2016 will be better, I swear

Monday, 4 January 2016

It was another typical New Year's Day of waking up with a stinging hangover and a familiar sense of dread. We've all been there, right? Stuck in that mystical fog that extends much further than the initial 'I don't know what I did last night'. In addition, you kind of wonder what exactly you are doing with your life; where you have been, emotionally and physically, and just exactly where you are going. On New Year's Eve I had a good ol' classic cry about not having done much with my life at all, while another poor human soul - who, really, was just trying to have a good party - had to resign themselves to squeezing my hand and reminding me of all the little things I have achieved over the past year alone. Sometimes in all these black holes of self-doubt that are definitely not helped by the darker mornings and evenings, I forget all of these milestones. I became more assertive in my working life and my personal life. I moved halfway across the country and saved a ton of money in the process. I nurtured a long-distance relationship into everyday happiness to be shared with somebody else. I travelled solo on the other side of the world, booking flights and hostels with a days' notice. I lost weight and felt more settled within my own skin. I tried to be better to myself, inside and out, and it began to pay off.

The turn of the year always makes you stop and think, though. It causes you to yearn and plan and strive for more. It gets you reflecting on how far you've come in just 365 short days, and how different you'll be this time next year. Resolutions, I feel, are a world totally lost on me. It's not that I can't hit them goals, but more like I'm setting myself up for failure every time I say I will do this or that or the other. Maybe I spend so much time in my working life being organised and hitting targets earlier than I ever need to, that I'm kind of burnt out when it comes down to the personal side of life. This year, it's all about finding the long-term balance. I'm getting too old to still be waking up and not knowing about what I want to be when I grow up. So, rather than resolutions, instead I've just made a list of things that I would adore to be able to stand tall on December 31st and say, "Yes, I did that." With not a tear in sight.

01. Read more books. Probably the top of my list all year, every year. Last year I managed to read more books that I've read since I was a teenager, definitely aided by being a solo traveller. I've plunged back into the loving arms of my Kindle and rediscovered a love for getting lost in a literal world. Not only is it a great way to clear the mind but I also find reading hella inspirational. If I could read 30 books this year, I think I'd be a very happy bunny indeed.

02. Write more fiction. Procrastination is my enemy number one. The truth is, I feel like I've had the skeleton of a story trapped in the cage of my brain for the best part of a decade now. When I had a lot of free time in Asia this winter, I started attending to this and before I could even make sense of anything, it was as if a novella was pouring out of my fingertips to be burned onto the memory of my laptop. While I wiled away hours tip-tap-typing, I felt like I was birthing an entirely new tale. I wish I would have taken part in NaNoWriMo last year in order to get this new-found lust well on the road to success, but this is all about looking forward. I can't begin to measure how successful I would like to be by the end of the year, but I'll leave it at that I would have like to at least finished one story and started the next one.

03. Reconnect with the remainder of my creative side. Just before Christmas I fixed the beloved acoustic guitar of mine that had laid dormant, dusty and somewhat broken for about three years. It was the best thing I had done in ages; as soon as I had it working again I played it until my fingertips bled and my heart sang. I want to get good again - as in, I don't want to immediately feel my cheeks go hot and red whenever anybody inquires about my musical talents. This goes for everything: I'm shy about my photography, but I'm not half bad and I bloody love doing it. I adore cooking and baking but rarely take my cakes to anybody else for fear of ridicule. Practice won't make perfect for me but practice will certainly make me proud.

04. Get back to my previous full fitness. Almost a laughing matter. In short, back in 2011 I was without a doubt the fittest I have ever been. I wasn't in any way professional and also not in any way obsessed with being skinny, but I undertook exercise for the sake of pure enjoyment. I hauled myself to the gym 3 times a week, attended pilates classes, cycled to work and ran. Boy, I ran for days. If I remember correctly, I completed two 10k races, two half marathons and a plethora of 5k Parkruns across the south-east. I felt so strong and then suddenly, I just stopped. It's an easy cop-out to blame personal circumstances but that's what it boiled down to: moving house, gaining a promotion, losing a relationship and running pretty much straight into another. Since then, I've never quite got back on the wagon but this year it's all about to change. I guess there are a few sub-clauses to this and they are as follows:
A. I'm rejoining a gym. This is the key that unlocks the crystal ball, in my mind. For one, I absolutely hate paying for things that I am not getting maximum use out of. I also adore the challenge. The gym I'm eyeing up is about a 10 minute bike ride from my house and is pretty cheap too. Throw in the fact that a few of my friends go there already and my boyfriend Phil is up for joining at the same time as me tells me that this is nothing but a good idea indeed.
B. I'm doing a triathlon in July. Don't laugh. For starters, it's kind of like a mini triathlon - a "sprint" tri, at professionals would say. The distances are a 750m swim (about 30 lengths), a 20k bike ride and a 5k run. The good thing is that these are all distances I can already do, albeit not as comfortably anymore, the mission will be stringing them all together and getting better at them. The swim will be open water too so that will be an entirely new thing for me. However, the upside is that the tri will be in the Lake District in the middle of summer so it'll be beautiful or warm or hopefully a mixture of the two.

05. Be generally nicer to myself. Physically and emotionally. I'm my own worst enemy; but aren't we all? I guess this comes full circle to not being proud of my achievements when I bloody well should be. I'm such a classical do-gooder as well, always wanting to make a song and dance for other people while totally neglecting myself. 2016 is about looking after myself a whole lot more and while I want to feel better on the outside, I believe that this is only possibly is you ultimately look after yourself from the inside. Being healthy, getting into a good routine, sleeping the proper amount of sleep every night... that's just the beginning of it. I'm trying to have a really well-behaved month of clean eating and no drinking or other naughty things, and mentally getting into a good mindset, ready for the year ahead. Yes, plans will be broken because this is just a fact of life, but there's no point beating myself up about it. Isn't that just a waste of time? I'll always be looking forward from now on.

06. DOCUMENT THIS ENTIRE YEAR. I'm the worst half-arsed blogger you've ever met. In fact, I feel like even titling myself as a 'blogger' sets me up for a downfall from the get go. Give me a topic, I've been there, I've tried it all. I even thought it would be a good idea to begin travel blogging at the end of last year as a means of documentation but more for the greedy sense of 'perhaps I can make a bit of money off the back of this'. I managed it for a few weeks before I realised it felt oh-so wrong and very un-me. The truth is, I don't need an audience. I'm happy collecting snippets of shiny days and keeping them all to my very self. And because of this I rarely Facebook anymore, I Instagram whatever the hell I want but a whole lot less, and I turned my Twitter to friends-only which is probably the greatest thing I've ever done as now I can warble as much tripe as I like without fear of unwanted beady eyes. Seeing my friends write about the things that they are passionate about, like real-life pals Gracie and Mel, gives me so much gusto, and following the across-the-pond YouTube adventures of my besties Bee & Nick gets me wanting to throw videos into my repertoire. I might want to shoot a few clips of my amazing day hiking, or a few photos of some surprise vegan snacks I found, or I might just want to babble about general thoughts and feelings. Basically, if I like it and if it makes me happy - and probably if it doesn't make me happy too - this year, I'm going to channel it into this little space of the world wide web. Because what wouldn't be a greater feeling than having all of this to look back on in the future and thinking, "Wow. 2016 really was my year."

The top image is from weheartit.com; the lyric in the image is from the Death Cab For Cutie song "The New Year" and aren't those words just so apt?