Last year, I decided to stay in for the night.
Instead of starting my 2017 with a hangover, I wanted to use the evening to look back over 2016, take stock of where I was in life - brace yourselves, I am one step away from talking about My Journey - and to set my intentions for the coming year.
Because I am a super fun, cool person, I made lists of everything I had achieved in 2016, topics that I needed to work on, and goals I wanted to accomplish in the following year.
I divided them into two categories -HOW am I still single? It’s a mystery - both personal and professional, and when I finished, it was upsetting to see how imbalanced the two columns were.
I was able to write pages and pages about things that had happened in a professional capacity that I was proud of but I could barely manage two sentences about anything positive that I had achieved in a personal sense. But when it came to writing about Things to Improve?
It was glaringly obvious that in order for 2017 to be a happy and fulfilling one, I had a lot of work to do.
I decided to make ‘Healing’ my word for the year. Healing was to be my overall ambition, whatever guise that might come in.
In some ways, 2017 was the most difficult year I’ve had in some time. I worked constantly in order to finish two novels; I suffered a six month bout of insomnia, and I felt as if I was always a knife-edge away from teetering head first into burnout.
I felt anxious for much of this year. Not only did I feel anxious about the state of the world, both politically and environmentally, but I worried about the quality of my work, the value of what I was trying to contribute through my writing, and my ability to enact the sort of change that I felt was necessary in order to be happy. And yet, still, there was healing in all of it. Instead of denying my anxiety or seeing it as a weakness that had to be suppressed, I accepted it and tried to learn from it as best I could.
I recognised that I was sensitive, that I was vulnerable, that I had needs and it was okay to ask for them to be met, rather than always attempting to be fiercely independent and acting like I Was Fine All The Time.
I had to let go of people who wouldn’t or couldn’t give me enough space to be the person that I really am rather than the person they wanted me to be. I cut out certain habits that had been debilitating, ways of behaviour that were so deeply engrained that I felt like I was re-wiring my entire brain in order to bring them to an end.
I thought I would feel energised by releasing things from my life that were knee-capping me but I was constantly exhausted.
Even so - I kept reaching for that one word.
I kept focusing and re-focusing again on the things that I could control. My work. My health. My recovery. My heart, my heart, my heart.
And it worked. There are only a couple of days left in 2017, and even though I feel as if I’ve aged twelve years in the last twelve months, I am also the healthiest and strongest that I have been since I was perhaps 14 years of age.
“You are coming back to us,” my mother told me recently, “It feels like we have the real Louise again. We missed her.”
Of course there’s still work to done. There always is, and there always will be.
That’s what life is - learning and improving and trying to do your best, even if our best can vary wildly from day to day.
I’m not perfect, no matter how much I wish I was.
I know that I need to stop trying to please everyone else; I need to quit looking for approval from people who will never give it to me.
I want to be more patient and less critical, with others but also myself. I have to remember that it’s okay when others don’t like me.
They’re wrong,, and have terrible taste in people, but they’re also entitled to their (wrong, terrible!) opinions.
I want to sleep more, and I want to take more breaks.
I would like to travel this year but to go exploring by myself, rather than only getting on an airplane when it’s work-related.
I want to have more fun. But my word for 2018?
The one that I’m going to try to keep coming back to, no matter what else is happening around me? That word is peace.
And I wish peace for you too; for you and your family and your friends. Have a happy and peaceful New Year.
I’m late with this, but I went to see Paddington 2 with my father this week and it is one of the most gorgeous, poignant, life-affirming movies that I’ve seen in such a long time. If you haven’t seen it yet — GO. It doesn’t matter whatage you are, this movie will charm the pants off you.
The Yellow Haired Girl on Instagram. This is one of my favourite Insta accounts; it’s both hilarious and frighteningly relatable. (I shouldn’t admit how relatable...)