2016: A Year in Review

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2016 is definitely up there as a contender for the best year of my life; It has marked some pretty amazing events and achievements, cemented some of the best friendships, and marked some amazing experiences. That being said, it wasn't without it's imperfections: there were bad days, bereavements, and lots of upsetting or stressful days, but part of what I have learnt this year is that bad things are going to happen, no matter how much you try and stop them or wish they didn't, and the only thing you can do is pick yourself back up and carry on... But enough about the negatives, this post is here to celebrate the positives of 2016.

Looking back to this time even just two years ago I find it hard to believe how much my life has changed, and looking at this time four years ago is practically like looking back at the life of a completely different and unrelated person. I have gone from studying at Art school, hoping to pursue a career in animation, thinking I would live and work in London for the rest of my life, to moving back up North, meeting some of the best friends I have ever had, studying towards a degree in something that I love, reinstating my health, and actually being happy. Some of the choices I have had to make over the past few years were not easy, but now I can confidently sit here and say that it was these struggles, revelations and changes that have come to play a part in making me the person I am today.

1. January - The start of a year is always a difficult one for me, as there is a general consensus that our successes and failures within this month determine the outlook that you approach the rest of the year with... for ten years running, January has been a month riddled with deadlines and exams, but one to view with positivity knowing how many amazing experiences I had lined up for the rest of the year.

2. February - A month of celebration: for pretty much every weekend in February I was partaking in one romantic activity or another with Ant - he treated me to a 'fake valentines' spa day on the 7th, surprised me with 21 (our lucky number) perfect red roses on Valentines, and then celebrated his birthday with a spa day from me.

3. March - The month I turned 22. It was a weird birthday for me... it felt strangely 'grown up', no more teenage years or 'big celebration' birthdays now until I hit 30... However, it was definitely one of my best birthdays to date. In the past, I've experienced a few birthdays that bring back nothing but awful memories, but this year it was amazing to once again be reminded that there are lots of people who truly care about me and made it a very special day.

4. April - The UK Blog Award Finals - I am still in absolute disbelief that my blog was awarded Highly Commended - to me it is still surreal that these posts that I write on my macbook, more often than not whilst sat on my bed, are actually being read and appreciated by so many people out there! The night was, and probably always will be one of the best of my life.

5. May - I took a girly trip away to Majorca with my mum. We did yoga outside and had the most amazing spa day while we were there. This was my first month of 'freedom' after completing my university placement, so it felt really special to finally be able to relax and enjoy some me time.

6. June - This month involved another Majorca trip, and lots more relaxation and me time. It was in June that I finally learnt to relax again, and felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. This was probably the first month where I realised that worrying and stressing will not change what is meant to happen. 

7. July - July marked another trip to Majorca, this time with my whole family and Anthony. We had such an amazing time on our first holiday together, enjoyed yoga classes, spa days, amazing food and lots of sunbathing. This month was special to me, as I was so happy to see both me and Ant fully relaxed for what felt like the first time in months and months.

8. August - You guessed it... another holiday... but this time a girly trip with my mum, her best friend and her daughter. We had another incredible spa day to celebrate Hayley's 21st birthday, had lots of late night girly chats and made so many memories to treasure. Hayley has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, so it was so lovely to be able to celebrate her birthday in such a special way.

9. September - The Maldives. WOW. There isn't much more I can say about how truly amazing this holiday was. Me and Ant made so many memories, enjoyed so many incredible activities and just felt like we were surviving in an absolute paradise. From paddle boarding to snorkelling to dolphin trips to shark feeding to the most amazing sweet potato fries and smoothies you've ever tasted - absolutely everything was perfect.

10. October - Back to reality and well into the swing of things with my final year of university. These months were a bit of a struggle... I found it surprisingly hard to readjust to being back at university after a year working on placement, and found the long commutes incredibly draining. Luckily for me I had the most supportive boyfriend, family (and lots of peanut butter) to help me through.

11. November - In November I got to meet the newest addition to the family - Poppy Florence Smith, and spent a lot of time with family. The beginning of November was quite a difficult time for my family, but it just makes you appreciate even more how important they truly are. (Oh, and I bagged myself my dream graduate job for next year!)

12. December - Breaking up from uni for Christmas, attending lots of Christmas meals and events with great friends and family members put the cherry on the top of another amazing year. As I sit and write this on Christmas Eve (an ominous pile of books and revision looming on the desk behind me), I remember the importance of time off. Christmas only comes round once a year, and it's so very important to spend these days with the people who mean the most to you.