I’ve been incredibly lucky this year. New Year is typically a time to look back over the year that has passed, but frequently I’ve been in a position this year to look back and think, two weeks ago I was doing something completely different.
Basically this is me bragging on the internet about the best things I’ve done this year. But isn’t that what the internet is for?
Got promoted (technically)
At the start of the year I was working for a small coffee shop, during which time I learnt a lot. In January my manager left and I was given the position of supervisor which involved a couple of extra responsibilities. They weren’t difficult things – counting stock is common sense – but they were new to me. Plus, I got paid a little extra and it was nice that I was chosen.
Visited four new countries
A few months after this, I got given the opportunity to go to Spain and au pair for a family. At the time, it seemed like a great idea and although I ended up disliking the au pair part of it, travelling was an amazing experience. I stayed in Madrid for two months where I …
Started learning a new language.
I’d forgotten how much I liked languages. Learning Spanish was easier than I thought it might be, especially when surrounded by it. Constant reinforcement. I work with a Spanish guy now and he’s helping me continue practising.
Met people from around the world.
From Spain I went to Belgium. There I worked in a hostel and met travellers from around the world. They were some of the most amazing people I have ever met and I hope to see them again someday, maybe visiting them in their own countries or perhaps we’ll go travelling together. Maybe I’ll never see them again, but I know my life is richer for having met them. It’s not always about where you go, but sometimes who you go with.
Worked backstage at London Fashion Week
On a completely unrelated note, I had two big fashion experiences this year. The first came from a random text whilst I was in Belgium. “Are you available to work at Autumn Fair in September?” I wanted to be home for my Mum’s birthday so I knew I’d be in England. The timing worked out perfectly and I worked on the fashion at Autumn Fair in Birmingham, then a week later an interview for a simple dressers role turned into a studio assistant thing for Kristian Aadnevik. They were completely different ends of the fashion industry but I enjoyed both and got some more experience to put on my CV.
Had my eyes opened to a completely different culture.
In October I went to Romania, somewhere I’d been really excited about going to and somewhere that I still feel conflicted about. I’m glad I went, but when people ask me about it, the best thing I can say is that it showed me a different way of life. The East is so different from the West and so different from anywhere I’d been before. I met a few interesting people there, but in general the atmosphere was so alien that I didn’t really enjoy and ended up leaving early (via Vienna which was beautiful).
Finding a new job.
Coming back to England I had almost no money. In fact, my bank balance has been in single digits several times. But after two weeks going back and forth between London and my parent’s house I was picked up by a temp agency and have worked consistently since. It meant living in hostels again for a couple of months but I really liked the place I got sent to most often and have some really great colleagues. Once again, it’s not the place, but the people that make it.
I can confidently say 2016 has been the best year of my life so far, every couple of months bringing something totally new and exciting. How the hell I’m going to top that next year, I don’t know. But I appreciate how lucky I’ve been and I want to encourage everyone who gets an opportunity like I did, to take it. In January I shortened a trip to France because I wasn’t ready to give up the comfortable job and flat. A few months later I gave everything up, still worried about it but ultimately it was the best decision I could have made. Many times, as I worried about mundane but crucial things like money and having a place to live, I thought I’d been stupid and wished I’d stayed at work. But if I had, I would never have done any of incredible things I’ve done and they are worth the worry. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family too, always just a phone call away. I’m not American, and thanksgiving is long gone but I’m so thankful to them, and so grateful for everything I’ve received this year.