So, here we are. The last day of 2017. The year seems to have passed in a bit of a blur really, but as it’s drawn to a close, I’ve done my fair share of reflecting on the last 12 months (how many times have you read a phrase similar to that recently?).
I’ve just realised that as of tomorrow this will all be old news – that’s why so many people published 2017 reflections days (or weeks) ago isn’t it? No one will want to read me harping on about this year, because we’ll be all about looking forward. My bad. I’m new to this, remember. I’ll know for next year.
Still, as you might have gathered from my inability to write anything in less than a thousand words, I’m quite a reflective person (to a fault), so this is very much one of those posts that I’m writing just for me, and I’ll plough on anyway. In an attempt to give this a semblance of structure I’ve broken it down into sections, and if you’re grabbing some leftover Christmas chocolate and sticking with me, I really hope it’s not too boring and self-indulgent.
Lifestyle and health
It’s fair to say that on the face of it I had quite a major lifestyle change, having switched to a vegan lifestyle after taking part in Veganuary at the start of the year. I’ve learnt so much from this – not least that there are an alarming number of people who have no idea where their food comes from – and it’s something I’ll be taking into 2018 for as long as it continues to work for me. I also went cruelty free, something I’ll never go back on now…it never fails to amaze me that animal testing continues to happen at this point in time.
I ran my fastest ever 10k this year and made real progress towards being able to do a pull up (then real unprogress). I lost weight. I put on weight. I hated my body, and I was proud of it. My skin went to shit, which was highly annoying as for the first four months or so of being vegan it was the best it had ever been, but I’m putting it’s regression to teenager down to stress in the latter half of the year.
2017 was also the year I really thought about mental health as something to consider in a way that was more general than just ‘mental illness or mental wellness’. At many points during the last few months of this year I got close to burnout multiple times, felt constantly stressed and didn’t feel particularly mentally healthy at all, but a week off blogging, less time at work and some slower days for this last week between Christmas and new year have helped make me feel better than I have in a while, and I’m going into 2018 determined to take better care of myself in that sense.
Last year was a real year of travel for me – I spent over 6 months of it out of the country all in all – so 2017 wasn’t going to be able to top that. Still, I got a good number of trips in, and enjoyed them all, so I certainly can’t complain. There were city breaks to Marseille, Budapest and Gdansk, an actual holiday holiday to Rhodes for my first experience of Greece, and a two weeks backpacking in Finland, Sweden and Norway which was seriously wonderful and involved a lot of trains. I neglected to do much UK travel, aside from a trip to Bath with some girlfriends, and that’s something I want to change for next year.
I’m ashamed to admit just how shoddy I was at replying to friends and family’s messages this year (no matter how much I love them!). It’s far more to do with my hatred of my phone than anything else, but I know that I’d be so upset to lose touch with certain people or if they thought I didn’t care, so that’s something I’ll be looking to improve next year (probably at Instagram’s expense, soz). I don’t want to be too specific about other people’s lives here, so for now I’ll just say that I have some truly strong, funny, clever and kind people in my life who have overcome adversities this year in ways that have really inspired me. They make my every problem less difficult and my every happiness more joyful – they also laugh at me when I’m being stupid, which is helpful.
And, of course, I’ve got Rob – he definitely counts as part of the previous sentence but he gets a special mention for taking my sudden demands that he takes lots of photos of me standing awkwardly in the street in his stride. We also started living together this year – first with a friend of his in January, then on our own in August when we moved into this flat, and I can’t imagine it any other way now.
Work this year has been a bit of a strange one – completely mad at times and completely non-mad at others. June and July were crazy months for me, but frustratingly the project all of that work was for never came off, and the last few months of the year were busy and stressful too. I completed a leadership and management course at work in the latter half of the year, which was really interesting, and if nothing else definitely caused me to have a good think about what kind of person I want to be (and, crucially, don’t want to be) in the workplace.
After years of putting it off, I finally took the plunge and started Sophar So Good in April, and from that moment on it came to almost define my year. Blogging has turned into my most time consuming hobby ever (man oh man I did not think that aspect of it through) and, rather embarrassingly, my biggest obsession.
It has brought me so much; I’ve finally exercised my writing muscles again, I’ve found an appreciation for photography I never had before, and I’ve met/internet-met some really wonderful people. I’ve attended blogging events in Norwich, jumped on a train to Leeds by myself to go to the Bloggers Blog Awards, and discovered new brands. I produced my very first sponsored blog post (which – cheeky plug – you can read here), something I never thought would be on the cards for this year; I was so pleased I waited for something to come along that I really felt excited to share, because Thomas Sabo were a dream to work with. Most importantly of all I’ve had an absolute blast, and this is a massive part of my life now.
On a personal level, I felt like 2017 was a year of growth for me – just as 2016 and 2015 were. This mid-twenties lark has involved a lot of change and realisation, and the best bit is it’s all for the better. I recognised and started to address my perfectionism, my sensitivity, and my relationship with my body. I got to know myself better than I ever have before and I came to understand a little more about what motivates me, what I enjoy and what I really don’t. I realised that actually, I act like a bit of a dick at times, both to myself and to other people, and I need to be more compassionate. These are all things I can use to keep growing into next year and beyond – the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself, and all that.
So thank you, 2017, and thank you, anyone who visits this weird little internet baby of mine, for giving me a pretty great year. It has meant a huge amount to me that anyone has read anything I’ve written, and I really hope you stick around for what’s to come. Let me know how 2017 was for you in the comments – and here’s to the next one!
Photography: Rob Poor