I think we’d all agree that as a whole, 2016 has been an absolute shitter of a year.
But on a personal level, things haven’t been too bad for me, though I’ve certainly had my ups and downs (as we all do). I’ve got a lot to be proud of and a lot to be grateful for — something I try and remember when it feels like the whole world is on fire. I also feel like I’ve learned a lot this year.
1. Life after university is fucking hard.
You go from the sort-of independence being a student affords you, what with rent and studying and a social life in a kind of bubble, to the actual working world. Or you try to. Intern culture and expensive housing mean you often find yourself back with your parents, despite dramatic declarations that you would NEVER LIVE AT HOME AGAIN. Ahem.
2. Sometimes what you think you want isn’t actually what you want.
Life doesn’t always happen the way you expect it to — this much I know. Sometimes this is because things go awry, but sometimes things go the way you wanted them to, only for you to find out it’s not quite what you imagined after all. It’s very confusing and also a little bit of a relief when you realise this. Confusing because your expectations haven’t been met and a relief because you’re learning to be honest with yourself about what’s right for you. Look at you, adulting.
3. When shit happens, the little things matter more than ever.
There are the celebrity deaths, the conflicts that continue to this day, the big world events (looking at you, Brexit and Trump)… and they’re enough to make even the most optimistic person among us feel like crap. Which is why the smaller everyday things — making a bloody good dinner, having a chat with your friend/sibling/parents, for example — are so important. I’m all for being well-informed when it comes to the news but it’s also vital to prioritize your own wellbeing and take time out when you need it.
4. Just because someone isn’t part of your life anymore doesn’t mean you won’t think about them or hope they’re okay.
This is normal. Bittersweet and often just plain shit, but normal.
5. Not every experience will be good, but you’ll learn something at the very least.
What you expect and what you’re promised are often very different from what you get. Dealing with it by taking away as much as you can makes the experience worthwhile, even though it feels like a waste of time.
6. Sometimes the best opportunities are the ones that scare you.
I don’t like feeling the fear but good things seem to happen when I dare to venture out of my comfort zone. Pushing yourself that little bit further is terrifying, no doubt about it, but taking all the easy options is too, strangely. Perhaps finding a balance between the two is key?
7. Achieving big goals is wonderful but so is ticking off the smaller steps that get you there.
I love making goals and reading about everyone else’s plans. In fact, January is one of my favourite times of year when it comes to blogging for that very reason. It’s easy to lose sight of the progress you’ve made when you’re focused on the end point though, and I’m definitely guilty of being too hard on myself, even when I’m doing just fine. Take my degree — I really, really wanted that 1st. But it took me a long time to stop panicking about my results and focus on each individual step. The brainstorming, library sessions, editing, workshopping, re-drafting, proofreading… it all added up. There were days when managing to leave the house and get to the library felt like the biggest hurdle, so I learned not to be too hard on myself and take it all one day at a time.
What did you learn in 2016? Let me know in the comments!
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin. Always thinking about my next meal.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!