The Best (and the Worst) of Times
As 2018 comes to an end, it is hard not to get sentimental over the past 364 days.
I’ll admit, I’ve always been one for sentimentality at this time of year - tearing up at the Year in Review videos, checking out my top 9 on Insta or just taking this moment to think back on what a year it has been.
Amidst all the festive craziness of the past week, I’ve almost forgotten to truly take in what has happened in my 2018.
I’ve visited a dozen countries, had countless emotional breakdowns, questioned myself and my decisions daily and somehow - against all odds - survived and even thrived.
To say this was a momentous year, would barely cover it.
It has been bloody crazy and I have felt every high and low. I cannot confidently say I was living my best life - however joyous and carefree my travels may have seemed - because the self-doubt and anxiety still plagues every good memory.
I have had some of the most incredible experiences - from floating down the Drina River, drinking rakija as a zigged-zagged between Bosnia and Serbia to getting stuck in thunderstorms in the Sahara Desert to riding around on a bike amongst the Dutch tulip fields or raving on a Monday night to fireworks that went off in time to the techno music in Malta.
I’ve done some of the most exciting work in my career; and some of the least. I’ve tried new foods, new drinks, new things at every turn. My comfort zone is far stretched from what it was this time last year.
I mean, how was this all just 2018? But this year has been so much more than just the things that I ticked off my bucket list. The journey I’ve gone through has little to do with the countries I’ve visited, but rather the emotional rollercoaster that has led me here; the growing I’ve done; the lessons I’ve learned.
1. You just don’t have to
We live our lives plagued by the expectation of what we have to do, what we should be doing, what we could be doing. But who puts these expectations on us?
We do not live our lives for other people. In fact, it is our responsibility to live our lives for ourselves. This is your journey and your journey completely. You have to make the choices that make the most sense for you and be the guardian of your own happiness. It is up to us to enjoy our lives and make the most of it because no one else can have those same experiences.
We don’t have to be living our best lives and having the craziest adventures every single day. We don’t have to be posting every day, We don’t have to have it all figured out. We’ve just got to do what’s right for you and be ok if that changes.
2. TIME IS A MOVING CONSTRUCT
A lot of my anxiety comes from this idea that our time is finite. I mean, sure, it is. We only have a limited amount of days on this earth and thus we should make the most of it. But we cannot control what that limit is. Maybe it will be 100 days, 10000, many many more. We cannot plan with the end in mind when that tentpole can be so different for all of us.
At the same time, we have more time than we’ll ever have for anything. So it’s ok to rest. It’s ok to stop.
The value of time changes when you just let it all go. I feel the familiar panic start to rise that I have flights coming up in about two weeks away and there is so much to do. And yet, if I think back over the year, two weeks in one place seemed like such a luxuriously long amount of time.
3. You will never be alone
I sometimes refer to this year as the ‘year of me.’ I mean, I’ve been self-indulgent enough on this blog, let alone my life. I’ve put myself first, listened to myself every step of the way to make choices that made sense for me. As someone anonymous says:
A woman who knows what she brings to the table isn’t afraid to eat alone.
I’ve enjoyed my own company this year, if not gotten a little bored and it’s been nice to grow in my self-confidence and reliance. But the most empowering thing for me is that I know that I am not alone.
The people that matter will show up. They are there to celebrate my wins and catch me if I fall. They encourage me, steer me, help me when I ask. They share in my joy and even in my sadness. No matter how far I go or how long I’m gone, I know that they will always welcome me with open arms, open hearts and oftentimes, open doors.
as 2019 gets closer, I feel more excited and scared in equal parts for what’s coming up next.
Some may think that the whole 'quit-your-job-to-travel-the-world’ thing is my quarter-life crisis. And with my 25th birthday just on the other side of the new year, the timing could never be more in sync. But sorry mum, that’s not quite it.
I’m on a path that I can’t turn away from. I’ve taken a peek behind the curtain of this whole digital nomad life and I want in. Spending the past three months working back in a 9-to-5 office - no less, my old office - has in fact solidified that I crave the flexibility and ownership I got to experience as a remote worker.
So 2018, it’s been a riot. It has truly been the best of times for I’ve had the worst of times too. But all this has gotten me further than I ever thought possible and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Can you?