Twenty sixteen has, for the world, been like accidentally eating something that's been in the fridge for so long that you're not actually sure what it is anymore, over and over again, leaving a nasty taste in your mouth for days after.
But for me on a personal level, it's actually been one of the best years yet. As with every year as I get older, I keep learning so much about myself and what I want and need from life. This year has been a year of achievements, a year of exploring, and a year of finally feeling happy. Finally feeling content with myself and who I am, and also accepting the world around me.
I'm really looking forward to what 2017 brings as there will be some massive changes for me - a new job, more exploring, meeting new people. But for now, I'm quite content to sit in bed in my Christmas pyjamas, eating my body weight in Guylian chocolates, and reflect on the last 12 months. So here is a list of why 2016 has been so great for me:
1) I passed my finals
Now I look back, 2016 was actually quite a scary year for me as around 40% of my university degree was hinged on my final exams that I took at the end of my 4th year. I will never forget the night I found out that I passed. I was in Fiji with my two friends, on a little island called Beachcomber. It was 11pm at night and one of us checked our emails, and found that our results had been released early. We all ran to grab our phones, sat together on the sand cursing the slow internet and trying to open our emails at the same time. There was a moment when we all looked around at each other, clocked on that we'd all passed, and then we started screaming and hugging each other, and fell over into the sand. The rest of the night was spent celebrating with alcohol and dancing on the beach with other travellers that we had met a mere 5 hours earlier, but who were so happy for us too. Honestly, I know it may be sad, but that memory still gives me goosebumps and makes me smile whenever I think about it now.
2) I became a 5th year medical student
I guess this relates to the point above, but in late August this year I officially became a final year medical student. I have enjoyed 5th year so much since then - I feel like I have a lot more responsibility and help patients so much more than any year previously. I feel like I am a valued part of the teams that I have worked in and I have more free time in the evenings to relax, as I don't have any exams to revise for, so I also feel more sociable and relaxed. I'm looking forward to what the last 5 months of my final year at medical school bring!
3) I travelled the world
If you have followed my blog since the summer, you will know that I spent 9 weeks travelling various countries across the world with 2 of my closest friends. 4 countries, 3 continents: Fiji, Australia, Bali and Italy. I've also squeezed in a visit to Spain, Disneyland Paris and Berlin over the course of the year. And I really did have the time of my life. I met so many incredible people along the way who had such similar values to my own. I skydived, bathed with elephants, scuba dived, rode on a motorcycle, slept on a boat, danced on beaches, swam with the most amazing fish, cuddled a koala, had an infinity pool to myself, ate some incredible food, ate some questionable food, hiked a mountain, got really close to some whales, and so much more. And as the cliche goes, I learnt a lot about myself, my values, and what I want from life in the future.
4) I stopped taking my antidepressants
This has to be one of my biggest achievements of 2016. In October, on World Mental Health Day, I was officially told that I could stop taking my Citalopram, as my mental health was at a good enough level that I was able to cope without them.
5) I finally opened up about my overdose
On the same day that I stopped my antidepressants, I also wrote about my overdose (you can read the post here). It was honestly scarier than anything I had ever done before, even my finals or travelling to Bali on my own, as I was terrified about what people would think of me. But I had such good feedback on that post from friends, family and strangers, and I am so glad that I put it out there for everyone to read. It has definitely helped me come to terms with what happened, and accept it for the awful day that it was. I just hope it makes people that are struggling with their mental health feel less alone.
6) I made new friends
This year I feel like I have made more friends than ever. I have so many people in my phone that I know I could ring and they would come straight over to see me, no questions asked. I always have someone that I can call to just hang out with if I want to. I also feel like I have learnt a lot more about friendships this year - that you don't necessarily have to see someone that often to be friends with them; that I have different friends that I can go to about different problems; and the friends that will be there no matter what. Quite often, when I felt depressed in the past, I would never think that I was good enough to have friends. I would often believe that they only hung around with me because they felt sorry for me. But I now value myself so much more and know that this isn't true - they hang around with me because I'm a good friend and they enjoy being around me :) I think, as I've accepted myself more and more this year, I've also let other people in and allowed myself to trust them more. What a great subconscious idea that was.
7) I learnt what I want from the future
I made some pretty big decisions towards the end of this year, such as where I want my life to be based for the next couple of years, and how I want it to be. I think travelling over the summer really made me value what is most important to me - family, friends, dogs, food and fun. I'm really looking forward to starting working in 2017 so that I can finally feel like a proper adult, and I now know how I want my adult life to be.
8) I have had fun
2016 has been a year of so much fun. I have made so many memories this year, from cosy nights in to crazy nights out; funny travelling stories to laughing at home with my family. I'm smiling just thinking about some of my memories right now.
9) I have been happy
Out of this list, this point is the most incredible for me. Every year, my New Year's wish has been to be happy, and in 2016 I finally achieved this for the longest amount of time. I have had a couple of days where I have felt down (who doesn't?), but on the whole I have been so happy and content with myself and life. I have reached a place where I know who I am, and I like that person. I know what is important to me, and focusing on those things makes me happy. Sometimes, I take my happiness for granted. But most of the time I remember how it felt to be so very, very sad, and I can't believe how lucky I am to have come through the other side of such an awful period in my life.
Okay, so I may have a little tear in my eye because I feel so thankful and lucky for this past year.
2016, you've been a good'un.
Stop hating yourself for everything you aren't and start loving yourself for everything you already are.