What a year.
Globally, politically, awful. Personally, incredible. I think the latter helped me stay relatively sane through the former.
This was the year that I finally moved to London, the city I’ve considered to be the best in the world for as long as I can remember. Since I arrived in February, it’s been a constant, crazy whirlwind as I’ve thrown myself into everything I can and taken advantage of finally, FINALLY having enough to keep my relentless mind entertained.
I’ve volunteered at a gaming exhibition at the Science Museum. I’ve climbed the O2. I’ve tried swing dancing, trapeze, fencing, and bouldering. I started dancing again. I found a style of yoga I could fall in love with. I’ve been to silent discos at the top of the Shard and in the shadow of a dinosaur in one of the most beautiful buildings in London. I’ve eaten a lot of pizza. I’ve drunk a lot of craft beer. I’ve seen some amazing gigs in some tiny venues, and I’ve seen a Shakespeare play at the Globe. I’ve wandered for countless hours through museums and galleries. I’ve spent a lot of time with some of my best friends, and met some wonderful new ones.
It’s also been a year of personal growth. Thanks to courses run by Amy Clover and Jessi Kneeland, two of the most inspirational women I’ve ever come across, I’m finishing 2016 in better emotional and mental state than ever. It’s been hard work at times, and tackling your demons (whatever they are) is always more scary than avoiding them, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I never thought that me and my brain would be friends but we’re definitely getting there.
2016 was the year I tried to be a vegetarian. And I really tried! I’ve learnt some amazing vegan recipes that I intend to keep eating forever (Thug Kitchen is amazing), but it turns out my body isn’t really one for vegetarianism. I got sick of being exhausted all the time, of cuts that wouldn’t heal, of bad skin and weight gain – and after supplements and careful diet planning still didn’t improve the deficiencies showing up in blood tests, I admitted defeat. I still limit meat, and generally to organic meat from local farms, but even that small amount has made an incredible difference. It’s given me a new appreciation for how finely tuned the human body is!
I’m still single, but dating in London is definitely more fun than in smaller towns. I’ve been to some very cool bars and restaurants, and met some brilliant people. It’s still easy to feel lonely, especially on a quiet Sunday when it would be nicer to go for a roast dinner with someone than to spend it alone, but overall, it’s easier to feel positive about it up here.
Thanks to world events, I’ve also tried to be more informed and involved this year. I always have been to some extent, but this year has felt, to so many of us, like a year that’s changing everything. After waking up to Brexit, I joined a political party, started paying for news, sought out varying opinions and tried to put more of my opinions into words. Trump’s election in America has made me worried for lots of reasons, not least the potential impact on women and minorities. The global shift to the right is terrifying to me. But all these things just strengthen the resolve to stand up to all the fear and hatred with all the hope and love and light we can find.
Moving further from friends and family has also helped me to truly appreciate them, and I’ve been so lucky this year to have hilarious weekends staying back with my family and amazing holidays with fantastic people to climb mountains or explore new cities, to see one of my closest friends marry her soulmate and to become a godmother to the most gorgeous little boy. My nieces remain the two most brilliant people on the planet, even if one has taken to calling me a poo poo head. My London friends have welcomed me into their cool London lives with open arms, and my non-London friends never seem far away. I’m ridiculously grateful to have all of them.
I can’t begin to imagine what next year will hold. Hopefully, not such an exodus of great people; the music world can’t cope. Hopefully, some more reasoned debate politically, around the world (I won’t hold my breath). Hopefully, at least, a settling down to deal with everything this year has thrown at us, and over here, to come back together as a country and look at building the best future-Britain that we can.
For me personally, this is the first year I haven’t made big new-year plans to turn my life upside down in ages. Things have gone pretty well this year, so I’ll be following the same pattern. More growth, more doing things that bring me joy, more gratitude for what I have, more learning, more getting involved with causes I care about, and more taking chances as they come. It’s a good plan 🙂