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2017 in hindsight

by M

Every year I try and reflect back on the past 12 months and write about it. In 2014 I wrote a paragraph or two about some of the highlights of the year, in 2015 I wrote a long text and in 2016 I didn't write at all, even though I meant to - I just realised I had nothing nice to say. But it was exactly* 4 years ago today I wrote a post called Dear 2013, and it was that post that I went back and read earlier today in order to find some inspiration for this. Because in many ways 2017 is the heir to 2013's legacy; and it was undoubtedly the happiest year since then.


The year was off to a different start: a month and a half of school break which I filled with different experiences - an impromptu trip to Paris, watercolours, learning how to sew and kicking off my driver's license lessons. The first half of the year saw me running back and forth between Lisbon and here. I found myself growing closer and closer to my uni friends back there, with that bittersweet feeling you have when you know you'll be leaving soon... But we enjoyed Spring in the capital to the fullest. Lunches and beer at the park, nights out, ice cream after class, beach days, sunsets by the river and that one time we literally ran away from a class which had barely just started to go sunbathe downtown. Through alleyways and cobblestone sidewalks, tube and train rides, mornings spent at Starbucks and nights that ended after the sun had risen, 2017 had me falling head over heels for that city and its light. But we were doomed from the start, Lisbon and me. So by June I packed all my stuff and left; my room and my tiny office stripped of all things me, the place which I called home for 9 months and knew I wouldn't be that ever again. So I came back home and got ready for a Summer filled with lasts and goodbyes. I tried to be with my friends as often as possible and that came with some disappointment and some good surprised alike. I couldn't have possibly known that Lara—the closest friend I had for the past 3 years—would let me go just like that and a 5 minute goodbye, nor that it would be Rachel, at last, that would hold me as I sobbed, just a few days before leaving. I made sure to go ride as much as I could, counting down the days I still had at the barn. The place where I usually felt the most at ease became laced with the anguish of farewell. Many tears were shed, but at least I know I was the best rider that I could've possibly been. Riding wasn't the hardest goodbye, it was the longest see you soon, because I still don't know when that soon is.


If there's one thing that 2017 brought me was growth, in its purest way. Growing is letting go of people and things that hold you back. It's making friends and meeting new people, and becoming more understanding and tolerant through that. It’s forming opinions and holding values and learning to stand up for those. Growing is doing laundry and cleaning the toilet, but it's also teaching your brain how to be alone with yourself. Growing is finding home 300 or 1600kms away from home, but first and foremost within yourself. It’s learning how to accept yourself and be proud of the things that make you, you, flaws and all. It is learning to honour my feelings instead of avoiding them. Growing is finding out that things aren't neither ephemeral nor everlasting, but somewhere in between. They come and they go and what is truly important is making the most while they're here—and not holding grudges if they end. Growing is learning to be grateful and forgiving, and finding out that those are the things that bring you ease. It’s understanding that things you love the most make for the hardest battles. They’ll leave you bruised and bleeding, but they’re worthwhile. This year, I had to make hard decisions and I made them regardless of the shake in my hands, the knot on my throat and the tears in my eyes. Through sleepless nights and constant, persistent worrying I didn't let myself be caught up in self-doubt and the fear of unknown. And through it all there was a smile on my face and a spring in my step, because no matter how hard or how many goodbyes, I saw dreams come true. In a sense, growing was also coming back to myself. Putting things into perspective, prioritising the things that make me so intrinsically me. Like the maniac creative and the too-excitable equestrian and the weirdo—I gathered up all the versions of myself and become who I am through who I already was. And that’s when I found peace of mind and utter yet simple happiness.


In many ways, this was a transitional year. Back in January, I knew that 2017 would be a special one. The one thing I saw looking forward was that by the end of the year I might be living in London, my life turned upside down. And now, looking forward, I see… nothing. A completely blank canvas, a year that is starting unlike any other before—and that’s both terrifying and exciting. There are so many and so ambitious things I want for 2018, and if I’ll take anything from this past year is that if you want it enough they might just come true. And if nothing else, I’m just grateful for another first class trip around the sun.


Buckle up.


Here we go.


*I started writing this post December 30th

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