BIG VICTORIES – 2016

Each month, I put together a Small Victories post, telling the internet (anyone that will listen) what I would like to achieve over the forthcoming 30 to 31 days. The decision to set these targets for myself was born from a desire to cut myself some slack halfway through last year and endeavour to celebrate the smaller achievements in life that that I am inclined to overlook whilst striving for twenty-something life-perfection, or as the youngsters call it, #goals.

Although I enjoy reaching for these smaller aims each month, we’ve reached that time of year again – a time for reflections and resolutions – so I thought it might be a better idea to share with you some of my bigger, more overarching aims for the year ahead instead.

So, if you would like to hear what I have planned for 2016, read on. And if you don’t? Then don’t. But be sure to take the time to reflect on your own resolutions.

Here goes.

1. Organise Myself

I want to make sure that I actually use my diary beyond the 14th January this year. Always one to scupper plans, clash dinner dates and forget to schedule posts on time, I am going to be so organised it hurts this year. Hopefully, this way, I’ll do – and achieve – a lot more. Last year was a chance to gather my thoughts and this year is a chance to take action.

2. See Things

Starting with Oslo at the end of this month and ending in Paris in December, I plan to see lots more of the world this year. After accepting that I no longer have what it takes for lengthy stints of backpacking, I will be enjoying clean sheets and shorter trips away throughout the year, enabling me to see snap shots of the world instead.

3. Learn Something New

I am going to learn how to code this year. I went to my first class last night and am already thinking about the usual anxieties about the next one: What do I wear? Who do I sit with? WILL ANYBODY LIKE ME?

I need to remember that – much like school – I am there to learn, not to socialise.

4. Never Work A Day In My Life

I want to find a job I love. I don’t want to just enjoy it, I want to really, really love it. I am looking for something that involves being creative and dynamic with perhaps a little bit of tech and travel involved. Where that might be? I’m not sure yet. Hopefully this will be the year I find out.

5. Give 

Finally, and most importantly, I want to choose a charity that I really believe in and actively support them throughout the year. Instead of lazily donating money each month to a selection of appeal posters that catch my eye on the tube, I want to get fundraising and spread the word for a good cause or two. Know of any charities who need a hand getting off the ground? Let me know, I’d love to help out.

So now you think about it. What would you like to achieve over the next 12 months?

If you’re not sure what to commit yourself to just yet, think about what would make you really happy and then write down the steps you will need to take to get there. And these are your resolutions. Simple.

Be sure to let me know what you’ve chosen to focus on this year and, that way, maybe we can spur each other on.

Good luck!

THE NEW YEAR

large (19)I feel like I have learnt more about myself in the past year than I have in the last 26 put together.

I started 2015 on what can only be described as the lowest I have ever been. I had no job, my relationship was hanging on by less than a thread and I was suffering quite severely with anxiety and low self esteem. I looked to the year ahead and couldn’t see past March to be honest. I felt as though everything I knew about myself was wrong, I didn’t know where I was going to be by the following January and, when things were really bad, I didn’t care.

But here I am. With a job I don’t love but I need, not for the money but peace of mind, a relationship that I wouldn’t trade for anything and a healthier outlook on the future.

Cliché or not, I genuinely can’t believe how much can change in a year.

Back in January, those closest to me kept saying that time was a healer and that things would change. They would remind me that nothing is permanent and that I wouldn’t feel this way forever. As you can imagine, I didn’t believe a single word of what they said. Instead, I chose to just bury my head in the sand and carry on with things by ignoring the stuff that was bothering me. This, of course, only made things worse. Until I decided to hit the reset button, chill the f out for a bit and start again.

And then just like that – or rather, six, quite long, quite difficult months later – on an ordinary day in December as I walked home from work, I realised that I didn’t feel sad, anxious, hurt or disappointed anymore. In fact, without knowing, I had grown in confidence, I was happier, more optimistic and driven than ever, but I didn’t feel these things outwardly, overwhelmingly or life-changeingly. I felt them in the most beautiful way possible: I simply felt okay again. And that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve when I hit the reset button back in July. I just wanted to feel like I was in control again and – finally – I do.

So, although I have friends who are joining me on a high of happiness at the close of the year – from engagements and career moves to pregnancies and new relationships – I also have those around me who have recently lost loved ones, who are caring for those who might not be with us for much longer and those who are nursing not broken, but completely shattered, hearts. And it is to those people who I am dedicating this New Year’s post to. Because I was you this time last year, waiting for midnight, hoping for a fairy godmother to appear and wash all of my troubles away with her magic wand. So, although you know as well as I did that she’s never going to come, I am here to remind you that, over the next few months, your luck will change, that there is still time to fix whatever it is that is broken and that by this time next year you will look back and almost be grateful for what you’ve just endured. It will take a few months of cutting yourself some slack, a dash of hard work and a whole lot of me time, but I promise, you will get there.

So, whether you’re excited, apprehensive or nervous about the coming year, be sure to surround yourself with the people you love tonight and give thanks for the things you do have, because that’s really the only thing that matters in this life.

See you in 2016 for another adventure.

Happy New Year.

The New Year

Despite numerous prophecies about the world coming to an end, more people than ever are excited about ‘that feeling’ that something huge is going to happen this year. I feel the same. Not because I actually believe that the world is going to end, but because I’ve come to the total realisation that life is what you make it. And what better time to start owning it than at the dawn of a new year.

