2016 is almost universally acknowledged as a bad year. Many people were lost, violence seemed to front every news story, and newspaper headline and the identity of some nations were changed, possibly forever. However, there were also good things that happened in 2016: A ban was placed on plastic micro-beads, the giant panda is no longer an endangered species, and dumping buckets of ice water onto the heads of celebrities, friends and family members helped to fund a huge breakthrough in ALS research. And there were also so many other amazing discoveries and changes that occurred during the year. As well as global positives there are also personal positives that I don’t want to forget as we move further into 2017.So, if you’ll forgive me for a somewhat self-indulgent post, I would like to document these here. I want to keep them somewhere where I can be reminded, inspired and reassured by the things I achieved. Maybe these are similar to things you achieved in 2016, perhaps they inspire you to try something similar in 2017, maybe you achieved other things in 2016. Let me know down in the comments, and we’ll remember the positive and happy times had in 2016.
- I completed my second year of university – I had been told by a number of people that second year was challenging, and mine was no exception. It was the year I really struggled to find the motivation to attend my lectures, finish my assignments, or even leave my room. I had a very toxic experience with some of my housemates who came very close to breaking me BUT, I got through it. I earned a 2:1, and learnt a lot about myself, my relationship with people and I even grew myself a bit of a backbone. A big lesson for me was that sometimes it’s okay to put myself first, thinking of my well-being, my feelings, my future, and that sometimes confrontation and awkwardness is required for a situation to change.
- I stayed and worked in London for a week on my own – My week at HarperCollins was a fantastic one, it is something I will never forget, but that week was so much more than just working at a publishing house (although there’s really no ‘just’ about it). It was also the week that stayed on my own in London, walked to work and back by myself and overcame obstacles (the lift broke so I had to find an alternative route which for someone with visual spatial difficulties and almost no sense of direction is very stressful) by myself. I took a taxi across central London by myself, attended a party that was so out of my league, asked the appropriate questions to make sure it was feasible by myself. This my sound like a big deal out of nothing but as someone who lives in a tiny village, had never taken public transport by herself before university (and even that is only campus to bus station and back again), had never even booked a taxi before, it was a very big deal. I sincerely hope I never forget the sense of accomplishment I felt each and every day.
- I went to Paris without Mum or Dad – Aged 22, I went on my first ever holiday with a friend instead of my parents, to Paris. I was incredibly anxious, so much so that I came ridiculously close to ringing her, the night before departure, and telling her I wasn’t going – couldn’t go – how glad I am that I didn’t. It wasn’t without it’s hiccups; the train to London was delayed so we missed the Eurostar that we had tickets for, there seemed to be a distinct lack of disabled toilets and I definitely didn’t pack for, or anticipate how hot it was going to be – one day, at 6pm it was 37 degrees! But it was marvellous. We went to the Eiffel Tower (something to tick off the bucket list), The Nortre Dame, The Louvre, and saw the Mona Lisa, and generally just soaked up the Parisian atmosphere whilst sweating like only a tourist could.
- I attended the Bath Children’s Literature Festival and the Bath Book Bash – Out of all of these this is probably the smallest deal, but it is still an accomplishment. I attended both of these events alone which in itself took some guts as I knew it was very likely I wouldn’t know anyone. Also, while they both took place in Bath, and were on the bus route, the venues were places I had never been before. Because of the wheelchair I like to know that there is a disabled toilet, a lift, a place I can ‘park’ without being in anyone’s way, and while I did ring both places to find out as much as I can I did feel as though I was entering slightly blind. I was particularly nervous about the Book Bash. I am neither a publishing student or someone in the publishing industry (yet!) and whilst I had been assured that I was more than welcome to attend I immediately envisioned myself being out of place (I was wrong – everyone was exceptionally lovely!). What’s more, I would either need to walk through town, cross a few roads and navigate a bumpy pavement, in the dark on my own, or get off the bus at a stop I had never even really acknowledged before. With promises from my housemates that I could message at any time and repeating the instructions of where to press the bell, and where to go after leaving the bus, I decided to try the latter option. It was so simple! Then, I had to locate the publishers in the pub. Having arrived a little early and having next to no idea what anyone looked like, this was a little bit trickier, particularly since the disabled entrance is the opposite end to the main entrance. For a while I did hide in the disabled toilet and hoped really hard that they weren’t upstairs. They weren’t, and they were welcoming and lovely. The next one is at the end of this month and I cannot wait to learn more about books, the industry, gain and share recommendations and generally just have a friendly book-focused evening.
These are just a few of the wonderful things I did during 2016. While it may not seem like much, I am proud of myself for all that I achieved, accomplished, worked through and realised last year. I really hope I can remain positive and motivated so that 2017 brings even more accomplishment and growth. Thank you to all those who helped me, put up with me, and who continue to stick by me; including you who read these posts, let me know how your 2016 was, what you hope to achieve in 2017, or just say hello.