I thought it was appropriate as we’re ending the year to focus on what I am grateful for this year. It has been the hardest year of my life, but I’ve made it, and I want to take a moment for us all to pause and think about that – we made it. You made it. You survived another year, and if it was good then that’s awesome and you have a brilliant foundation for another great one next year; and if it was awful then you can soon leave it all behind – and hey, at least it can only get better next year, right…?!
Even if your year was appalling, there will be something that is worth celebrating or being thankful. Even if that’s simply that you met a great new friend, or you got a beautiful photo that one day, or your birthday party was good. It can be as big or as small as you want.
The first thing I am thankful for, is my wonderful family. They love me no matter how I look, who I love, how outspoken I am on my opinions, how stubborn I am or how much I accidentally swear in front of them. My closest uncles and aunties are always there for me in hard times and it means so, so much. My dad is kind and genuine and has taught me so much about the world and myself, all of which I needed more than ever this year.
But I really must focus on my mum. She is beautiful and intelligent and the kindest person I have ever met. Everyone loves her and, as my best friend said, “how could anyone not?!”. She is my idol and my best friend, and this year has had to deal with me going through some really hard times including A-Levels, a huge break-up, me finishing my therapy and coming off meds, and my leaving for university. But no matter what she is always there for me. She offers advice, but only if you ask, and she respects my decisions and will always back me up, even if I’m wrong. She’s helped me so much and been the most supportive person in the world; she will always listen even if it’s 11pm and she’s exhausted, she’ll stay up ’til 2am and console me then somehow find the strength to get up at 6am to work. I would not have the strength I have today, or be the person I am, without her.
I am also incredibly thankful for my best friend, Katie. It’s been three years we’ve been this close and have been through so much together – each of us has dealt with difficult things and we’re always there for each other. She’s listened to be go on and on about the same things and cry for hours, and she’ll just listen and comfort me and she always manages to say the right things. She’s supportive of my choices but will damn well call me out if I’m being an idiot, and she’ll tell me just what she thinks and be honest which I cannot respect enough and I always need. When I’m feeling more hopeless than ever she’ll pop up and make me smile, and I can say I literally would not be here writing this now without her just being her.
Thirdly I am thankful for my university place. Three years ago I was going to take French, Media Studies, Music and English at college. I then suddenly switched from French to Film Studies and it was the best decision I ever made. I found my passion; my calling, and it led to this amazing adventure. My university is the only one I selected to go to and the course seemed perfect from the get-go, but I never imagined just how perfect it would be. Every day I wake up excited to go to uni, and every day I learn an abundance of new things and my mind is opened to a world of beauty, knowledge and possibility. University also provided a much needed escape from my life at home – and it’s associations – when I needed it most, and it allowed me to mature, further find my place in the world, and begin to heal from the bad past months. I am unbelievably excited for my next term, and the next three years of life. University has made me excited for my future. And grateful that I have one.
Which leads me to my recovery. I am extremely, remarkably, strangely feeling… okay. Sometimes. But that’s something. Now sometimes I feel okay, or even happy, when I had forgotten what it felt like to be happy. I didn’t think I could ever be happy again. And sometimes, I still think I’ve lost that ability to be happy – but I know now that I can be, and more so that I deserve to be happy. I am two years clean from self-harm, and off medication and out of therapy for months now. And I have been through the hardest thing in my life, and not broken. Yes, I came close, but I reached out for help and I didn’t. I made it through a year I didn’t think I’d see. When I was thirteen I said to myself ‘I’m never going to reach eighteen’, but this year I did, and I not only reached it but I celebrated it. And despite the awful things I’ve been put through this year, I am still excited for my future. My future; it is mine and I am going to live it by myself, for myself.
Finally, I am thankful for this blog. And for you – whoever you are – reading it. I am thankful you found this space that I pour my heart and head into. It has given me an outlet to express myself, and to work through some of my more complex thoughts and opinions. It has helped to share my morals and musings with the world, and anyone who is even slightly interested. I love writing for it (secret: the feminist posts are my favourites!) and if a post can impact even one person, if it can make even one individual go ‘hm, never thought about that’ or ‘oh yeah, she’s right actually’ then I consider it a success.
Sadly I know many people who will be sad they have reached the checkpoint for another year in their life. I know people who, like I was – and still am at times, will be disappointed they have to deal with another year. But please, try to think about next year as an opportunity. I know how hard that can be, I truly do, but next year you could study that new subject, or learn to drive, or begin watching a new TV series, or visit somewhere you’ve never been… next year is full of possibilities and every year I think ‘next year will be my year’, and yes, I’m still waiting, but maybe – just maybe – next year will be my year.