It has always fascinated me how twelve months can either feel like an eternity, or they can pass us by in what seems like a nanosecond. There never seems to be any in-between. A wise man once told me that whilst the days are long, the years are short. For the longest time, I never truly interpreted what he meant. I thought perhaps he’d gotten his words jumbled. But after a three year journey of self-growth and a pursuit of happiness, I finally understand.
A viral video was recently shared across social media, contextualising just how brief our time on earth really is, and how large a chunk of our lives we spend working, simply in order to enable us to live a happy, fulfilled life. Isn’t it funny, how we often measure our success, or how fulfilled our life has been by how much money we have in the bank? We work, often in jobs we dislike or barely tolerate, simply so that we can survive, put food on the table and sleep in a comfortable bed. But when our time runs out, what will we really remember? The fluctuating figures of our bank account, or those beautiful, effortless memories we made as we ran barefoot through the warm sand on a summer’s day, the simple joy of working a job we really, truly loved – even if we didn’t have much money?
With every year that leaves us behind, and with every shiny new year that I excitedly welcome into my home as glasses clink at midnight, the more I learn about the world, myself and ultimately (and most pivotally), what I want to leave behind when my time runs out.
The last twelve months have been a complete whirlwind, as far as my diary goes. Two years ago, I never could have imagined I’d be where I am now, leaps and bounds ahead of where I was back then, stuck in a rut in a job that made me miserable, depressed and completely crushed any spirit I had. It’s true what they say, your life really can change in an instant. It’s incredible, magical, even, what you’re capable of if you strive for something you want. In the past twelve months, my life has changed completely and, in the process, I have learned a few lovely little things about who I really am…
1) I have learned that I am a genuinely, lovely person.
I know, this sounds completely egotistical. But why shouldn’t we acknowledge our loveliness from time to time? I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and admit if i’ve been a total bitch, but I think it’s just as important – and as good for the soul – to acknowledge our strengths of character.
In the past year, I have learned that I am a person who really will go the extra mile to help somebody. And there doesn’t even have to be any form of incentive. If I see somebody struggling to carry their books, i’ll walk the long way home just to lighten their load. I make ‘spare’ packed lunches, just in case I happen to pass any homeless people on my way into work. I’ll buy a coffee for the lady ahead of me in Costa, when she realises with dismay she’s left her purse back in the office. I give to charity, and smile at everybody who passes me by. I believe that if we all did our bit to help others, to make them smile, the world would be a much better place.
2) I have learned that I can cook!
Before moving in with Michael, I could barely boil an egg. I was completely, utterly hopeless in the kitchen. I frequently burnt toast, and couldn’t even butter bread without shredding it until it was fit for nothing more than the bird feeder. Since we met, we’ve collected tons of bits and bobs, which are now proudly dotted around our home. Amongst these items are a series of cook books, some of which were lovingly scooped at a bargain of 5op from my local charity shop. When we moved in, I devoted so much time to those books, learning the basic sciences of cooking until I could finally conjure a meal without A) Burning the house down, B) Killing a loved one or C) Throwing in the towel and ordering a pizza. Okay, admittedly still do the last one sometimes. But at least now, I do so out of choice, not because the alternative is soggy rice and under-cooked meat!
P.S – My current favourite dish to make is chilli bolognese. Perhaps I’ll post my recipe?
3) I have learned that I’m a really great listener.
Every day, all thanks to my job, I meet the most inspirational people who have either been through an utterly devastating experience, or a completely wonderful one. Either way, the people I meet have a valuable story to tell, a lesson to teach, and I have the absolute pleasure of writing their story. I have found that there’s absolutely nothing in this world like reading a story back to somebody, and hearing tears of joy from down the other end of the phone. That’s when I know I have done a truly good job.
4) I have learned that I am very maternal.
When we moved into our home, we wasted absolutely no time at all in deciding to get ourselves a puppy. And, although Luna is ‘just a dog’, she is treated every bit as well as a child would be. Call me crazy, but I truly believe that comforting, training and loving a tiny puppy who has just been cruelly taken from her mother has put me in excellent stead for motherhood.
5) I have learned that living with your partner is TOUGH!
I have found, in the seven months of living in my own space, that living with a partner can bring both the best and worst out in a person. And I have been no exception. Since moving in, Michael and I have grown closer than ever. But we’ve also had more arguments in these short seven months than we have had in the entire six years of our relationship. Fights about who should rightfully change the toilet roll, whose turn it is to do the dishes and why the lights have been left on when nobody is actually in the room have most definitely become the ‘norm’ for us. There have been days when we’ve giggled in paint-splattered overalls, washing down cupcakes with cups of tea and coffee as we chat about the next home improvement project, and there have been days when we’ve barely spoken at all. Sometimes, I even lock myself in the bathroom and turn on the taps so that Michael cannot hear me crying. But despite the rain, the sunshine always prevails.
6) I have found a fresh appreciation for all the little things…
Who knew I could ever get *SO* excited about a new potato peeler?? Who knew stocking up on cleaning products could feel so.damn.GOOD?!
7) I have matured.
I have cut ‘fake’ and ‘toxic’ friends out of my life completely. I have avoided all potential links to drama like the Black Death. I have deleted people I do not actually know from Facebook. I have COMPLETELY transformed my wardrobe. All of these are, in my opinion, signs that I am really, truly becoming an adult.
8) I have learned that it’s okay to stop, breathe and reflect.
Sometimes, we get caught up in the toxicity of the day-to-day and it’s so easy to allow our lives to become stagnant. Repetitive. BORING. I was once told that in order to move forwards, we must first look back at how far we have come, and how much we have accomplished. Only then can we truly look forwards, set new goals and strive to smash down every barrier standing in our way.
9) I have learned that comparison is deadly.
It seems to me that so many of us measure our own success by drawing comparison from the achievement of others. But I have never quite understood why we do this to ourselves. In a world that tries so hard to beat us down, we should be using our diverse strengths to lift one another up. We are all different, and we each have our own unique set of wonderful skills and abilities which allow us to grow in an often dull world. Can you imagine how boring life would be if all of our journeys were identical? There is intrigue in variety, there is a certain purity in failure, and there is most definitely beauty in self-growth and the courage to be different.
10) I have learned that I really DO have too many clothes…
But I barely wear ANY of them!
11) I have learned to stop worrying – or to try, at the very least!
I worry about things before there is even cause to worry about them. I worry that I shouldn’t be worrying about something that I am worrying about. I even worry that my parents will worry that i’m worrying about something I probably shouldn’t be worried about, yet I continue to worry in any case.
I have ALWAYS been a worrier. And it drives me insane! I have learned that there is really no sense in worrying about something, until you either need to, or know that there is something you can actively, productively do to contribute to the aversion of any form of worry.
12) I have learned to ignore the critics.
There will always be somebody out there telling you that what you’re doing isn’t quite good enough. There will always be somebody who is tragically, so insecure about their own life that they make it their business to make you feel insecure about yours. Please, do not let them crush your spirit or destroy who you are! Always remember that their intolerance of you is a reflection of their issues, NOT yours!
Have you learned much about who you are this year?
Let me know in the comments section below!
All my love