Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Looking Back On 2018: July to December

Alright, Part 2 of my round-up of this crazy year! Shall we continue?

- JULY -

July was a good one. It started with a trip down to Dawlish in the south of England for a get-together with my dad's side of the family, which may as well have been a trip to the south of France because of how beautiful the weather was! I went a bit mad with the Huji Cam filter around about this time, so the sea and the sky are extra blue in these pics. Love it!







And because I only really care about food, one of the highlights of the trip was trying a combo that my dad's work mate had recommended to him: clotted cream and ice cream. Surprisingly, it wasn't as sickly as I had expected, and it was a lovely way to cool down on such a hot day.




It was great to be in England while the World Cup was on TV. Since I have an English family, of course I was going to support the England team, but while that pretty much makes you an outcast in Scotland, it's highly encouraged in England. My entire extended family and I sat in the hotel lounge in front of the TV and watched one of the England games (I forget which one, but we won, so it must have been good!), and the atmosphere was incredible. There was no escaping the football mania - even the lifeguard signs at the beach were cheering on the team!


I made sure to piss off my friends as much as possible with all my 'it's coming home' talk, and a friend of mine (incidentally the same one who suggested the saucy alternative ending to Avengers: Infinity War) made a meme about it. I'm honoured.


One thing that (almost) ruined the wee holiday was the fact that our flight got cancelled (thanks, BMI), so we were forced to hire a car and drive from the south of England all the way back to Aberdeen Airport in the north-east of Scotland. Dad is a hero for doing all that driving. I kept myself occupied in the back of the car like an obedient child by doing some writing and snapping pictures along the way.



July was also a weird one in the sense that I was working full-time, and that was essentially my life. This wasn't just a transition period between one year of university and the next, not just a temporary job until I could scuttle back to Dundee again. Nope, it was my life. It meant that I spent a lot of time looking back over my university journey and reminiscing.


I didn't go to the cinema many times in 2018 (something that I need to rectify in 2019 by getting some sort of cinema pass), but one film that I just HAD to see was Incredibles 2. It was everything that I hoped it would be, and being a huge Disney Pixar nerd, I loved it to bits, so much so that I even posed in the little cardboard cutout in the cinema lobby like the child I am. 


July was pretty much a month of self-care and outings and getting my act together in terms of health. I lost about a stone in weight, and I was more confident in my body than I had ever been. My folks and I spent a lot of time together whenever we all had a day off, taking trips up to Spey Bay on the Moray Coast, Haddo House for evening walks, and up to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, which I enjoyed much more than I thought I would thanks to a room full of lights and mirrors that made me feel like I was tripping.












- AUGUST -

Three words: New York City!! I've already written many blog posts about our trip to the Big Apple, but I'm still going to share my favourite pics from the holiday, including travelling in business class on the outward flight, visiting the September 11th Memorial & Museum, walking around the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and buying a pair of Tiffany earrings in the iconic store on Fifth Avenue. I'll never forget it. I'm still amazed that my parents managed to keep it a secret for so long!















- SEPTEMBER -

September was probably the toughest month of the entire year. As I write this list of things that have happened to me this year, I realise that so many great things have happened, and that I should be very grateful and very happy for everything that I have been lucky enough to experience. But underneath everything, there has been this undercurrent of unhappiness, like there is a void that needs to be filled, and in September, those negative feelings finally rose to the surface. I was fed up with everything, and I felt awful for it, because what did I really have to be unhappy about? I had a full-time job, parents who had taken me back in after studying away from them for four years, supportive friends...hell, I had just come back from a holiday in New York! Surely I should have been happy, and I felt incredibly guilty that I wasn't. And it wasn't even anybody's fault: it was my brain being an evil little gremlin, and telling me that I was miserable. One Friday evening when I came home from work, I broke down in tears because I was fed up, and Mum suggested that I book a weekend in Dundee to take a break from the 9-5 grind. So, that night, I booked a night at the Malmaison hotel, and took the train down to my favourite city the next morning. 

I hadn't seen Dundee for several months, and it had gone through a total glow-up since I'd been gone! The new train station was complete, the V&A was about to open, and everything seemed more colourful and more impressive than it had ever been before. I didn't want to get on the train back home, and the second I was whisked out of the city, I started to miss it so much that it felt like a constant dull pain in my chest. I confessed these feelings to my best friend, and she told me that she reckoned I'd be back in Dundee by Christmas. She could tell how much I wanted to go back. I took up the challenge.












