When I think about 2016 I just can't believe it - any of it, It's been so incredible in so many ways, both incredibly good and incredibly challenging. But I'm ending the year in Canada with some of my favourite people, and somehow the challenges of this year don't seem so bad - they make me realise that I'm so well prepared for what's to come next year.
I hate to start with one of the challenges but it feels most relevant to this space - and I'm sad that 2016 has been the year that I've found blogging harder than ever. I've always used this space to just be completely myself, hold nothing back and be honest whether it came out in an ugly mess or something completely uplifting. I didn't tell anyone I knew in real life about it for ages because I hated the idea of picturing someone I knew reading here. As time went on and family and friends figured it out, I found I was able to almost shut out the idea that people knew what I was writing and while it did make me censor myself, it wasn't very much.
This year however, I've blended my blog with my portfolio and I've started to work with more clients - which is probably the most exciting thing ever! But pouring your heart out when potential clients are watching? Or knowing that you have to work with someone who knows so much about your personal life? That's hard. It makes you feel very exposed and I know that some bloggers do it and do it so well! But the more freelance work I take on, the more guarded and professional I feel I need to be - and terrible writers block takes over. I would love to get over this and just own both sides of my life, blend personal and professional and just let it all be me for everyone to see - but it's hard.
It's a challenge for next year that I'm determined to take on, because I miss this space and sharing my life and adventures here.
But on the bring side I have got to work with some AMAZING people this year, both in the charity world and some beautiful brands. And none of these things have fallen in my lap, I've gone out and hand-picked each and every job I've done and chosen only what I knew I would love. Believe me, I've had a lot of rejection too, but the ones that worked out have been some of the best things I've ever done - for work but also in life. There's a lot to be said for not waiting for things to happen to you and instead going after what you want with as much enthusiasm as you can manage.
It's meant a lot of hard work, a lot of self doubt, a lot of putting myself up for rejection and being ignored, a lot of failure, and a lot of restless, anxiety-filled nights. But I've also learned this year what it means to feel good enough, by my own standards. I've felt, probably for the first time in my life, genuinely proud of myself and what I'm doing. And of course I'm terrified that it could all disappear in an instant, but I've also become so good at ignoring that fear.
2016 has also been the year of good friends. If you've been reading here for a while you may remember that I went through a really rough time a few years back. There's nothing like trauma to sort out who can really manage to be there for you in life, and who can't. And I don't blame some old friends for not sticking around, that kind of grief felt like a plague that everyone needed to avoid - but some didn't, they just jumped right in and stuck with me until I got through it. And when I came out the other side I found I had the most glorious group of people around me who taught me what friendship was really all about.
These days I have friends who encourage me and who I can chat to about work for hours as well as talk rubbish with and laugh until we collapse. I've learned the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded people and there's no limit on the value of a community who can laugh with you, dream with you, and cheer for you every step of the way. I would go to the ends of the earth for them, and I know they would do the same.
And I have a good feeling that that community will be expanding in 2017.
And the rest of this year has been a lot of constant travel and a lot of hanging around waiting for things to begin. 2016 has been full of stops and starts, full of inconsistencies, full of gaining and losing.
But ultimately this year has been about finding out what I'm capable of through trial and error. It's been imperfect and messy, a constant ebb and flow of winning a lot and losing in equal measure. Each step has felt like a progression though and I'm so happy with the direction my life is taking - even though half the time I feel like I'm steering the ship and the rest I feel like I'm tripping over myself just trying to stay on my feet. But I kind of feel like if you're not falling flat on your face sometimes, you're not being brave with your life...
Next year is going to be absolutely insane, wonderful, challenging and one hell of a ride. I can't wait.