27 December 2018

2018 in Review

2018 was an accidental gap-year. I arrived back home in France in November 2017 after a year working in north London (after graduating from university) and a six-week backpacking trip. I had one major goal to accomplish in 2018: get my driver's licence. I needed it to move forward in my life. However I didn't expect something so trivial to be such a challenging, psychological hurdle. The process took months longer than I had expected and my entire life evolved around me passing my theory, taking driving lessons 2-3 times a week and finally driving under my parent's supervision. Because everything evolved around these lessons the pressure to succeed caused my anxiety to spike before, during and after each lesson, more oft than not leaving me in tears after each one.

During this time I applied for a summer job. I was living back at home permanently for the 1st time since I moved out at 18. Miraculously I got a phone interview shortly after applying (which I passed) followed by a training day which would assess whether or not I could do the job. Once again the pressure to succeed, to do something, got the better of me. The fact the job involved answering phone calls under pressure probably wasn't the wisest decision on my part ("Maybe you should ring them" is one of the worst sentences for me to hear) but once again I Needed A Job so I had to at least try. Sadly positive thinking didn't work out. Anxiety triggered a migraine which developed throughout the training day. After my last test session which was an oral exam I walked out of the room, managed to walk down a flight of stairs before vomiting in the building's toilets. This was without a doubt my lowest point of the year and to top things off, I was 3 points off from getting the job. Another failure and set-back.

Now, let's get past the sad bits! Things started to look up upon the arrival of Spring. I really wanted to visit more nearby historical monuments this year: we visited the beautiful Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The Chateau itself was stunning but the surrounding gardens and farm were equally impressive. It was a place straight out of a fairytale! We visited two other chateaux too, and have lots more to visit in the new year.

Thankfully I returned to north London for 2 months in the summer which was the best decision I made this year. It caused me to take a break from my driving lessons but the pros far outweighed the cons! I worked, caught up with close friends and family and even met up with friends I met during my travels in New Zealand. It was a very busy couple of months but I had the best time, and it reminded me why I fell in love with London in the first place. Highlight moments include a day out at Kew Gardens, Indian takeaways, getting up at 5am to queue for King Lear tickets (saw the legendary Sir Ian McKellen on stage!), seeing a few more plays and afternoons spent wandering around museums. A very welcome change after a cold few months isolated in the french countryside!

Autumn went past in a flash, albeit a good one. At the start of October I began an online Business Writing Course which gave my days more structure and offered me an actual goal to achieve. It felt good to study again, to learn something new. And because it was something I could do by myself, in my own time and space, it didn't feel like an added pressure.

Despite the omnipresent stress of driving, this year did have its highlights. I've loved living back at home (even with it's disadvantages): being reunited with my animals, surrounded by nature, and basically living a much slower pace of life was something I hadn't realised I'd needed after a year in North London followed by non-stop travel. Visiting North London and catching up with friends and family was wonderful. We also had some great days out this spring and summer, visiting nearby historical monuments which I loved. The aforementioned Chateau de Chenonceau and the Chateau des Ormes were stunning! Days out with my closest friends here in France, pizza nights and days by the river. I edited and shared all the travel vlogs from Vancouver and New Zealand. I was introduced to new shows and such as Buzzfeed Unsolved, Outlander, The Good Place, Friends(!) and more.

I've finally fallen back in love with reading. I spend an hour or so reading before bed instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. I've continued creating content on the blog: sharing film, tv and theatre reviews, 35mm film posts and more. We also started sharing 95% of our posts in French (if some remain to be translated it's due to lack of time!). My favourite reviews are Daredevil Season 3, Westworld Season 2 and I, Tonya. And finally, 10 long months later, I passed my driving test! 

Overall, 2018 was one of the hardest years of my life in terms of personal accomplishments and financial stability, but the most important things in my life such as my family and friends helped me through it. To be quite honest I'm glad to see the back of 2018, and most of all, never hear the question "How's driving going?" ever, ever again! I know this post is quite a personal one which I may end up regretting/editing in the future but I'd like to think that Christmas and New Year is a time where people come together and realise they have more in common than they thought. If anyone reading this is going through any kind of hardship (even if it seems silly to an outsider), just know you're not alone and you'll get through it one step at a time!

Although I know 2019 will bring a new set of challenges (many of which have been on my mind for some time) I'm confident that I will overcome anything the world throws my way. Who knows where I'll be living, where I'll be working. Dealing with my own self-imposed expectations as well as the expectations of others will no doubt be difficult but I'll deal with it. If this year has taught me anything it's that you can only do things at your own pace, follow your own path and above all else, make your mental health a priority. 2019 is a truly a blank page in every sense.

Maybe I should share some words of wisdom to finish this post? Here we go.

-Daredevil is my favourite show and Netflix were cruel to cancel it.
-Only do something if it's ok with you. Don't feel obligated to do things that make you feel uncomfortable just to please others.
-Tea will improve any situation. Especially when accompanied by cookies.
-Be proud of your achievements, however big or small. 
-Scroll less, read more. 

I hope you're all having a wonderful festive season, whether you celebrate Christmas or not! I'm eagerly waiting for another roast dinner because 1 just isn't enough.

Best wishes, Summer x

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