Today is the 5 year anniversary of me starting the first version of this blog! Originally called ‘The Smile Diary’ I began the blog in April 2013 less than 5 months after my Mum passed away as an outlet for my emotions. I felt lost, alone, and scared about what next, and as a writer it seemed only natural to me that I put my thoughts down in order to make sense of them. Realising that I wasn’t the only one going through the things I was dealing with, I decided a blog would be a good place to talk about the things that often aren’t talked about like death (and more specifically losing a parent). I shared my story to give some context to where I was at that moment in time; 21 years old, supposed to graduate from uni that summer but taking a break and wondering what on earth the future now held for me.
I also wrote a lot about my life observations from little everyday things through to bigger issues like dealing with overwhelm. After my Mum died I realised I had spent my teenage years and the beginning of my twenties in reactive mode, and now it was time to actually discover myself. So I’ve spent the past 5 years in self-discovery and self-development mode, as I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Through all of this, I’ve done my best to blog, though there have been many times when I let it fall to the wayside when things got tough. I’ve written several posts on how I want to get back into blogging, and made several broken promises about blogging consistently. So far, this hasn’t happened, and I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up about that over the past 5 years. The thing is, I haven’t really had much consistency in my entire life, so I struggle to do things consistently in all areas. It took me years to get to a point where I brush my teeth pretty much every day, which for many people just comes naturally.
But I am so much more than the struggles I go through. In the past 5 years since beginning my blog I have:
- Graduated from uni with a 2:1
- Applied to, interviewed for, and successfully got 8 jobs (I have an interview for a ninth!)
- Met, fell in love with, and moved in with my best friend
- Travelled to many places in the UK including; Cardiff, York, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Hereford, Ipswich, Norwich, Glastonbury, Weston Super Mare, Reading, Portsmouth, Birmingham, and Brighton (not an exhaustive list just some highlights!)
- Moved half way across the country and back again
- Spoken at many events, including on stage at the Olympic Village in front of over 700 people
- Volunteered with charities such as Young Women’s Trust, Youth Employment UK, and V Inspired
- Won an award for my volunteering work
- Made lots of new friends – many of whom I consider my best friends nowadays
- Reconnected with, and strengthened existing friendships
- Met my niece who was born last year
- Given two real world workshops about wellbeing, self-care, and confidence to real people – which has been one of my dreams for a really long time
- Eaten lots of great food, danced all night (on numerous occasions), talked for hours about life and love and happiness, laughed, cried, and made so many memories
- Continued living, and had happiness despite my biggest fears after my Mum died
It’s safe to say that I’ve come a long way. The problem is that I don’t appreciate that enough, I spend so long worrying or focusing on the things going wrong, that I get lost in the struggles. I need to be a little gentler with myself. I’ve been through a lot, as documented in this blog, and I’m only just now in a bit of a settled place personally for the first time since I was a kid. So I am allowing myself to stumble, to not be ‘perfect’ and to try again. I’m also going to more consciously acknowledge my successes and wins, the positive happy things in my life.
With this in mind, I’m looking to write more this year, and I’ve already written a few blog posts last month to start. I want to share my struggles openly, so if anyone is going through something similar, they know they’re not alone. I want to show that anyone can be struggling, but also that you can follow your dreams and overcome obstacles. I was so busy focusing on surviving for so long that I didn’t stop to appreciate the good things, or learn how to be happy. Now is the time to change that.
I am beginning the next chapter of my life, making a big effort to be healthy, happy, and well. I’m taking some time to figure out what that means to me, and will be coming up with an action plan for moving forward. I’m going to figure out my priorities, what happiness means to me, and how I can really live those priorities and values every day. I’m doing reflecting, searching, and thinking about what I really want, and what I can give to the world. Then I’m going to really live who I am. It’s exciting, and I’ll be bringing my blog along for the ride.
Who knows where I’ll be 5 years from now?
Watch this space…