September was a month of difficult conversations and even more difficult feelings. I ended up writing a poem entitled '13 reasons why I stay', and plenty of concerned friends and family members got in contact with me to make sure that I was alright. In all honesty, I had no idea. I knew that I didn't want to actually die, but I didn't feel like I was doing enough to warrant staying alive. I just felt like I was in limbo, and that I couldn't do anything right. Of course, I've already written about all this, and I'd rather not go into it again because it really really sucked, but I will just reiterate that talking things out, as daunting a prospect as that may seem, will get you the help and the support that you need. Please don't keep things bottled up because it will just make things seem worse than they are. Your brain is your own worst enemy.


On September 15th, the V&A Dundee opened, and I wore my little badge that I had bought from the Flame Tree Café on my lapel that day to keep Dundee close to me. 



- OCTOBER -

I turned 22 in October. It didn't really feel like a birthday (which seems to happen the older you get, I guess), but it was a good day at work nonetheless. October was also the month that I tried to reinvent myself for the hundredth time, and that meant that it was time for a dramatic haircut. For the first time in years, I found myself sporting a pixie cut, and I'm so unbelievably glad I did it. You'll never know how hassle-free life can be until you have short hair. It did mean that I spent a lot of time in front of the camera doing my best Cersei Lannister impression, but hey ho.




Since my best friend's birthday is only four days after mine, I went out to dinner with her and a bunch of her uni friends (most of whom I had never met before and whom I was nervous about meeting, but who were all super friendly!) and met up for a coffee with her the next day to exchange presents. A highlight was definitely the beautiful Primark eyeshadow palette that performs surprisingly well on the eyes, a palette that she bought for me because she knows how much I love a good makeup bargain!



One thing that really cheered me up in October was starting art lessons. The taster session that I attended was probably my favourite of the entire block of lessons, and learning effective watercolour techniques was so much fun that I subsequently bought myself a load of watercolour supplies (just cheap ones, although hopefully I'll invest in better quality ones when I have the money and skill to do so) and tried my hand at watercolour painting at home. I'm so glad to have found a new hobby that's incredibly relaxing and very rewarding when you feel like you've actually created something aesthetically-pleasing. Drinking herbal tea and playing with watercolours became a part of my life.





I was asked by the owner of a local art gallery and framing store if I would like to help with promotion for an upcoming event. They are currently organising an art fair in Dundee at the Caird Hall which (shameless promotion time) is taking place on the 24th, 25th and 26th May 2019, and they wanted me to help out since I love social media and, of course, the lovely city of Dundee. I was super excited at the prospect and said I would help out in any way I could. I agreed to work at the gallery on Saturdays, reducing my hours at my coffee shop job. It was my chance to be part of something big.


I was keen to get into bullet journalling, and began to map out a 'year in pixels' grid in a new dot-grid notebook. The concept is as follows: every day for a whole year, you keep a track of your mood by filling in each grid with a colour as indicated by a key, and at the end of the year, you will be able to see what the predominant mood was throughout the last twelve months. I hope I'll be able to fill out my bullet journal for the entirety of 2019, and I've also started a period tracker, a habit tracker for each month, and plenty of other stuff. 


October also brought another opportunity for me to head down to Dundee, and this time, I managed to visit the newly-opened V&A with a friend. Surprisingly, I was a little underwhelmed by what I found inside, although I maintain that the outside is stunning. Being in Dundee once again felt like home, and I felt like I became unapologetically 'me' again, wearing a weird lipstick colour and sitting around in a coffee shop, writing poetry. Bliss.




Once again, I found myself home alone - my parents were off on another getaway, and they left me notes for each day of the week, reminding me to put the bins out and assorted other tasks. On the Thursday, however, they couldn't think of anything, so just reminded me to have a good day off. So cute!


And just because I wanted to get into the Halloween spirit at the tail-end of the month, I dabbled in liquid latex makeup and became a devil in disguise. It was the first time I'd ever tried it, so I was pretty much just following Instagram tutorials, and those don't really prepare you for how strong the latex actually smells. Sheesh.



- NOVEMBER -

We kicked off November with a get-together at a family friend's home, where there was a stunning firework display and plenty of marshmallows to toast over a wood fire. No alcohol for me because I was driving, but it was fun nonetheless! I had gone off alcohol anyway ever since my bout of labyrinthitis; I didn't want to feel any dizzier or more nauseous than I already did. 


