Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2013. Life was but a dream.

13, such an unlucky number and yet 2013 delivered me one of the best years I have ever had. Quite a statement from somebody that had to leave NYC to come back to England, face unemployment until I found a new role and deal with a less than 24 hours lifestyle after a year of no sleep and lots and lots of crazy times. I’ll be sorry to see the back of 2013 but alas I must say goodbye.

2013, for me, was the product of my life in 2012 and what a fabulous end-result that was. The year prior, despite an unbelievable opportunity that should have left me reeling that 2012 was the best year of my life, was tumultuous to say the least. It was a year of the unknown, the unexpected, the unusual, the unsavoury, the unmissable, the unlucky, the unhappy and the unforgettable. It was a rollercoaster of situations and emotions that left me both euphoric and devastated, whilst painfully lonely. I reference one early start at my desk. I was in so early that the PATH train still stopped at Hoboken before heading to midtown. Sending frantic texts to my parents for them to call me. It was 6am and I was sobbing down the phone to them, making outlandish statements like ‘This isn’t for me…I think I need to come home…It’s not what I thought it would be…I feel so alone…I have no friends…I don’t trust anyone…I’m not being me…’ The last statement was true. I wasn’t being me, this wasn’t me. But I couldn’t tell you where I’d gone either. I couldn’t find her. Where was she?

Truth was, I still don’t know what the deal was. Maybe it was the speedy move to NYC, I did so in 10 days from being placed in my job and getting my visa. Perhaps I hadn’t mentally prepared myself? Perhaps it was the lack of sleep because of the demands from my job that no one else on my program seemed to have? Perhaps it was the quick recession into what felt like a return to University? Great at 19…not so cool at 27. Perhaps it was the shady behaviour of certain characters I met along the way?

There are many lines of thought that fall hand in hand with my bizarre behaviour that have been considered, debated and defined but quite frankly I’ll probably never really know. And then six months in to my year in New York, and eight months in to 2012, as if it were the climax of all my troubles, my nan passed away and I hit breaking point.

Time spent back in the UK, for the funeral, with friends that had known me for years and close family meant that upon my return to NY I felt refreshed. Was I still upset? Yes. Did I still face numerous shortcomings? Yes. But somehow I was better equipped to deal with all of them. I tried the whole ‘fake it until you make it routine.’ NY friends said I seemed different, I was happier, more excited, less stressed. I know that I wasn’t really any of those things. I still went through periods of deep loneliness, uncertainty and fear but I carried on bouncing and exclaiming terms like ‘boom’ and ‘yolo’ and ‘whatevs’ to disguise them.

As I bounded into 2013, I prepped myself to start living my life to the maximum in the first three months of the year, and my last three in NYC. Molo and I convened over cocktails at The Wayland in alphabet city that first Friday of January 2013 and declared that we were strong, powerful and motivated to be ourselves, do our own thing and ensure that every moment was filled with all the eccentric personality that NYC had to offer.

I was standing up for myself in a way I’d never done before. I wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything. I pushed my way into situations I wanted to be a part of simply because I wanted to be a part of them. I was ballsy (a statement I throw around a lot and is ridiculed by family often). I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do. I was selfish. I was honest. I was present.
But come end of March this feisty version of myself didn’t depart as I did NYC. Perhaps my change of attitude had forced the breakage of a bad habit? Perhaps I’d learnt the meaning of life (although I couldn’t tell you what it was)?

Whatever the reason, I came to learn very quickly that I wasn’t the same person I was prior to New York and I definitely wasn’t the same person I was in 2012. Friends noticed too which was the best compliment I could ever receive from anybody this year. Not because they were unhappy with the person I was before, she is of course still there in lots of shades of my personality, but because she is simply happy all of the time and if she isn’t then she’ll sure as hell not stay that way for very long.

So why has 2013 been so epically fantastic?

Because subconsciously I carried all the lessons I didn’t realise I was learning in 2012, into 2013, and made my life better than I could have ever imagined, especially post-NYC.

I’ve learnt to trust my ambitions and instincts beyond those that influence my life. Sometimes the people you love and look up to are not always right, sometimes only you know what is right for you and who you are right now. From learning to say no, I’ve landed the perfect job for my aspirations and for everything I learnt in my role in NYC. For once I stuck to my guns and thank god I did.

I’ve made new friends, re-connected with old and developed my NY friendships.

I’ve taken that hunger for new and interesting things to do in New York, back with me to London. Now my weekends are never dull and I could never be accused of being stuck in a rut.

I’m my own person in every sense of the phrase and although I might not dress exactly how I used to (yes mum I know you hate that army shirt), I’m going to do it anyway because this is who I am right now and I’m going to embrace that because I’m young, so young, and I shouldn’t ever forget that no matter how many of my friends now have families.

On that note I’ve learnt to appreciate my path. I’m not on the same journey as you. Constant engagement and pregnancy announcements on my newsfeed don’t fill me with envy and sadness as they did pre-2013. It’s exciting for you and I hope someday for me too. But right now I am enjoying never-ending cocktail sessions, speakeasies, dinners, independence, partying, money and all the lack of responsibility that comes with being just me. One day, again I hope, it won’t be just me and I won’t be as free as I am right now and I never want to look back and think of all the times I could have been leading this crazy, interesting life, but instead I was dwelling over co-dependency and pro-creating. If I had got all of those things when my friends did I would never have gone to New York and that, quite frankly, is one scary concept.

I am moving outside of my comfort zones more so than I ever have. This year I signed up to my first marathon, taking place in 2014, which if you know me is laughable in itself. I hate exercise, I hate the gym and I am a terrible runner.  But I’m doing it, abroad, on my own and whilst attempting to achieve a 3hr 35min running time so that I can qualify for the Boston marathon the following year.

And to top 2013 off I am committing to something, which I only recently discovered I have struggled to do these past few years. I am currently in the most hellish house buying experience and it couldn’t be more exhilarating. If it doesn’t work out in 2014 then what an amazing learning curve and that’s the only attitude I can take with this absolute nightmare of surveyors, solicitors, estate agents and vendors.

Because that’s what this whole year has been about, attitude. Have it, change it, force it, whatever it takes. It’s you that has the power, I just had to realise that first.

So whilst there were moments of 2012 I despised and disappointment that I couldn’t have been more carefree in my year in NYC, I have to thank it and appreciate it with all my heart. Because 2013 wouldn’t have been anything without 2012.  They came as a package and whilst it would be nice to not have a 2012 rear it’s ugly head in future I couldn’t stay mad at it for long because I’ll always know that a 2013 will be right around the corner.

I don’t believe in resolutions but I do believe in a statement that you want to carry forward into the new year. An affirmation, a motto, a self-fulfilling prophecy. In 2012 it was ‘Work hard. Play hard. Love hard.’ In 2013 it was ‘In pursuit of magic. And more sleep’ and so after careful consideration I bring you my future…

2014. Focused. Fearless. Fortunate.

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