2018 vs. 2019 – Honest Reflections n Realistic Goals

by Maddie
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Let’s set the scene: it’s 6pm on 1st January 2019 (canny believe I’m saying this) and I’m cosied up in my bedroom. The fairy-lights are a’twinkling, because I’m refusing to let go of the interior-side of the festivities just yet, my hair’s scraped off my face in that cba-to-make-effort bun, I’m wearing the COMFIEST and cheapest leggings known to man (thank u Primark) and lying in front of me is my 2019 diary. Festooned with a star-print design, with ‘2019’ emblazoned across the front in impossible to miss gold lettering, this diary is yet unopened, screaming endless possibilities and a good dose of naive hope for the year ahead.

Opening a new diary and planning out sketchily the year, whilst planning in detail the next couple months that lie before me, is something I do every single 1st January, without fail. Each year, I’m filled with unbridled hope and joy for the unknowns that are ahead. I know this might very well make me an absolute weirdo, but I adore New Year’s more so than Christmas. There’s a certain optimism in the air that we fail to produce during other months, and it feels as if the possibilities are endless.

However, one thing I’ve realised throughout 2018 is that this optimism is something that might ebb and flow during the year, and that it’s okay to feel a lil pessimistic from time to time. Not everything will be perfect, and the weird high-energy we feel at the beginning of a new year is partly deserving, and partly a lil white lie. But nonetheless, I absolutely revel in this optimistic energy, and start each new year with a new surge of productivity and positivity. And that’s nowt to be ashamed of!

2018 was a good year, but it definitely had its downs. What I find incredibly strange to have found in 2018 is that often, positive achievements and major milestones don’t always equate to your mindset and head space. In 2017, I’d say that was a hella more positive year for my achievements: I secured an internship with Heat Magazine in London, I embarked on some incredible holidays abroad for which I am very lucky to have had, and my grades were considerably better than in 2018. However, I spent the majority of 2017 dealing with anxious thoughts and low moods, I reached out for counselling and I didn’t feel a happy bean for most of the year.

Whereas in 2018, whilst I’ve still accomplished things I’m incredibly proud of, it’s felt a lil less ‘successful’ than its preceding year. And by defining ‘success’, I mean in terms of work experience and academia. My grades in my second year slipped slightly to my first year (although I was still perfectly happy with them) I secured some awesome work experience, but in local organisations and not national ones, and I spent my summer holidays being less than productive. However, I have generally felt better mentally- feeling a hella more happy than in 2017.

And I think that’s something to take into 2019 with me: success and achievements does not always equate personal happiness. And sometimes running yourself to the ground for the sake of accruing more ‘achievements’ isn’t something to prioritise. Your happiness and well-being always should come first.

So with that, let’s think about some goals imma be setting myself for 2019.

Now, before people roll their eyes and stop reading because ‘goals’ must therefore equate to something unattainable and something imma fail to stick to after the January fake-optimism, let me just say that imma be keeping things REALISTIC here. No ridiculous ‘OMG 2019 WILL JUST BE THE BEST YEAR YET’ or ‘NEW YEAR, NEW ME’- let’s just be frank about all of this.

Time is a concept we have literally invented just to keep our lil pea brains from explodin’ at how unfathomably uncontrollable this world is, and 2019 will just be another 365 in the many we experience on this planet. Nothing revelatory; we are the same people. However, there are some things that the time concept has allowed me to understand in the last 365 days and they are lessons I’ll be taking with me into 2019.

And it also goes without saying that the next 365 days just happen to be pretty massive for me- not because it’s ‘another year’, but because somewhere in those hundreds of days I’ll be graduating, getting my first ever job and potentially moving to a new city. Some pretty crazy stuffs. So let’s keep things real and discuss REALISM for 2019, yeah?

Ease off on the whole ‘living for other people’ front

As much as I do not want to admit this, I’m a lil control freak.

