2018 – what I’ve loved, learned, done and become

I say it every year, and today is going to be no different – this year has been easily one of the best of my life.

2018 has been packed full of adventures, achievements and amazing memories. I always feel really sentimental at the end of the year; I’m lucky to lead an incredibly privileged and exciting life and I feel so grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had.

What I’ve loved in 2018

I feel like this year was my “year of realising things”, in the words of Kylie. Particularly with regards to my taste in music, I’ve found the artists and genres I love, whereas in previous years some of what I “liked” stemmed from what was cool to like. One thing I have loved is this year I finally gave in to a free trial of Spotify Premium, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I became dependent on it! I’ve discovered Jorja Smith and Rex Orange County (both of whom I now ADORE) through using Spotify premium (honestly I don’t know how I’ve not discovered them up til now) and my love for The Wombats has resulted in me buying tickets to their tour in January, waheyyy.

I’ve fallen in love again with reading. Not that I ever fell out of love with it per se, but this year I’m head-over-heels for it. I’ve been reading a lot of classic literature this year, partly in preparation for uni next year but also just for fun, and I’ve found some of my fav books from doing so. I’m writing this post on 29th December so we’ve just celebrated Christmas – I was given 3 books as gifts, and then with some of the money I was given I’ve ordered 12 more from World of Books. 12. In hindsight maybe that’s a little bit ridiculous but I’m also SO excited to read them all. Another thing I’ve loved this year is buying books second-hand (I wrote a post about why you should buy pre-loved books which you can read by clicking here); there’s something thrilling in walking into a charity shop not knowing what you’re going to find, then coming out with 3 or 4 books you’ve been looking for for a while.

I’ve loved not having exams this year. I had mocks in July which I found slightly stressful (more due to their timing than for the actual exams, as I had various open days and holidays and not a lot of time to revise). Next year a lot of my focus is going to be on doing well in my A Levels, but this year, it’s been such a relief to not have to be revising intensely. I feel like I really needed a less-pressured year than GCSE year.

On a lighter note – TV! I’ve loved The Apprentice and The Great British Bake Off and I’ve watched some amazing films this year too; Paddington 2 was great and Mamma Mia Here We Go Again was incredible. Some of these films were watched with my friends – we had a cancelled alpaca trek so decided to go to the York cinema, then the film we wanted to watch was cancelled so we ended up on The Spy Who Dumped Me, which turned out to be fab. Mamma Mia 2 was also iconic; picture two rows of 17 year olds all bopping along and singing all the lyrics…amazing.

The long, frickin’ hot summer we had. I. N. C. R. E. D. I. B. L. E. It was 37°c whilst I was in Berlin – not good news, being a ginger. Saying that though, I love the heat and sun so I was flourishing in summer.

What I’ve learned in 2018

“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself extremely blest – blest beyond what language can express.” – Jane Eyre

This year I’ve concentrated on self-growth a lot. I’m seeing life as one big lesson, an experience which you can learn from and ultimately which will make you a better, more developed (and maybe more wise?!) person. I read somewhere that you should “fill your life with love” and I’ve decided, that’s going to be my motto for 2019. What else should you live for? Life is so short so we all really need to live for our loves. Mindset = everything. Let’s stay positive.

I’ve learned that worrying gets you nowhere helpful. In fact, it makes you suffer twice, in the words of Newt Scamander. I need to live life fully, embrace it and stop worrying because… I can’t think of any other (non-cringey) way to put this, I’m so sorry…YOLO. You only live once, so what’s the point in wasting time worrying?

You can be unapologetically yourself and you should be comfortable with that. It’s hard sometimes, but your friends and family should know the real you and not some version or facade that you feel you have to project. Be y o u, and be confident being you.

There’s a silver living to every black cloud. If something bad or unwanted happens, it’s to make room for a desired, positive thing.

Finally, I’ve learned that whenever I fall completely head over heels for a musician or band, they’ll always, always be on tour, meaning that I can’t get tickets to see them. It’s a nightmare guys, honestly.

What I’ve done in 2018

I’ve done a lot – I’m 80% sure on the night before I publish this post I’ll be frantically adding all the experiences I’ve forgotten to include.

