So. 2016 has been quite a ride, huh? While 2015 was a harder year for me on a personal level, I feel like 2016 has really taken a toll on all of us. Brexit, Donald Trump, Aleppo, terrorist attacks and an abnormally large number of celebrity deaths have all affected us in ways big and small, and while we’re all jokingly praying for 2016 to be over, in reality many of the events of this year are going to follow us into the next, their full impact still to be felt.
It’s hard to know what to do in the face of such tragedy, such hate, such uncertainty. I think all we can do is to be true to our best selves, to defend what is right wherever we can and take the high road even when others try to pull us down to their level. I went to a spoken word event recently where someone read an open letter by Sarah Kendzior, and a quote really resonated with me – “If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind.”
We also need to appreciate what we have, and find our own ways to make life good when it feels pretty rubbish. Even when the world seems overwhelmingly horrible, we should appreciate how much more fortunate we are than others and count our blessings – that is what will get us through. With that in mind, I’m going to bring this mini-essay-rant to a close, and talk about the best things that have happened to me in 2016.
I moved to a grown-up flat
After spending almost 2 years living in a 5-person houseshare in Headingley, I decided I was ready to downscale the housemate situation and move to city centre. I found a proper grown-up flat near Granary Wharf, complete with cosy furnishings, a balcony and just one housemate, and I absolutely love it. Being in city centre is so convenient and, as much as I loved all my old housemates, I’ve definitely enjoyed having fewer people to share a kitchen and bathroom with.
I travelled alone for the first time
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to so many countries all over the world, but it’s always bugged me that I’ve never gone on a trip alone. I wanted to prove to myself that I could cope by myself in an unfamiliar country, finding my way around without help and eating in restaurants without a companion. This year I went on a week-long holiday to Slovenia and it was a real success – I enjoyed my own company, met new people and completed my three-city tour without incident. Although there was that one time I tried to take a taxi to my hostel from a bar crawl, before the driver pointed out that it was just across the street…
I got promoted
In November I made a big step from Content Executive to Campaign Manager at my company, and it’s honestly one of the best things to happen all year. While my job still involves some content writing, which I love, it’s exciting to be taking a step forward and be given new challenges and responsibilities. It’s also lovely to get recogntion for the work you do – sometimes it’s hard to gauge what your colleagues and bosses think of you and being given a new opportunity really makes you feel like people have faith in your skills. I can’t wait to see where this job takes me in 2017.
My work team won an award
November was a big month for me professionally, because my company also won Best Travel Blog at the Travolution Awards! Our little content team have worked really hard this year on redesigning the site’s blog section, creating more and better content, and building our blogger network with guest posts, events and social media takeovers, but getting an industry award for it was completely unexpected. It’s fair to say we all had a little meltdown on our team WhatsApp group when we realised we’d won.
I went to an Irish wedding
While travelling in Australia in 2013 I met one of the world’s most awesome couples, and in August I flew to Ireland to watch them get married. While most people just have a wedding day, this happy couple decided that one day really wasn’t long enough for a proper party and booked three nights in a castle for pre-wedding drinks, a wedding day, and a post-wedding barbecue. I took my boyfriend to meet them, spent time with another of my lovely Irish buddies from Oz, danced until my lungs were about to burst and hung out in – yes – a freakin’ castle for two whole days. What a party.
….and received two more wedding invites
I’m clearly of that age now. The two invites I got this year feel all the more significant because they are from people who have been close friends of mine since we were at school together, and their getting married somehow makes us all feel a bit more grown up. They are both having their hen parties and getting married in summer 2017, and I feel so lucky and excited to be taking part in this huge step they’re both taking. I suspect a few more Save the Date cards might be falling through my letterbox in the coming year as well.
I made new friends
Once school and university are behind you it can be hard to find new friends – the new people you meet tend to be colleagues and friends/partners of people you already know. This year I’ve met some amazing ladies through Twitter and the Leeds blogging circle who have become in-real-life friends, and it’s great to have a new gang to go for after work drinks with or find a person who’ll go with you to weird events.
I went scuba diving
I learnt to scuba dive in 2013 when I took a post-uni year out to go travelling, and unexpectedly fell completely in love with it. Unfortunately the UK seas are a bit chilly for pleasant diving, so after clocking up 10 dives on my way around the world I found myself having to take a long break. A very long break – 3 years in fact. This year I went to Belize with a friend who also has a scuba license, and we managed to combine a snorkelling trip with one refresher-ish/private dive. Diving gives me a sense of peace that nothing else can, and now I’m keen to incorporate it into at least one of my holidays in 2017.
What good things happened to you in 2016? Share your high points in the comments!