So as everyone awaits for the world to spontaneously combust, I say what better time to take the opportunity to quite literally live each day as if it’s your last. It all began when I asked a friend if she ever sat still, to which she replied ‘You don’t make memories sitting on a sofa Olivia’. And this notion has stayed with me. I’m not suggesting daily sky dives or several spontaneous trips around the world, but make sure that this year, you smile each and every day. Or make someone else smile at the very least. Don’t talk about festivals, go to them. Desperate to talk to that guy you see every morning? Offer him a Wrigleys. Wish to learn a new language? Start with the basics. Take risks. Party hard. And be kind.

But most importantly, make every moment a Kodak moment. And by this, I don’t mean strive to permanently look camera ready, but make sure that 99% of the time you wish someone had a camera, because you know your life at that moment is something to be remembered.

Now, if the clock struck twelve and you had the chance to step into the next year or relive the last, what would you choose?

Make sure that next year, it wouldn’t matter either way.

Happy New Year.

The Clear Out

I never usually buy into the whole ‘New Year-New Me’ mantra, but this year feels different.

2011 brought with it some massive highs such as graduating from university but it also decided to drag me through some tremulous lows; the main culprit being a lengthy break-up with the perfect guy. And although I don’t actually believe that I can create a whole new me, and I probably wouldn’t want to given half a chance, I can improve me. So, I took to my closet, my chest full of treasures, my boxes of university crap and even braved the monster under the bed to get to organising the dusty boxes from days gone by.

Although the whole experience was admittedly rather cathartic, I have to say that amidst the cringe worthy glittery sequin numbers from teenage discos and joy on uncovering old Spice Girls CDs, the main things I discovered were both enjoyable and painful memories: most of which I would rather lock in my brain, rather than my bedroom. So what I thought was going to be a day full of liberating groans, actually turned out to be a weepy, yet powerful few days. Throwing away old bank statements, ticket stubs from pointless dates and sifting through cards from ex boyfriends meant that I got to choose what memories I keep from now on, as I realised that without these little reminders, I probably would never have even remembered ice-skating that December with some twat from the year below and that I once wore denim-on-denim: No matter how hard people try to tell me, it is not, and never will be, a good look.

However, aside from all the doom and gloom, there was a plus side to clearing out my room. I found hundreds of hilarious photographs of me and my girlfriends, reminding me why we’re still the best of friends. I found tons of clothes I would have once thrown away that I now love and will definitely be rocking this weekend. The love letters from ex-boyfriends, although saddening, reminded me that although after every break-up you feel like you will never find that with someone again, you always do (or at least something similar). But my most important find of all was my fourteen-year-old attempt at a diary. This little pink Paper Chase number exposed the insecurities of my younger self, and at a time where I am still deciding what to do with my life, surprisingly gave me some great advice. Scrawled throughout were cut-outs from magazines, brochures about journalism from LCF and Brown and all my ‘In ten years time I will be…’ statements read ‘Editor for VOGUE’. Although this would mean I’d have to climb the ladder from unemployed to editor within the next two years (an impossible feat), I can give it a good whack. And as I dwelt on my future for a while, I began to notice what lay before me: my past. And I then started to realise that where I am now, is a consequence of everything in this room. I realised that everything I do now, will one day be a memory, stacked away in a cardboard box. So I’d better make the next year or so great to ensure the next clear-out is just as worthwhile.

So if you’re wishing away 2011 and feel like wiping the slate clean, I would recommend having a bit of a clear out. But be warned: prepare yourself with a box of tissues, lots of tea and a cracking playlist to pump-it’s going to take a while.

So two days, three sacks of clothes, two bags of recycling and a dust-cold later, I am done.

Let’s just hope it looks this spotless come February.

I guarantee it won’t.

The Decade

This year I saw in one of my most potentially life changing years.

In contrast to previous New Years Eve celebrations which have been clouded with anxieties about the future, seeing in 2011 felt so liberating! Although we already saw in this freshly squeezed decade at the start of 2010, 2011 is the year that I and the rest of my gap year tragified friends graduate, it is the year I will see one of my best friends go off to travel the world, I will lose friends, forget friends and gain new ones, but more importantly I will be affirming my new phase in life: my twenties. By 2020 I will be 31 for god’s sake. I could have babies and a husband, converted to Islam or even become a lesbian by then!

I see this decade as pretty much the start of my life and I cannot wait. As much as I’ve enjoyed the entire university/whole further education experience, my god I can’t wait to leave. I want to be back here in London; feeling the buzz of city life again, breathing in dirty air, befriending people on the tube and just generally being free again.

Bring on this confuzzling phase I say! It’s pretty much our parent’s version of the 80’s, recession included and they seem like they had a blast!

On the other hand though, Nostrebumnus or whatever his name is, predicted 2012 to be the end of the world, as did the wonderful Jay Sean (both of which, very reliable) which makes me think maybe I need to just focus on the year ahead rather than the next ten. What if the world does end in 2012? Guess I’ll have to live it up in 2011 just in case.

I think it’s going to be a good one. I can feel it. And if not, at least we know it’s going to be eventful!

Happy New Year you beautiful people.