Academics first. I sent off my UCAS Application to 5 universities. I received an interview offer from the University of Cambridge, and got offers from the other 4 unis too (buzzing!!!). I went on a road trip around Warwickshire and Herefordshire. I visited Shakespeare’s house. I saw a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company (The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich). I visited Amsterdam again. I also had a fab time in Den Haag, exploring a city that was completely new to me. I went to Spain. I made it onto Spanish TV (it’s only a glimpse but hey, it counts!). I explored Berlin, another city I’ve never visited before and, like with Den Haag, one I completely fell in love with. I was nominated for the UK Blog Awards *screeeeeams*. I’ve read some amazing books, and I’ve watched some incredible films. I’ve had my heart broken a lil bit, but I’ve also had some of the best times with my friends and family.

What I’ve become in 2018

I like to think that I’ve always been quite a calm, laidback kind of person but this year I’ve become more chilled. I’m trying not to base my moods on other people’s actions – for example, getting annoyed when people leave me on read lol – which used to really affect my mood. I’ve become more content with independence. I think I’ve become more time efficient?! I know now that you don’t have to be revising for every waking minute of the day, and that the key to maximising my time is getting rid of distractions and really focusing for shorter periods of time.

I think I’ve become stronger in terms of my fears. They have much much less control over me than they used to, and I’m so inexpressibly proud of myself for that.

My goals for 2019

  • Change the way I procrastinate – you might look at this and think “whatttt??? She’s encouraging procrastination?!” And yeah, I am in a way. It’d be unrealistic of me to say I want to stop procrastinating because we all know that that is literally never going to happen. Instead, I want to change what I do when I procrastinate. Normally, I’d just flick over social media for hours. In 2019, I want to do something productive but fun and relaxing, such as painting or writing.
  • Run more often – this isn’t going to be a hard resolution to complete, because I only run about once in every 6 months lol. I want to become fitter and I have no excuse not to run – and I bought some Grace Fit resistance bands so even if I don’t want to run, I’ll have something to do at home!
  • Keep up with my bullet journal

Thank you to my family for everything we’ve done this year, all the places we’ve visited and all the fun times. Thank you to E, B, M, G and D for being some of the best friends. I’m excited for our holiday next year (lol if we ever get one booked!!! C’mon guys!) Thanks to S for putting up with my existential dilemmas and constantly giving me life advice. Thank you M for always cheering me up, for providing mathematical memes I don’t have a chance of understanding and for always insulting my choice of subject. Thanks B for a great year and please, let’s do what we said. To A, thanks for being an excellent form buddy. Thank you to Z, A and N as well, for being amazing friends and people. You all constantly crack me up.

None of my friends or family know about my blog but sooner or later they’ll find it. And when they do, I’d like them to realise how much of an impact they’ve all had on my life. I love them and I’m so grateful.

Happy New Year!

Book Gift Guide

If you’re starting to panic about Christmas presents – or, more accurately, lack of – don’t worry! I’ve compiled a few of my personal recommendations for some of the people in your life…

For the amateur detective:

A classic, but definitely worth the read! Every page brings a new turn to the story and the ending is still unexpected. This is the sort of book that you could easily tear through if you had a few (blissful) hours to yourself. And, maybe this is superficial but I still think it’s important 😉, you can get copies with beautiful covers!

For the feminist/dystopian fan:

If you (or someone you know) enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, you’ll love this. The world has been flipped upside down; women discover they have the ultimate power and are able to hurt, even kill, men with a flick of the fingers. A fast-paced, gripping novel, this is sure to go down well as a Christmas present.

For the “I-don’t-read-fiction” friend:

I’m going to be studying English literature and linguistics at uni hopefully, so this was a really interesting read for me. Even if you have no knowledge of linguistics or no plans to study it in future, you’ll enjoy this. Linguistics probably isn’t the first choice of non-fiction for many readers but as language is crucial to everyday life, the topic is intriguing and I guarantee readers will be hooked.

For the young adult:

This is probably in the top 10 books I’ve read in 2018. Being set in a high school makes it all the more appealing; McManus so accurately depicts the different cliques in high schools. It genuinely feels like you could be living in the story. I love how the narration is from different viewpoints as well – you truly get to know the characters (and yet, you also don’t know who to believe!)

For the traveller:

“Us” follows the holiday of a scientist, an artist and their son, an attempt to save their failing family. If you love travel and art, you’ll enjoy this. Several famous galleries and landmarks feature, along with the adventures of each character – for a lighthearted read for anyone, I’d recommend.

For the teenage comedian:

An oldie but a goldie. Need I say more? Everyone loves Adrian Mole and his teenage struggles – a fabuloso Christmas gift, if you ask me 😉

Thanks to my friend for the inspo to write this post 😉 if you buy any of the books I’ve recommended (for yourself or for someone else) let me know what you think!