Without a doubt, 2015 has been a teeny bit crap. Sorry.
But it has been challenging, exciting, and, as corny as it is, I really do feel like a stronger person for making it out the other side with a fairly modest number of tears, and having learnt a lot about how to make it through the twists and turns of life. I think I’ve grown up a bit. I hope I have, anyway.
Anyway, here’s what I learnt in 2015….
1. Lidl is the dream. THE ABSOLUTE DREAM. Actually, no, the real dream is the Lidl bakery cookies, but the close runner-up has to be Lidl itself. How so cheap? How so much range? I’ll never know. All I have learnt is that if wherever I end up living in the future has a Lidl within a few miles I’ll feel like I’ve made it in life.
2. Calling in sick to work is something that people actually do. And, wait for it, it can be ok. I cancelled a whole week of work away in Sweden this year under medical advice, and, as much as I hated myself for flaking at the time, it was one of the best decisions I made. It took a lot of tantrums to make me realise that I really couldn’t handle working at that time, and that it is ok to put your health first. Your employers aren’t going to hate you.
3. Nothing will help you combat a fear like facing it. Scared of needles? Go and give blood. Spiders make you cringe with horror? Start by watching the I’m a Celebrity eating trials and build up to just being able to look at one without screaming. It’s taken me six months to fully get over my needle phobia, and it’s something that’ll always be lurking in the back of my mind, but God, it’s worth all the stabbing just to not have panic sweats every time I get approached with one.
4. It’s vital to find that one song that will make you want to get out of bed and tackle life when nothing else can. When it’s raining outside and you know you have a hideously long day at work ahead, or you have your least favourite lecture at 9am. Listen to it as you get up and sloth around your room. Listen to it again in the shower. For me it’s Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off and I have NO SHAME about that.
5. McDonald’s is never a good idea. I say this in the knowledge that next time I crave one there may be no stopping me and I will ignore all the advice to the contrary, but they will leave you feeling achy and unclean a couple of hours later. And I am willing to sacrifice myself to their lure until I finally stick to this wisdom.
6. It’s also never ok to be stuck up. I appreciate that some of my closer friends may have noticed that I seem this way recently, so I just want to apologise, profusely. I’m finally feeling a bit more settled and confident and sometimes it just comes out in a high-and-mighty tone. I don’t really mean it. A friend recently told me that she’s trying not to judge people for just being who they really are, and I think that’s a really simple, but great philosophy to start following.
7. That said, I will never apologise for use of heavily sarcastic humour. Laughing, at myself and with other people, is one of the things that’s kept me going this year.
8. Candles are still the absolute flippin’ dream. I received seven of them for Christmas and I am in heaven. I will always have one burning when doing some work, or just relaxing in bed.
9. Finally beginning to master some staple dishes to cook is great. Macaroni cheese, homemade potato wedges with salt and ketchup and toad in the hole have become my go-to comfort foods when I’ve had a horrible day. Mastering one dish and cooking it better than anyone else you know is a pretty useful life skill, and a totally justifiable thing to be practicing than essay writing. Sort of.
10. I bloody love England. I love that we are the only people difficult enough to drive on the left side of the road. I love that we moan all year about the rain and then complain just as much when it’s hot in December. And I really, truly love the NHS.
11. A big event in your life can totally alter your perspective on what you were put on this earth to do. One of my previous nurses spent the first half of her life dreaming about being a ballet dancer, injured herself in her twenties, and wanted to be a nurse after recovering, and dedicate her life to helping other people. I’ve learnt that you don’t need to make millions of pounds or change the world to be happy. And happiness is what I really want.
12. It’s ok to have less friends as you grow older. Some old friends will slip away, some newer ones will make a bigger impact, and as long as you have some people to come home to and talk about grown up things like mortgages and work alongside Harry Potter with, you’ll turn out alright.
13. Saving up for a holiday feels good. Booking something different and spontaneous feels good. Life’s too short to worry about money all the time. It doesn’t always have to be big. Matt and I are heading to Edinburgh this week with friends and I can’t wait.
14. As stressed as the thought may make you, a busy, productive weekend, or even a day, will always make you feel better than one with no plans. Sometimes I need a pyjama day, but nothing makes me feel more disappointed than too many of them in which I achieve nothing.
15. Nothing, nothing, nothing, is more important than family. As much as every family has their complications, they really are the people that you can turn to when it feels like your whole life is falling apart. Whether they’re giving me tough love or telling me that I’m great and brave, I wouldn’t have made it through this year without my family. I had the best Christmas with my huge extended family, and I feel so touched and emotional when I think about how lucky I am to have them. Life slips away without you even realising it, so finding beauty in what I already have is what I’m going to spend 2016 doing.