First things first, Happy New Year!
Secondly, welcome to the new (& improved) Darwin & Gray.
Thirdly, here's a photo of me & Casper being bloody adorable from one of my favourite days out of 2016.
I guess it is true what they say about the older you get, the faster time goes and at the ripe old age of 24 I genuinely have no idea what happened to 2016. Last year was a total whirlwind that despite feeling somewhat down and out about a bunch of things I am now able to appreciate the lessons that the 'first time' experiences that slapped me in the face taught me. So 2016, you may have felt short but I learnt a hell of a lot that might strike a chord with you as well.......
Stop freaking comparing yourself to strangers on the internet, in fact....stop comparing yourself to other people full stop. It ain't healthy.
Try to not be too opposed to communicating with people via social media. I have established some pretty damn amazing relationships, all with thanks to the internet over the last year. Warning: For the handful of lovely and genuine people online there is about 100x the grade A dicks of the world on there too and their move is usually involving direct messages so take caution when they slide in there.
WORK YOUR DAMN BUTT OFF
I put my life on a complete hold to focus on my final 6 months at University at the beginning of 2016 (& damn right I should, it has cost me a pretty penny) but it practically sucked every ounce of life right out of me. Admittedly coming out with not only a masters degree but also the highest grade possible made every second completely worth it and graduating is potentially the proudest moment of my life so far.
Secondary moment of pride was being accepted into the NOTHS family, I'd be lying if I said that Darwin & Gray wasn't my baby so pitching it out to Not On The High Street was up there as one of the most terrifying moments of 2016 for me but all my effort, research and pure bloody passion paid off. YAY.
In short, if you want something....work hard for it otherwise what is the point?!
BUT HEY, GIVE 0% SOMETIMES
Working yourself into the ground or trying to impress everybody is never going to go well for you so every once in a while so just breathe, eat some cake and watch back-to-back shitty TV boxsets. It's okay, you don't have to tell anybody about these days.
GO WITH YOUR GUT
I wasn't going to write about this but it has played such a significant part in 2016 for me from start to finish that I couldn't really leave it out. I've had to make some pretty tricky decisions regarding my own state of happiness (I've discovered this to be such an important thing to focus on over the past 6 months in particular) and although minor bumps in the road happen and knock you off of the track I've actually figured out that following my gut instinct and listening to my own thoughts is key to releasing pressure. If I feel an uncertainty, maybe I am finding myself somewhat paranoid or anxious about a situation or I am simply questioning something more than I should then I now seek answers and avoid suppressing them. Be careful though as seeking answers can lead to you learning or being exposed to something that may hurt you but ultimately the truth does hurt sometimes.
ps. To go back to point 1, I now use social media to contact fellow creatives or small business owners for help and gain advice when I'm feeling overcome with 'I have no idea what I'm doing' mood swings with Darwin & Gray whereas I used to have this weird level of pride in which I HAD to figure things out for myself without seeking help.
IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?
Back in summer I took the plunge and headed out to California to stay with friends in both LA and San Jose, it was my first flight totally alone and although my anxiety went through the roof.....I freaking did it!! Following on from that trip I suddenly went on the train multiple times alone across the UK as well as another flight to LA and back, again totally alone which for those that don't know me is a massive deal! The world doesn't feel as big and scary as it once did to me and that's all down to biting the bullet and stepping outside of my comfort zone.
KEEP 'EM CLOSE
Over the years I have seen friends come and go, even family members too but right now at this very moment I feel so unbelievably content and appreciative of my close circle. I am by no means an easy person to deal or live with, I have weeks where I barely exist and I temporarily fall off the face of the earth when I'm obsessively working on a project and I think I'd take gold for the most extreme mood swings but I've come to learn who I would be ever so lost without. So shout out to my favourites who listen to my mumblings, my ideas and my (more often than not) stream of complaints. I'm surrounded by absolute gems, if you are as well then be sure to keep 'em close!
Tar 2016, you've been a good 'un