Gratitude is something I’m trying to practise more. I’m a worrier and an overthinker, which means it’s easy to miss the good stuff even when it’s right in front of me. (Anyone else?) So I’m learning to appreciate it more, including the little things (which, looking back, often turn out not to be so little after all).
The year hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows, as you’ll see below, but I feel lucky and hopeful for the first time in a while. Here’s my 2019 in numbers.
Trip abroad, to Oslo. I sluggishly toured the city on a Segway (I’m not built for speed—in the end the tour guide had to pull me along to catch up with everyone else), sailed round the harbour on a boat, trudged through a nighttime snowstorm, and made it out of an escape room with minutes to spare. Mostly thanks to the help of my co-workers, but it was a victory all the same. Oslo is a beautiful city, very chilled out (and very clean!), and the people are so friendly.
Promotion and pay rise. We have a new system where you have to fill in a form to demonstrate why you deserve a raise, so I went ham with links, screenshots and quotes from my co-workers, because we get one opportunity per year. I’ve worked hard and will continue to do so—knowing this is paying off is extremely satisfying.
Years since I’d seen two of my uni friends—until we enjoyed a staycation in London, that is. And it was wonderful, because it was like no time had passed at all. We just fell back into our familiar, easy way of being with each other, but with the bonus of having plenty to catch up on. For Llion, it was the first time he’d been to London at all, and for Harry and I, it was a chance to do some of the touristy things we’d overlooked, like visiting the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. We also met out friend Giulia for a drink at the Shard while the sun set one evening, which was lovely.
Times I attempted the drive to work after my car accident, before it finally happened. Now I’m back living with my parents, it’s easier to get the train, but knowing I did it, and am capable of doing it, is a huge weight off my shoulders. Since I moved home, I’ve been trying to drive around during the day, and every time I finish a journey I feel like I’ve done something significant, even if I’ve just driven down to town to grab some bread and return my library books. There have been a couple of hairy moments—being undertaken on roundabouts by people in enormous cars, having to do the drive of shame out of the petrol station because I couldn’t parallel park close enough to the pump—but compared to what I was doing six months ago? It’s progress.
Years since I’d taken a dance class, before I went to a heels class taken by an old school friend and had a laugh trying to strut around to Lady Gaga. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. I was more into ballet than anything else when I was growing up, but the atmosphere was so chilled and fun (thanks Ryan!) that I just tried to throw myself into it. I struggled to walk normally for the next few days, but that won’t stop me from going again.
The name of the West End musical about Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr (i.e. Henry VIII’s six wives, but the whole point of the musical is that they’re more than just spouses, which is why I listed their names first). It is BRILLIANT. Witty, funny, well-researched, moving, and an all-round good time. It’s also a reminder that so much of history has been written by men—there are so many stories that need to be uncovered, or looked at through a different lens. The audience (including me and my friend Steph) were reacting like it was the end of the show after every single number. Go and see it in London or on the UK tour if you get the chance.
Months since I finished therapy for PTSD. The car accident I mentioned earlier caused a big shift in my brain (literally—check out my post on trauma and antidepressants for more detail about that). You’re wired to protect yourself from anything dangerous, and so recovery from PTSD can’t happen through medication or positive thinking alone. You have to find ways to process the traumatic memory so your brain doesn’t go into fight or flight every time you’re confronted with a similar situation. In my case, it’s driving, especially anything to do with lorries, getting too close to other vehicles, or narrow, bendy roads.
I finished my last NHS therapy session in January. I’m now considered to be in recovery, which means I’m not showing symptoms on a severe level or on a regular basis, although I do still get nervous with anything road-related. I use the tools I was given whenever I feel on edge in the car, and (fingers crossed) it seems to be working so far.
Times I was grateful for the people I have in my life at the moment. Yes, cue the extra serving of cheese as I wrap things up. I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert, and I definitely need plenty of time alone to recharge, but I’ve also realised that spending time with others is more important to me than I once thought. I like funny people with good stories, who are caring but also happy to tell you when you’re being a dick. It’s all about balance, or so I hear.
How has your year been? Let me know in the comments.
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!