As 2016 is coming to an end I’ve been thinking about how crazy and amazing this year has been. I know a lot of people have said it’s the worst year ever (globally) but you can’t stay focused on all of the negativity in the world and expect to live a positive life- there is good and bad in everything. For me, it has been the most life changing time ever. Looking at my journal entries from throughout this year has allowed me to see how I’ve grown as a person, and I’m able to reflect and learn from these thoughts and feelings.
In my first journal entry of 2016 I wrote briefly about my travel plans. I had a trip to the USA planned for the whole month of January. I had a one way flight to Miami booked and would be staying in a hostel alone for the first time. I wrote that I was super nervous and worried that I wouldn’t make any friends. I had no idea at this time that I’d be back in Miami in May, travelling to Mexico to visit a friend I’d made on an aeroplane, going to Vegas with my best friend AND moving to Canada for 3 months! It’s so crazy to look back and see how much my life changed in just a few months. I’ve been learning so much this year and for once actually being aware of what life is trying to teach me through my experiences. When I’m having a hard time, I’ve learned to look for the lesson rather than just having a massive pity party.
The most important thing I’ve learned is how to be uncomfortable, and also that being uncomfortable isn’t the end of the world. This year I quit the job I’d had for 7 years, sold my car, moved to Canada on my own to work and blew every penny of my 5 years’ savings to live there. I hated my job in Toronto so I quit even though my apartment lease was almost up. I admitted to myself that my lifelong dream of moving abroad wasn’t what I thought it would be and I came home unemployed, in debt with a 5 month gap in my CV…
This time last year I never would have dreamed of doing any of those things because I would’ve been too scared. I liked security and being comfortable. But this year has taught me that nothing is secure. The company you’ve worked for all your life could go bust tomorrow, leaving you without an income. Then what? Everything changes eventually and I’ve learned to welcome change instead of running from it because it always turns out to be for the better.
Strangely enough my life hasn’t fallen apart like I expected after making all of these scary choices. I applied for a grand total of four jobs when I came home before I started working again- at a job that is less stressful and pays more than my last one. I get weekends off (which I’ve never had) and my shifts suit me much better. I’ve started up my savings account again and I’m making more travel plans for 2017. The memories I made after quitting my job in Toronto will stay with me far longer than working at that horrible job will. I’m a big believer that thoughts create reality and this whole experience has taught me to be brave in my decisions. Life has a funny way of always working out.
In 2016 I’ve also met some super special people who have become friends for life. As I’ve travelled this year, I’ve interacted and bonded with people I never thought I would. People way older and way younger than me, with different interests, backgrounds and beliefs… These people have taught me such important things without even realising it.
A friend I made on the plane to Miami inspired me when he told me about his dream of creating an eco-friendly hostel in Mexico. A few months later he was in Mexico making construction plans and fundraising. He made me realise that those crazy, unrealistic life goals I had for myself might actually be possible and encouraged me to believe in myself. Another friend I met during my second trip to Miami made me realise that life really isn’t that serious. He made me “wake up” to the illusion and craziness that is life. Through my interactions with him, I’ve learned to relax my hold on things, think less and make decisions from my heart rather than what society tells me.
Lastly, I made an amazing friend in Toronto who inspired me with her attitude towards life. She has an energy about her which is so carefree. She is full of gratitude for every little thing and it’s so beautiful to be around someone like that. She taught me the importance of living in the moment and not worrying about what’s next. I’ve met so many more inspiring people this year and this is the reason I love to travel so often. When I travel and meet other travellers I find that all of the “masks” just disappear and the connections are very raw and real.
I also learned to appreciate how special my friendships at home are and realised how lucky I am to have such great friends- this isn’t something that everyone gets the privilege of experiencing. I’ve strengthened my existing relationships, let a lot more positivity and love into my life, and let go of a lot of toxic things and people over the last 12 months.
It has been a really incredible year and I’ve experienced so much. Here’s a little video I made of this year’s most special moments:
I’m so grateful for all that has happened to me this year, good and bad, and I am excited to make 2017 even better.
What positive things have happened to you this year? What goals have you achieved? What have you learned? What will you do differently in 2017?