A Ramble About 2018 and Looking Forward to 2019

2018 has been a bit of a weird one, hasn't it? I definitely don't think I'm alone in feeling like that, but it's become a bit of a tradition for me to write a post to talk about how my year has been and what I want out of the next year, so even though it's going to be a bit of a tough one to write, I'm going to persevere! Plus, there are only a handful of days left in the year, so I need to crack on and get started, despite my lack of motivation lately. I realise it's been a little while since I've published anything on here, but right now, I've got a face mask on and my love is tip-tapping away on his blog next to me, so while I'm feeling so content, I figured I may as well start chatting about 2018.

Much like my 2017 ramble, I'm going to start by re-visiting the loose goals that I set myself for this year and talking about how I think I did with each one. I know it's the done thing to make New Years resolutions, but I think there's a bit of pressure that comes with the word 'resolution', so loose goals are what I prefer to go with!
  1. Keep going to the gym - I'll be completely honest with you all, this did not happen. I tried to be strict with myself and find the motivation to keep the effort up, but it became difficult when university got more intense. However, I did go on my own one time, which I was very proud of! I was very much a "oh my god, everyone is looking at me and I'm so self conscious" type of person when it came to the gym, so hated the thought of going on my own, but I did it and would quite happily do it again.
  2. Graduate with at least a Merit - for this goal, I said that I wasn't setting my sights too high, and that definitely paid off because I only went and graduated with a Distinction! I'm so proud of my little self and I'm so pleased that I pushed myself to put in as much effort as possible.
  3. Travel more - I think I kind of achieved this goal. I went to Krakow in March with my then partner, and Alex and I went to Scotland and the Lake District. I also went on a family holiday to Crete, and there were little day trips here and there. Granted, it wasn't a lot of travelling abroad like you see from other bloggers, but I thoroughly enjoyed going out and about a bit more this year. I even went to my first Newcastle bloggers event which was exciting!
  4. Experiment with photography - this goal I have definitely achieved. I acquired some new camera equipment this year and have been putting it to good use, both on my blog and in the photos I take just for fun. I've loved having a play with settings and editing and finding my own style.
  5. Read more books for pleasure - my English degree sort of beat my love for books out of me and I struggled to find the time to read books for pleasure during my degree, but I started off the year reading at least one book a month that was outside of my university reading. I know this isn't a lot, but it really worked for me! I picked up a bit of pace with the books I was getting through in the middle of the year, but have slowed down again now, but this is the year that I 100% fell in love with reading again.
Now, I don't think I'm alone when I say that 2018 was a bit of a rollercoaster, but the year started off pretty nicely for me. I was fully into my Masters and absolutely loving it. I seemed to be smashing all of my assignments and getting amazing marks that were completely beyond my expectations. I had high hopes that I was going to graduate with a classification that I was happy with and a solid idea of what kind of career I wanted to go into. It did get pretty tough in February and I found that the workload became a lot to handle, but I managed it and made it to the deadlines with my head held high.

In March, I flew to Krakow with my then fiancee, which was an absolute blast. I'd organised the whole trip myself, so I conveniently managed to book the holiday over my birthday, meaning I turned 24 in the Main Square, eating a chocolatey pancake whilst it started to snow. It was absolutely lovely! It's a city that I fell madly in love with and would quite happily visit again (as well as the rest of Poland - please give me suggestions of which cities to visit). I also ran a really successful campaign with my mum's WI group in March - we held an Easter egg appeal with our local Co-op to encourage the community to donate Easter eggs for A Way Out, a charity that works with vulnerable women and children. We received over 130 eggs and 12 goodie bags from people and businesses in the area, so needless to say, I was chuffed!

Speaking of campaigns, April saw me and my university group run one with Anthony Nolan and Marrow. This was part of an assignment and it ended up being so much bigger than we imagined. We were on the radio, we held a recruitment drive, we had our campaign graphic broadcast on the university big screen and our Marrow contact was so pleased with the amount of people we recruited, she said that she wanted to write a case study about the campaign! I was so proud and pleased with how well we had done, and it gave me a little 'this is definitely the career I want' type of boost.
It was in May when my year took a bit of a turn. My relationship with my fiancee crumbled, which was difficult as we had built a little life together and neither of us had experienced a break up quite like it. How would we decide what belonged to who in the house? Would I be able to continue renting on my own after he moved out? Who was going to check my car tyre pressure? These were just some of the questions that went through my head during this time, plus so many more. It was confusing and hard. I had my whole world tipped upside down and I was facing criticism from people outside of the relationship who thought that breaking up was the wrong thing to do. But luckily, I had a nice little support system and I managed to get through it.

I also faced criticisms when Alex and I got together. This was at the start of June, and yes, I know, that's pretty quick, considering J and I split up in May, and we had been together for over 5 years. But this was just one of those 'when you know, you know' type of things. I was so happy when I was around Alex and he really helped to patch up my broken heart. We had met during the Anthony Nolan campaign, as he volunteered to help me with some videoing. We became good friends over the couple of months and he was there when I needed someone to talk to. We fell for each other pretty quickly, which feels so minging to say publicly, but I'd be lying if I told you otherwise! Of course, I was still a little bit wounded from the break up and it took a little while for me to fully feel like myself again, but I got there eventually with his help and I'm so glad to say that we're still going strong.

