2020 is almost upon us. Like many I will be glad to see the back of 2019. Every year is full of ups and downs, but 2019 appeared to be constantly pointing me down on this rollercoaster we call life. However, it is not my intention to dwell. I’ve done enough dwelling on 2019 already. Instead of focusing on the negatives, I want to share with you the highlights of my year. There is light among the dark.
I GRADUATED COLLEGE AND STARED UNIVERSITY
If you’ve not read my post on my journey to higher education, then you might not know why this is an achievement for me. It was not an easy ride but it was worth it. I passed my course with flying colours. I made lifelong friends. My confidence soared. Not only is this one of my proudest achievements from 2019, it is one of the proudest moments of my entire life. At the point of writing this, I am halfway through my first year at university. My aim is to graduate in three years with a degree in Psychology with Clinical and Health Psychology. While university has caused my mental health to deteriorate and saw me almost drop out before Christmas, I’m extremely proud that I’m still there. I’ve come too far to give up now.
I WENT ON HOLIDAY
The last holiday abroad I had was when I was thirteen. My mental health had not yet deteriorated significantly by that point and I was able to enjoy myself. This year was the first time I’ve been abroad since being diagnosed with social anxiety and developing an eating disorder. I was particularly anxious about the crowds at Disneyworld, especially the queues for all the rides. The food in America is totally different to what I’m used to so that also caused me anxiety. Most of all, I was anxious about my body. I was scared about how I would look in photos. I was terrified of exposing my skin in shorts and vest tops. My fears were unfounded and I managed to have an incredible time with my family.
MEETING JAY KRISTOFF
Jay Kristoff has fast become one of my favourite authors. I devoured the young adult sci-fi series he has co-authored with Amie Kaufman, The Illuminae Files. And I absolutely love his adult, grimdark fantasy series The Nevernight Chronicles. So when I saw that he was visiting the UK to promote Darkdawn, I knew I wanted to go. The event was two hours away in Manchester. We spent an hour in a small, crowded room listening to Jay talk, then got to meet him and get books signed. My anxiety did get the best of me as I was meeting Jay, which I’m trying not to feel disappointed about. He even tweeted a sweet message to me afterwards when I apologised for being anxious. Considering I probably wouldn’t have been able to attend an event like this last year because of my anxiety, I’m proud that I went and managed as well as I did.
It’s okay if what you did was survive
There are posts circulating around social media asking people to list what they’ve achieved, both in 2019 and the past decade. While I understand the sentiment behind these posts, all they’ve done is remind me of the things I’ve wanted to accomplish but haven’t yet for one reason or another. These posts have left me feeling inferior and incompetent. The last thing I want to do is compare myself to any other person, because I’ve not had the same opportunities and experiences as them, but that’s the game I’m playing.
If you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything because you’ve been battling your mind for so long, I want you to know I’m proud of you. If what you did this year, or this past decade, was to survive then I’m proud of you. You don’t have to have volunteered at an elephant sanctuary or fed the homeless to have achieved something significant in your life. Surviving is an achievement. In fact, I would argue it’s the most important achievement of all.