A Ramble About 2016

I realise that the year isn't quite over and there's still just over a week for things to go pear-shaped, but I've been wanting to do a yearly ramble for a while now. If I don't get all this stuff written down, I'm pretty sure I'll explode! It's been a real rollercoaster of a year and as it's coming to a close, I feel like now is an appropriate time to tell you all what I've done, achieved, experienced and enjoyed through it. I want this to be as real and raw as possible, so I probably won't edit it too much. Expect sentences that don't make too much sense and long-winded ways of saying things. As a side note, I'm just going to be talking about the year - I'll be doing another post about 2017 and my hopes, plans and reflections on my resolutions.

I had really high hopes for this year and I remember back in December 2015, I was telling myself that 2016 was going to be my year. In some ways I feel that it has been, but in others, I feel that it hasn't.

Things didn't really get off to a great start, as someone in my family had to have surgery very unexpectedly on New Year's Eve. It meant that we didn't spend NYE together as we usually do and New Year's Day was a pretty sombre affair. But that person recovered well and things seemed to be going pretty well, until the autumn, when they found out they would need to go back in for surgery. Again, there were a few weeks where everyone and everything seemed to stop, and they recovered, only to be told they needed surgery AGAIN at the end of November - so they had surgery three times in the space of a year. Obviously, it caused a lot of chaos in their life, but also in mine. I had to put a lot of things on hold and juggle work at the drop of a hat. I know this isn't a lot in comparison to what a lot of other people have to deal with, but I'm so close to this person and they always made out that everything was perfectly fine, when it actually wasn't. To think of losing them or for anything bad to happen would've been absolutely soul-destroying. But earlier this month, they went for their check up to see how the recovery was going, and they were told that everything was back to normal and they won't need to go back. While it was a scary time, there was a silver lining - I learned how important it is to go for a smear test when you're told to.
I turned 22 this year, all the way back in March, and I remember thinking, "oh god, this is a pretty big number. Does this mean I'm old now?" In my mind, 22 was such a big leap from 21, as 21 is "the" age, so to move on from that was a pretty big deal. But now 23 is looming and honestly, I'm excited about it. To me, it feels a bit more grown-up than 22 - maybe that's just me.

One of my biggest achievements of the year was graduating from University. It'd been a tough four years (I did one year of TV and Film Production, three of English Studies with Creative Writing), but I pulled through it and got a mark that I was pleased with. There were a bunch of times where I found myself sat on my bed, crying because I didn't want to go back, and I'll admit, there were times where I wanted to quit, particularly towards the end. But I am a pretty determined and headstrong person, so I would pull myself together and get on with it. While I've done a lot of cool things at University over the years, this year, I had a whole heap of fun writing my dissertation (which I did about Victorian women in literature and the oppression of the patriarchal society, looking at Goblin Market and Oliver Twist, if anyone was interested) and received a First for it. I also poured my heart into an 8000 word short story for my final creative writing piece, and I've become so attached to the characters, that I'm really hoping to develop it at some point. I ended up with a very high 2:1, so high that if I was given just one more mark on a piece of work, I would've had a First, but hey, that's good enough for me.

Graduating from Uni came with a bit of sadness, though. Not because I was sad about not learning or writing essays anymore, but because I had to leave one of the best jobs I've ever had. I worked in the Students' Union for over 3 years as a member of the bar team, and I absolutely loved it. There were times I hated it and there was one time when I was a hair away from quitting, but I'm so glad I stayed. I learned a lot from it and met some of the best people (and some of the worst, I won't lie). Despite the late nights, the rowdy drunks and all the times I ended up with cold food all over my hands, I really enjoyed my time there. If anyone is thinking of going to Teesside University, keep your eyes peeled for job vacancies in the bar - you won't regret it!

I feel that J and I have become a lot stronger as a couple over this year, and one of the things that we achieved as a unit was getting J through the British citizenship process. J is South African - born and raised there for 9 years before moving to England, which means he's lived here for 15+ years, so he was practically a British citizen anyway, just not in documentation. So we started the naturalisation in late 2015/January 2016 (I think?) and he was finally granted citizenship in September. It was a seriously lengthy and expensive process, but he is now an official British citizen and do all the things we do, like vote and have a British passport. There were a lot of tests, driving long distances for meetings and a ton of paperwork, but it's all done now and we can rest easy.
I saw a butt ton of great live performances in 2016! I saw Beyonce in June with my sister, went to Leeds Festival with J in August, and saw White Lies and Frank Turner earlier this season. We also took a family trip to the Edinburgh Fringe in the summer, which I absolutely loved! The weather was ideal and the performances we saw were brilliant.

It was also in the summer that I started working. This is where things became a little hectic in my life! I applied to work full-time at a copywriting company because it was advertised on the University's careers site, but the manager responded saying that they couldn't take on a full-time worker. Instead, he offered me some freelance work, which I took on because I needed some money and I enjoyed writing - it made sense. Around the same time, my mum had joined a WI and they were looking to expand their online reach, so I became a volunteer social media manager for them. If you were feeling lovely, you could take a look at their website. Since I started with them, the WI have gained a ton more members, not all old, and they've had to start a waiting list. Plus, their site DA is 97, so I must be doing something right! As well as being part of the WI, my mum is the stewardess of a rugby club, which means she takes care of the staff. One day, they were understaffed, so she asked me to help out and I've been working there ever since. So yes, I have been working three jobs since the summer, and it has really played havoc on my life. It has actually been a little bit crap, as the one that I enjoy the most is voluntary.

That's all about to change, though, as I received an email from the careers people in November, telling me that there were going to be a range of paid internships available. On my own steam, I decided to take a look and ended up applying. Fast forward a month, an interview and an offer email later, I have been given a full-time, fully paid internship for three months, starting in January. I will be a Recruitment and Admissions Assistant in Teesside University's Department of External Relations, and I honestly couldn't be more excited about it. I popped down for a meeting with the manager just the other day and everyone seemed so lovely! It means that I'm going to have to drop my copywriting work, which I don't mind at all. I'll be pleased to actually have some time for myself and have a solid pay. Gone are the days of people cutting my rate of pay without telling me, having to stay up all night rewriting work because it isn't good enough and looking at an Excel spreadsheet until my brain hurts. I'll also have to stop doing so many shifts at the rugby club, but again, this is something that I won't be too sad about.
In terms of my blog, I'm really disappointed in myself for not using it a lot at the start of the year. I had every intention of writing and sharing a lot with you guys, but University was just a bit too much. It's quite funny that I've done more towards the end of the year actually, as I've been splitting my time between three jobs, like I said, so I don't know how I've managed to squeeze time in for blogging. But I'm so pleased with my content recently, which was the problem with my last blog. With Olivia's Notebook (remember that!), I was writing stuff that I thought other people would want to read, but with The Northernist, I've been writing what I would like to read. It's been pretty therapeutic for me, I think, and I've been so excited to hit Publish every time. There have been weeks where I've scheduled posts and had to re-jig them because I just couldn't wait for a certain post to go online, and I think that just shows how much I've been enjoying blogging lately. I feel like I can go at my own pace and say what I want to say without being pressured. I just think it's going great and I couldn't ask for anymore.

If you've made it this far, well done! I realise that I've waffled on for an absolute age, but it feels good to get all this off my chest. As I said before, I'll be doing a separate post on 2017. I'll look back at my resolutions for 2016 and seeing how they held up, creating new ones for 2017, talking about my hopes, and where I want to go with my blog. Thank you for reading this far and let me know what you got up to in 2016.

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