2011, more than any other year, was a year of contradictions for me.
This was the year I turned a quarter of a century, and when I was younger I assumed all 25-year-olds know everything and have their lives sorted… How wrong I was!
When I’ll look back at this year, my memories at first might be overcast with the sheer bleakness that dominated the news: more focus on the recession, more unrest around the wold, and a surprisingly high level of ignorance than I’d ever thought possible!
This year has been one of trying to stay strong in the face of horrible twists of fate for me. People I’d started to get used to having around left the country for new jobs or adventures. I took on a new challenges at work which I had never envisioned at the start of the year. And to top it all, many of my friends went through tough experiences that tried even my unfaltering optimism that good things DO happen to good people.
And as hard as this is to admit, I realised more than ever that seeing the best in people can come back to haunt you. People who I viewed as ‘not like the rest’ turned out to be more cowardly, selfish and hurtful than I’d ever thought possible, and if I’m honest this is the year more than ever that I’ve started to realise truly honest people are a rare breed. I also learnt that settling and overlooking deal-breakers in a man is never worth it, it’s plain self-harming! Allowing yourself to fall for someone you know isn’t actually good enough for you means you’re only setting yourself up for disaster further along the line.
This was also the year I travelled abroad four times, and I learnt so much from each experience! Berlin was intense in its raw cityscape, shattered from the violence of the past and yet it managed to impress upon me an unforgettable adventure in music, history and the brilliant sense of freedom that comes with living the life of a traveller, no matter how short the actual trip.
Valencia seduced me with its lush gardens, idyllic and uncrowded beach; the slow pace was just what I needed to confront me with the realisation that life doesn’t have to be as frantic and isolating as London would have you suggest.
Bali and its islands were diverse in their beauty and ability to blow you away. The Balinese people were so damn happy, and can you blame them considering how stunning their homeland is?!
Amsterdam, like Berlin, instilled in me a sense of fun and freedom so easily lost when your life is dominated by a 9-5 existence. Relatively small, the city did make me appreciate the London sprawl but I envy the lifestyle of late starts and nonchalant commutes cycling across cobbled streets.
As well as travels, I feel like I’m starting to realise what I want more from life than ever before. I guess that’s an inevitable part of getting older, but this I what I’ve learnt in 2011:
+ I need to have more faith in my ability to take on anything thrown my way.
+ I will always, always have the travel bug and need to succumb to it far more often than I already do
+ This year I’ve been deceived and lied to, pickpocketed, evicted and screwed over a few times, but I honestly believe bad times need to be experienced to appreciate the good.
+ Life doesn’t follow any logic and people aren’t as clear-cut as we’ve been led to believe. In essence, we really are all just a jumbling mass of molecules struggling to make sense of who we are and what we’re supposed to do with our short stay on this big chunk of rock!
+ Getting my phone stolen taught me that as a generation we’re so more reliant on technology than we ever admit to. And this also means that our whole social structure is to some event not even ‘real’ any more- the virtual world of the Internet plays a big role in shaping relationships with people and staying up to date with the lives of close ones. As a side note, these days social identity is as much about how we project ourselves online as how we act in social situations, and gives us all scope to judge and be judged.
+ When life seems to be mucking up at every choice you make, the one enduring thing you can truly rely on is your sense of self. All we really have is our own moods and whims to guide us through life and everything else is transient and unreliable.
I am both excited and apprehensive as to what could happen in the next twelve months, but am willing to give it a shot and make each experience my own