2017 has been one of the most difficult years of my life, but equally the most transformative and rewarding. It was a year in which my sense of self was knocked down again and again, but in these moments of uncertainty and loss I learnt more about myself than ever before and grew exponentially stronger in the process.
I went from struggling to find the beauty and motivation in the everyday to revelling in it. Losing my sense of comfort in how I understand the world (and myself) forced me to re-evaluate my priorities and learn to cherish what really matters to me.
Before I talk about what I have learnt from 2017 I wanted to share some highlights of my year:
- I had an incredible time travelling to Florence, Montreal and Tilburg in the Netherlands for the first time
- I visited three new countries, Colombia Peru and St Lucia, making my country count a boggling 42!
- I had the invaluable experience living in the mountains of Colombia for a month and a half this summer, working for a fair trade coffee company
- I finished my second year of university with good grades and am starting my third and final year at Exeter
- I have continued to write exciting travel content for The National Student and with them have had the honour of partnering with great brands like STA Travel and YHA Hostels
- I became Vice President of my university’s chapter of Her Campus
- I have read 42 books this year (…getting weird LOST/Hitchhiker’s guide vibes right now)
- I made so many incredible and (I hope) lifelong friends at home and abroad
- I brought this blog back to life!
- I have improved my photography and made wonderful connections on Instagram
- I have written a poetry collection I am really proud of and hope to publish in the new year
Looking back at these experiences and achievements instils in me how amazing this year has truly been and how fortunate I am to have had these opportunities. It also puts into perspective every moment of struggle and doubt, reminding me that for each moment of pain there has been infinitesimally more good.
More than anything 2017 has taught me:
- To be unapologetically myself
- To always seek experiences that force me outside my comfort zone, to explore, because that’s where I am the happiest and grow most as a person
- To never take anything, or anyone, for granted
- To stand up for my talents and skills, rather than sell myself short
- To forgive myself for mistakes and look at them with gratitude as lessons, rather than in shame
- To look after myself and that taking time to nurture activities I love – reading, writing, photography, climbing etc. – is vitally important
- To surround myself with amazing, supportive people who inspire and motivate me everyday
I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing and have so much to learn, but going into 2018 I feel healthy, strong, and happy and that’s the best I can ask for. To be honest, the world is a bit of a mess right now and when I think of the next few months – leaving university, starting a new chapter in life – I’m terrified, but as much as I see discord and fear, I see love and hope, and that’s what I’m going to fight for in every way I can. I am so excited for what the next 12 months will hold, and I have a strong feeling that 2018 is going to be one for the books.
In the words of Violet Chachki (from Rupaul’s drag race, 2017 was also my introduction to reality TV, don’t judge) 2018, “COME THROOUUUUGH” xx