I care ridiculous amounts for the people I love, and I want what’s best for them. So much so that sometimes I can find myself nagging at my boyf or sis about certain things I think they should be doing to benefit themselves, and I worry way too much about my loved ones, to the extent that I’ll often try to live for them. I think this stems from other unhappy past experiences, such as losing my Dad in 2016, and because of that I never want my loved ones to feel pain or unhappiness again. I just want everyone to be happy, in short.

But sometimes this has meant that I’m left unhappy, worn out, anxious or sad, because I’ve spent so much of my energy on others that I’ve ended up neglecting myself. I’ve learnt in 2018, just through experience and through counselling, that it’s okay to think about myself, and it’s okay to be a little selfish. It’s time for me to let go, slowly but surely, and think about me a lil more.

My counsellor once said something that really resonates with me, and it’s something I think we should all remember sometimes: in the safety talks on a plane, the air hostess will tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others, in the event of an emergency. This is because if you haven’t helped yourself first, you’ll be less effective helping others. You’ve got to make sure you’re in a good place yourself, so that you can then use the right amount of energy on others to make sure they’re okay.

This is something imma try and do in 2019- and I know it’s okay if I struggle to do this effectively at first. Nothing changes overnight.

Learn to enjoy the unknowns slightly more 

I got myself in a right tizz n a half around November, when panic set in about what the heck imma do with my life come graduation.

I have an idea of a career path, and the cities I’d love to live in- so I’m lucky to have a route I want to go down. However, having a concrete idea can often feel as terrifying as having no clue what to do, because the route can feel absolutely impossible.

I want to be a lifestyle journalist, but I have no middle-class family to support my low income in London, next to no contacts in the industry, and living in London on my ownio feels horrifying right now. Therefore, everything felt rather terrifying back in November.

But slowly but surely, I’m starting to realise that with a lack of grad schemes in the industry I want to go into, the reality is that I’ll be way past graduating before I can even start looking for jobs that begin in September, in cities that I want to move to. And to find somewhere to rent, I’ll be looking on Rightmove around a month before I move in, as such is the way with renting. Terrifying, I know- but an exciting challenge at that. And before November set in, I felt nothing but excitement at the prospect.

The unknowns can be wonderful, and life takes you on journeys you wouldn’t even have expected a few months prior, so I need to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Prioritise happiness over ‘success’ 

I touched on this earlier in the post, by saying that one thing 2018 has very much taught me is that ‘success’ does not always equate to a happy mindset.

Sometimes I work myself to the ground, because I have a desire to achieve the things I’ve dreamed of, but sometimes this leaves me burnt out, anxious and downright tired. And who wants to feel like that 24/7?! I’ve learnt to say no to some opportunities in 2018, and learnt to feel okay with passing up opportunities, and this is something I want to continue into 2019.

Getting the right balance between work and relaxation is incredibly hard whilst doing a demanding degree, so I’m looking forward to come May finishing university and having the chance to prioritise my well-being more.

Realise what success I would like, though 

I’m a compulsive list-maker, and I always love setting mini goals for myself. When I know what I want, I wanna go for it. Therefore it’s unrealistic to think that 2019 hits and I immediately stop trying so hard to achieve things I wanna. It just ain’t gon’ happen for this Virgo perfectionist. Therefore, I want to set myself some realistic goals for 2019, centered around both my work and happiness.

Firstly, I want to do well in my degree, after three years of working hard for it. Secondly, I want to celebrate by seeing the world: I want to get on holibobs to somewhere I’ve never been before. Thirdly, I want to keep this baby, my blog, going- and to devote more time to it once university has ended and I can have that luxury. Fourthly, I wanna get me a lil job, nothing that’s a step on the career ladder just yet, but something that still inspires me and allows me to save up money for a while, so that in a year or two I can either head and do a Masters in Journalism, or pop to London and begin my dream career there. These things take prep and money, and I’ve realised me dreams ain’t able to start overnight. And fifthly, I want to move to a new city, one of which I very much have in mind.

