This post has been bubbling away in my mind for months. As the summer weeks breezed by in a flurry of sweaty tube journeys to work and evening drinks barelegged in pub gardens, I tried to put the end of the year to the back of my thoughts. But with winter now in full swing, with its dark mornings and nights spent indoors, it’s the imminent close of 2014 that has got me feeling thoughtful and reflective about the last 365 days, and all that they’ve brought with them.
I’ve found myself categorising years as either “good” or “bad” for a long time now. I look back on years gone by and decide, based on fleeting memories or singular awful events, whether they were complete disasters or worthy of mention. Like 2001, when Britney Spears released her self-titled album which I listened to on repeat – that was a good year. Fast forward to 2005, though, and you’re looking at a year of big changes and upsetting events – a bad apple, for sure.
Why should we view years in such black and white terms? What does it achieve, to judge whole masses of time on the effects of one life-changing incident or a number of lucky coincidences? Is it not more meaningful, more rewarding, to live every day as it’s own, rather than part of a year you may already have written off as a bit meh?
This is the rationale behind my decision to let go of the concept of a “good” or “bad” year. Years will always be mixed bags; assortments of fuzzy feelings, belly laughs, stinging failures, dashed hopes and a wider despair for the world at large. Some will be better than others, some months may bestow mishap upon misfortune, but they may be followed by a string of special moments and memorable adventures.
– – –
In 2014 I definitely experienced all the flavours a pic ‘n’ mix year has to offer. Serious illness blighted my family and friends, sparking a new brand of anxiety that I hadn’t had the displeasure of tasting previously. I started to worry frantically about falling ill, or even dying, myself. My fears manifested as physical “symptoms” I’m still not fully convinced are the makings of my anxious imagination.
On the flip side of that, I’ve worked hard to overcome some deep-rooted anxieties which had dragged themselves around in my shadow for years. I’ve become excited about travelling again, and have booked a trip away with my sister which would not have been an option for me a few short months ago.
This year saw me lose contact with one of my oldest friends, something I still give a lot of thought to and feel occasionally sad about. I suppose we’re at the age when, if both of your principles and ambitions fall significantly short of lining up, there’s nothing but a shaky foundation of “history” to keep the friendship afloat. In part, the experience inspired me to work harder on the connections I have with the wonderful people around me. I rekindled a friendship from long ago with someone who was closest to me during my adolescence. I became even closer with my beautiful sister. I worked on being more understanding, supportive and compassionate in my relationship. I cherished the hilarious and eclectic group of women I am lucky enough to work with, who have passed that sometimes tricky transition from colleagues to friends.
My self-belief has taken a (self-inflicted) knock or two this year. I’ve found myself dealing with a higher level of self-doubt than I’d experienced before, which has grown to inhibit me from going after opportunities I want. This, along with some pretty severe stress from my day job, sparked the beginning of a quarter-life crisis I’m still in the throes of. I started asking myself questions like Why am I not just living on a beach in Thailand? When will I ever be able to save money to build my future? Why do I spend so many hours doing things I don’t feel excited about?
I’ve been able to remedy these feelings of failure and angst by focusing even more on my writing goals and creative aims. I’ve immersed myself in blogs, and have been introduced to the writing of several talented and exciting young women. Twitter has proved ever-more a resource for discovering like-minded people, and I’ve found a way into the world of online writing that inspires me.
I go into 2015 with few concrete plans, but a bunch of ideas. For starters, I’ll be abandoning the idea of a good or bad year, and will instead focus on celebrating the successes and learning from the hardships, accepting them all as part and parcel of life. I pledge to let go of the negative thoughts that are weighing down my progression, and to focus my energies on the relationships I feel happy in, and the opportunities that will make me feel fulfilled.