Over the summer, we had lots of lovely little adventures. We spent many days just laid on the grass in our local park and eating ice cream, we visited the beach, we climbed Roseberry Topping and we went to my goddaughter's Christening. We also took part in Cake Fest Middlesbrough, which was such a brilliant day and I loved the lead up to it, especially. I got fully involved, taking part in a live radio interview, a TV interview and baking a practise cake for Cake Fest to use in their social media promos. Alex did lots of filming for me and produced amazing videos for the occasion, and he also dealt with a lot of my stress when it came to the baking. If you didn't see my post, I opted to make Baker Street, which is a colourful road in Middlesbrough and it was a huge task, but my cake came third in the competition! I was so proud and we had a brilliant day at the event, and I can't wait for the next one.
I also started my third semester of university during the summer. That's right - when all the undergraduates were off enjoying the sun, I was at university or in the library! This is the last push for me to get the big marks that I was dreaming of. So far in uni, I'd been getting Firsts (apart from on one assignment where I got a 2:1), so it was looking highly likely that I could end the year with a Distinction. However, I wanted to push myself and do the best that I could. So, for my final project, I launched a lifestyle news website for Middlesbrough women. This was to fight back against the claims that Middlesbrough was the worst place to live as a girl or woman, so I posted news about successful Boro businesswomen, women in arts and entertainment, and women who were making waves in charity work. It was pretty popular and I was so proud of it. However, the analytical essay that I had to write alongside it let me down marks-wise. Despite that, I received a 2:1 for the project and when September rolled around, I opened up my classification letter to find that I got a Distinction overall! I was so so pleased that all my hard work had paid off and I started getting ridiculously excited for my graduation.

After everything was handed in, Alex whisked me off for a long weekend in Scotland, which was just dreamy. We went to The Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry, a place I had never visited before, then travelled to Edinburgh for a couple of days. It was the most perfect little getaway and even though Alex was full of cold and it hammered down the whole time we were there, I couldn't have asked for more.

Even though I'd had an amazing summer and I'd worked my butt off to get the classification of my dreams, the sadness set in pretty hard towards the end of the year. I talked a lot about why my mental health declined in this post, but to give you a general idea, I realised after J moved out that I would need to move home because I couldn't afford to live alone. I was also struggling to find a job and on top of that, I ended up having an accident in November that left me with mobility issues. I honestly felt like I was at rock bottom - like I was a burden and an inconvenience to everyone. I'm still struggling with the whole living at my mum's and being jobless situation, but luckily, I am well on the mend after my accident. At the time of writing, it's been almost 7 weeks since it happened and I've finally started walking without a support boot on. Yes, I can only last a little while before I need to sit down, but I'm getting there.

I ended up needing a wheelchair because I couldn't walk at all and I couldn't get to grips with crutches. So imagine my frustration when I found out that I'd won a trip to the Lake District through a Twitter retweet competition! I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to go or enjoy myself, so I was in a bit of a pickle about what to do. But with some encouragement from Alex, we went on the trip and loved it. It was exactly what we needed after all the life adjusting that had happened recently and we even managed to have a walk through a forest with the wheelchair. It was definitely an experience that brought us closer together.
Because I'd made pretty good progress with my foot, I was able to walk across the graduation stage instead of using my wheelchair. If you want to read all about my graduation, including what I wore, what makeup I had on and what we did with the rest of the day, you can take a look here. There's also a great photo of me in my full outfit, with one moon boot and one high heel - it was a pretty statement look.

So that pretty much brings us up to the present day. Of course, there were lots of other little bits in between, but if I told you about every single detail of the year, we would be here until Christmas 2019. But there were a few blogging events that I went to with Alex (who also set up The Southernist), lots of lovely birthdays, including my youngest goddaughter's first, all of the blog collabs, and of course, Christmas! But now, it's time for my favourite part of the post - the part where I think about 2019, what I want from it and what loose goals I would like to set myself.

  1. Lose some weight - I know this is a resolution that everyone and their dog sets themselves, but I have felt so rubbish about myself lately. Not being able to move and feeling sad has meant that I have comfort ate a lot. I've looked at old photos of myself and thought "as if I thought I was fat then." So in 2019, I really want to shed some pounds in order to feel a bit more confident.
  2. Find a job - the end of this year has involved a lot of job hunting, but nothing has come from it, so next year, I am absolutely determined to get a job and start earning again.
  3. Sell at least one batch of baked goods - this might sound daft, but I've had a dream for such a long time of baking for a living. This goal doesn't relate at all to the 'find a job' one, because I don't think I'm in a position to live off money made from selling cakes, but I'd love it if in 2019, I sold at least one batch of baked goods, whether it be cupcakes, brownies, a whole cake... anything!
  4. Use up the makeup that I have - I am a horror for buying new makeup when I absolutely don't need it (I say as I hit confirm on the Jeffree Star Blood Sugar palette purchase... oops), but in 2019, I am going to use up some of my stash. I've seen the 'pan the palette' trend on Insta, where you make it your goal to hit pan on your eyeshadow palettes, so maybe that is something I will try! I would also really like to dabble in beauty content a bit more, so this might be something that gets featured every once in a while.
  5. Improve my mental health - I realise that my first and second goals may help this one along, but yes, I have been pretty low for a lot of this year. I realise that, if you've read the rambly bit of this post, there were lots of high points, but there was always an underlying feeling of sadness throughout a lot of it. This is something I need to work on and calm. I'm already listening to guided meditaitons on a night time to soothe any toxic thoughts I have before bed, but I'd love some more suggestions!
If you managed to read this whole post, I commend you! It wasn't half a chunky one, so well done if you got all the way to the bottom. If you skimmed bits to get down here, that's ok, I won't shame you. I would absolutely love to know how your year has been. What were your highlights? And what do you hope to get out of next year?

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