The beginning of any new year is a time for making resolutions, setting new goals and reflecting on the last twelve months of our existence. Did I lose the 20lbs I said I would? Was I a good person this year (though this is maybe a question we ask ourselves a little earlier than the year’s end, around the time a certain jolly fellow wielding a bag of toys and a naughty or nice list pays us a visit)? Did I actually keep any of my new year’s resolutions and what the heck is “veganuary” and should I be participating? These are all questions we ask ourselves at the start of a new year. It’s also in January we remember our happiest times and this year’s ultimate lows and consider our defining 2018 moments and the things which we’ve learned. 2018 has been one of the best and worst years of my life; it has been a year of great change; with large chapters of my life closing and making way for new, scary and exciting journeys ahead. More than anything, this year has been about a great many lessons learned and that is what I want to talk about in this blog post. **Scarborough Warning: This is probably a post best served with a brew, so grab yourselves a cuppa and make yourselves comfy**
The things I learned in 2018 are as follows….
It’s OK to run from your problems….At least for a little while!
Now, one thing I know is that you can’t out-run your problems forever, but what I did discover this year is that sometimes you can take a little holiday from them. As many of you know, I went on an amazing adventure around South America this summer. This trip unintentionally, yet crucially came just after my distressing summer of failing, then re-sitting veterinary finals and missing out on graduation with my peers which came near to breaking me. This trip was a life-saver, it gave me new perspective, allowed me some much needed time to relax and forget and presented me with an opportunity to begin the healing process after a rough couple of months. I left everything behind me and immersed myself in a new culture, continent and environment which did wonders for my mental health! Out there no one knew me, I could be whoever I wanted to be, I owed no explanation and the only way I was different out here was my unnaturally pasty skin and horrific Spanish accent! It was like life across the ocean was at a standstill, and though I knew there’d be some tough times ahead when I returned, my brief escape from reality was just what I needed to become strong enough to deal with them.
Feeling Horrible Emotions Doesn’t Make You A Horrible Person
It’s OK to feel negative emotions, we need to express them or they do exponentially more damage on the inside. When I failed my veterinary finals I felt some of humanity’s most ugly emotions; I felt angry, jealous, ashamed, spiteful, bitter, vengeful even – and in turn, experiencing these made me feel like a horrible person. But what I had to come to terms with this year is that I ‘m only human and trying to bottle these emotions only makes things simmer and rot away in your mental state like the ultimate poison. What I learned this year is that as a standard run of the mill human, I had to let myself feel these emotions (note I say feel, not act upon! That’s a very different ball game) and not hate myself for doing it. Sometimes you need to complain that life isn’t fair and rant about the undeserving people who seemingly get everything they want with ease. I found you need to feel the emotion and then move on and in the long term that makes you feel a whole lot better. I also learned that it is possible to feel both immense pride and happiness for someone while at the same time feeling a pang of intense jealousy that they have what you want. Learning to normalise these emotions and allowing myself to feel them temporarily without guilt took a lot of pressure off my mental health, I mean heck, we’re humans, we’re not perfect and I’m sure even Gandhi has had a few tantrums in his time!
Adult Life is HARD! But Also Very Satisfying
I spent the first month of my working life as a mixed animal vet practically collapsing through my door at the end of my shift and just about mustering up enough energy to eat and watch a token TV program on Netflix before crashing into a deep unshakable sleep. I feel like I am constantly learning, being tested, making mistakes and striving to improve and it’s exhausting! It’s a terrifying thought to know that now everything I do I am 100% accountable for, gone were the days of studenthood where you are constantly mentored and observed. There is a huge amount of pressure in this career but also so much satisfaction for a job well done and something as simple as a mere thank you from a client can make you feel on top of the world. I also discovered, now I’m living on my own in my cosy little flat that I am very house proud, however, this is no walk in the park either! There seems to be a never-ending pile of laundry and washing up to do and I swear despite there only being me inhabiting my flat, I blink and there’s a mess no sooner as I’ve tidied. It’s really nice to have a space to call and make my own though, I’ve loved shopping for decorations and home-ware to make the place homely, a welcome novelty after moving nearly every year to a new shared house at uni and never really feeling like a place was yours. A regular paycheck every month is another definite plus of being an adult, though the temptation to buy things with said paycheck is much greater now I can convince myself I’m far better off than I was as a student. Still, I have enjoyed purchasing myself a few little treats here and there! The distinct reduction in holidays has also hit me hard; it’s depressing to know that between a two-week family vacation, a few weddings and a hen-do my holiday allowance has been eaten to virtually nothing. On the plus side, if I have no time to take any holiday it may allow me to save a bit of money rather than blowing it all on gallivanting, silver linings hey?
