose nothing imaginable and beat around the bush with my battles but doing this triggered my confidence and empowered my comfortableness in expressing how I really feel. Now I'm composed enough to tackle the issues not only I struggle with, but for the benefit of others, too. Living with chronic pain isn't easy but now integrating that part of me into my blog is so helpful and encouraging.
I stopped comparing. It's really difficult, I'm not even going to deny that fact. When there's great success circling the mere existence of where your manifesto lays then it's impossible not to watch the detailed lives of the beautiful bloggers and vloggers with their perfect existence, their high follower count, heavenly insta feeds, dandy relationships and handful of victories whilst you stand in the same spot. Only it's not perfect, it's far from it. We choose what we share, and they so happen to be the best bits. That's why mid this year I made the decision to just quit analysing how I don't match up to the mega triumphant influencers and carry on with my own online presence. That in turn hastened my desire to find my unique point and contributed to the fulfilment I currently feel.
I made a list of goals. I may have stopped being so harsh on myself but that doesn't mean I'm never thinking about ways I could and need to upgrade and enhance. As the year stems quicker than you find reachable, those lightbulb moments still flicker and I constantly take note of what I want to sharpen. This year I've thought about:
- migrating from blogger to wordpress
- managing my social media accountability
- expanding my platform/s
- update my template
- polishing my love for and ability to produce content based around my passion for fashion and makeup
- reconnecting with bloggers
- being a lot more interactive, in term boosting my stats
I'm looking forward to implementing them into the new year and if I don't manage to, then I'm not going to fret too much, either.
I relished in a world of prospect. From spending a whole year part of the Styling Society, to entering and becoming successful in competitions, to being contacted by brands I could have easily pinched myself at, to collaborating lucratively, to being sent and gifted the most generous amount of products and samples to review, to being involved in exciting events - the casual kind, the scene to eat, drink, and be merry, the informative spectrum, and even the pampering, the professional and the photoshoots. Here's to another year of unpredictable happenings that give me a reason to dream!
It's become a pattern for me to set targets but this year, with my modified mindset I've decided I'm gonna stay nonchalant. I don't want to be particularly obliged to definitely get things done but just go with the flow instead. Work hard, keep pushing myself, strive, go with my heart, and enjoy the wild ride of the adventure that's just began. I can honestly say I'm excited for a new year with many possibilities. I'm strangely optimistic and relentlessly positive about 2017 which is a rare moment I'm gonna indulge in. I have a feeling it's gonna be my hear and I hope it's yours, too.
If you reached the end of this incessant post, then congratulations and THANK YOU (just so you know, I can never stop passing my gratitude for the support). However you're celebrating at midnight tonight, let's hope for a happy, healthy, prosperous and wonderful new year. The world is in your hands!
See you on the other side.