Let’s hope it happens- and if I don’t achieve all of these goals, I ain’t gon’ beat myself up ’bout it. There’s always 2020, eh?

Fill up dat glass a lil more 

When I get anxious, I immediately become perhaps the most pessimistic person you’ve ever met.

I’ve learnt not to beat myself up about that, because anxiety is something we can’t always control- it’s a flight or fight reaction our minds go through when we’re faced with stress. Nothing is permanent, either, and these anxious moods will pass to more positive ones again.

However, I know now that there are things I can do to control these moments- such as always thinking of the other reactions to situations I may find myself in. There’s always the glass half empty, or the glass half full approach to everything we encounter in life. And imma start reminding myself of the full glass more often!

Here’s to a 2019 that will still very much have its ups and downs, but imma hopeful that I’m able to counteract the downs more often with a lotta practice!

Feed ze soul w good nutrients pls 

A happy mind often equates to a happy, healthy body. And a happy, healthy body is proving better for the environment, too. So this next 365 days, I wanna be a lot more conscious about what I’m feeding my lil tummy. Cutting down my meat intake is something I definitely want to do, for personal benefits and also environmental benefits. Exercising regularly is difficult when my 9-5 is taken up by university work, leaving me exhausted at the end of the day. But imma make more effort to take more time for myself to exercise n feel happier.

If I find something I want, go get it – regardless of what other people would rather I do (to an extent, ya know) 

I guess this comes back to living for myself more, and not for others as much. Sometimes it’s easy to listen to what others you love might prefer for you, instead of sticking to your guns on something you know will make you happy. You know you, and when the decisions you’re making will have a life-changing impact on yourself, that’s when you know you’ve got to listen to your heart, rather than to other people’s brains, as much. And with many an important decision landing on me throughout 2019, it’s time to do moi.

Take time OUT 

I’m bladdy awful at relaxing. Absolutely the WORST.

I can’t remember the last time I watched TV, I take about six years to get through a Netflix series and I can’t remember the last time I read a book for enjoyment, and not because it was on my university’s reading list. I told my counsellor in one of my first sessions that my ‘relaxation’ consisted of this blog, and she genuinely laughed in my face. Because as much as this is something I am passionate about and something that’s a break from university, it’s not exactly the most relaxing thing to do. I need to learn to take time out more, and imma start by binge-watching the end of Gossip Girl. 2019 is the year to FINALLY find out who that mysterious blogger is.

No spoilers, pls.

Acknowledge the bad days, and let them happen 

As I’ve already mentioned, 2017 was the year I found out rather suddenly what it was like to be ‘anxious’. I’d never felt feelings of anxiety before, and when it came on, it came on rather hard.

I struggled a lot in 2017, and still have in 2018, although I do feel like I understood better how to cope with the onset of anxious feelings now. And I’m under no illusion, with or without the unbridled positivity of a new year, that 2019 will throw up similar challenges. I just wanted to acknowledge that here, now, in this blog post, just to make it bladdy clear that life does not ever just become ‘perfect’.

Yesterday, on New Year’s Eve, my Instagram feeds and stories were full of people looking over their ‘highlights’ and how perfect their 2018 had been. Which is all well and good, and it’s wonderful we’ve all had such wonderful memories to look back on, but no year is perfect. No one has just good days. And it’s acknowledging these bad days and letting them happen which makes our lives more content.

Live for NOW 

Ah, the present. What a beautiful moment.

This is something I’ve started to realise during the last 365 days. I’ve spent a lot of time either lamenting the past or panicking over the future that often I forget to just think about and live what I’m doing RIGHT NOW. And right now, Imma typing away on my lil computer, in my comfies, under the glow of a fairy-light, and I’m quite enjoying myself.

I know there’ll be bad days to come, things I’ve been through in the past still come to upset me, and the future few months (with mahoosive decisions to come) still bladdy well panic me, but right now is all we have. And right now, everything is just a’okay.

Here’s to 2019 and all it’s ups and downs people – enjoy ’em! xxxx


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