Surround yourself with people who bring out the best you
It’s easy to be the best you when things are going right and you’re happy, but I can tell you from experience, it’s nowhere near as simple when things are going wrong! It’s in times like this where the people you surround yourself with can make an incredible difference to your life and how you feel. As I said before, my life has changed dramatically this year and one of these changes is living away from the uni family unit I came to love and rely on for my five years of study. However, despite not having this immense support network a mere stone’s throw away, when I needed them most, this amazing bunch went above and beyond to look after me. From spending hours on the phone while I laughed, cried and winged, driving 2 hours laden with snacks for a revision session or dragging me out of the house for a well-needed break, they all proved that despite not living together anymore, they would still be there for me at the drop of a hat! These are the people you need to keep in your life, the ones who keep you grounded, pick you up when you’re down but equally kick your ass into gear when you’ve spent too long feeling sorry for yourself, or call you out when you’re being difficult. I feel so fortunate to have friends and family in my life who I can always trust and rely on. I think this year really hit home how lost I’d be without them.
It’s sometimes OK to be selfish and you should ALWAYS be kind to yourself!
From an early age, we are taught to try and be kind and selfless and to put others wants and needs before our own. However, this year I have learned that sometimes you do need to put yourself first, to be kind to yourself and be a little selfish. If you feel like you need to take some time for yourself then take it, if you think in this one case doing something for someone else will cause you upset or too much stress then say no. Your true friends will never hold it against you for needing to take a bit of me-time and those who do don’t deserve to be in your life anyway. We are often our biggest critics, I can say I certainly am! But I learned this year that you have to be your own cheerleader sometimes and tell yourself that you’re fabulous because there’s already enough people out to put you down in the world without you turning into your own biggest bully. Self-love is something I really want to work on this year, it’s so important and I realised this year that I am sometimes way too hard on myself. A little bit of self-positive reinforcement and encouragement can go a very long way!
Life will not be without its setbacks, but if you work hard enough you will overcome them no matter how many there are!
The road to accomplishing my dreams has been incredibly bumpy, I’ve suffered setback after setback, multiple heartaches and I can truly say that becoming a vet is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. At times my tribulations seemed sickeningly unfair and often they were, but I’m slowly becoming at peace with the fact that life isn’t fair and that setbacks will have to be endured and that is just life. You may look at other people and think “God, why do they have it so easy? Why do I always get the raw deal?” But in truth, everyone has their own demons to conquer and you can never truly know how easy or difficult someone’s life is – they may be quietly going through a lot more than you think! But what I have learned, from this journey in particular, is that if you persevere, try not to get caught up on the setbacks and keep your eyes on the prize then you will get there in the end! Through all my battles to become a vet, through all the times I’ve thought off throwing in the towel, now I’m finally there I can wholeheartedly say it was 100% worth it and my journey has shaped and taught me things I would never have come to appreciate if I hadn’t struggled. I’m ready now to tackle some more life goals and I know they aren’t going to be easy, but I now know that I’m ready for the bumpy ride!
I hope this post has given you some food for thought and I have helped some of you by revealing some of these more personal truths. You’ll be glad to know my next few blog posts will be back to their upbeat nature but after my experiences this year I have been made much more aware that sometimes the tougher times need to be talked about too and that often these posts can be much more helpful than reviews on holiday destinations, food favourites or Christmas gift guides!
I would like to add to this post that if anyone is going through or has gone through a tough time and would ever like to talk I am always happy to hear from you and will offer any help and advice I can!