It was also my first day at my second job at the gallery, and I found myself nervous but also excited (hence the 'omg i'm screaming' emoji in the snap below). However, I didn't end up lasting long in the new role. Long story short, I was offered a full-time job at the gallery and accepted, handing in my notice at the coffee shop, but soon realised that, by taking another job in the same town, I would just be stagnating more and more in life, not being able to move out of my parents' home because of ridiculous living costs in the area, and earning the same amount of money. As great an opportunity as the new job was, I told them that I had had a change of heart: I wanted to move back to Dundee, and although I would still help with the preparations for the art fair in any way I could once I was settled, I simply couldn't stay in Aberdeenshire any longer. I'm very fortunate that the owners of the business are the sort of people who preach following your dreams, and they advised me to get on the next train down to Dundee and start my new life. And that's essentially what I did.





But until then, there were still art classes to attend and my last few days at the coffee shop to get out of the way. As anxious as I was about the hasty decisions that I had made, I was calmed down by concentrating on my paintings and by the support of everybody around me. 









This was also the month that I wrote my most popular poem of the year. It was inspired by one of the more risqué Instagram challenge prompts, but personally, I think it sounds more romantic than sexy, and plenty of others seemed to like it like that! It's the only one of my poems that showed up on my Instagram Top 9, so make of that what you will. 


I genuinely think I went a bit mad in November, or at least started living out a very VERY late 'teen rebellion' phase. Stage 1 of this phase was getting my first ever tattoo - a cute little ampersand on my right forearm, a.k.a. my writing arm. I've always had a thing for ampersands, and they are hugely symbolic of both continuation (there is always an 'and') and a 'broken infinity', of nothing truly lasting forever. I'm so glad that I got it done, and it wasn't as painful as I had anticipated, which surprised me! I thought I would have been squirming the entire time, but nope! 



Stage 2 was dyeing my hair for the first time in what felt like forever. I had been blonde for too long and I needed a change, so I went for red in an attempt to feel more badass. I was getting major Black Widow vibes whenever I looked in the mirror, and I loved it. If only I had Scarlett Johansson's face as well as the hair...



Both of my parents turned fifty this year, and while I didn't get many photos of the surprise party that was arranged for Mum back in April, I got plenty of photos from my dad's 80s-themed party in November. Or at least, I got plenty of selfies. An 80s party called for an 80s palette, after all, and I'd just bought the I Heart Revolution Now That's What I Call Makeup 80s eyeshadow palette. Not the best pigmentation, but such a great selection of colours.



- DECEMBER -

The twist-ending of the year! I began my mission to get back to Dundee, taking a train down on December 2nd to search for jobs and flats. I was in the city for around five days, and in that time, I put down a deposit on a flat and got offered a job! It was ridiculous, and there were moments when I was almost crying from stress and pressure, but it was all worth it in the end!







I was home for a few days before I moved into my new place, and in those few days, my dad and I sold my car, and I packed up my room. It felt totally bizarre.


On December 12th, I both moved in to my new flat in Dundee's West End and started my new job. I only lasted a week or two in the job since I ended up not enjoying it at all, but the flat has been fine so far, with any major issues being sorted within a few days! I still haven't got WiFi or a smart meter, but those things are on their way. 


It was a month of firsts, and one of those firsts was building flatpack furniture. I managed to build a bed frame and a clothes rail with my own two hands, and they haven't fallen apart yet, so that's got to be a good sign, right? Also, I bagged myself a total bargain with the adorable little blue couch in the photos below. I snapped it up when it was reduced to just £10 in a charity shop, and I couldn't be happier with it!







I was fully prepared to spend Christmas alone as I had no idea whether or not I would be working on Boxing Day, but since I had Christmas Eve off and was only working from 1pm on the 26th, I had a small window of time that I could spend with my folks. I spent Christmas Day in my family home, enjoying my mum's delicious Christmas dinner as always, and my dad drove me back to Dundee the next morning with a bag full of presents and bellies full of turkey. 






For the second year running, I spent New Year's Eve in Dundee. I got a last-minute invite to a 1920s-themed murder mystery night at a friend's flat, and it turned out to be great fun! I'd never been to anything like it before, but it was fun having a few drinks and trying out a funny accent for my character! As the clock struck midnight, I was standing in Dundee's City Quay, looking out over the river and feeling like everything would be okay. 

And that's it for 2018. It was a bizarre year that brought so much change my way, and for that, I'm so grateful. But I'm also glad to see the back of the anxiety and depression and self-loathing that I had felt creeping up on me throughout the year, undermining my achievements and making me feel small. Screw you, negative feelings. I achieved so many things in 2018, and I want 2019 to be even better. I want 2019 to be a do-over: a year full of achievements and great times like 2018, but without the self-doubt and low self-esteem. 

Wishing everybody all the best for 2019. Hope it's everything you want it to be and more!
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