Somehow another year has crept up on us, how can it possibly be 2017 and where the hell did 2016 run off to?!
Perhaps the reason I am struggling to come to terms with the fact it is a new year is because last year was so freaking awesome! However, on reflection 2016 was particularly rubbish for the world. Countless well-admired and loved celebrities passed, a sickening amount of terror attacks on our beautiful planet, hate, crime, Donald Trump; generally its just a shite old year. Without disregarding these horrible events, we have to remember the good times. It is so easy to allow your mind to be absorbed by all this negativity, but unfortunately these things will happen, regardless of what year it is - we need to fight and keep our positivity high. If we don't, all we are doing is letting these demons win, and that is what they want.
For me, 2016 was probably one of the best years of my life to date. I mean this in the most sincere way possible, without bragging and showing off. Last year showed me a personal improvement in myself; my confidence, my frame of mind, and most importantly I re-evaluated my work and learned to love myself a little more. I was lucky enough to go on so many amazing trips, Austria, the French Alps, London, Cambridge, Thailand and Australia. Adventures with my favourite people to amazing Scottish locations, new tattoos, pink hair, parties, and new friends. I graduated and reached goals and places I never believed I could with my photography. And finally, best of all, I left my job (sadly of course!) and jetted off to travel with my best pal. Sure there were times that were a little bit poop, but all in all, 2016 was AWESOME! And now I have a whole year of adventure and new experiences to look forward to - if you haven't guessed I am feeling super optimistic and excited.
Saying all this, there is always negatives that come with the positives. With a new year, comes copious amounts of alcohol, lots of food, family, friend, resolutions; false promises to yourself (mine would be 'I'm going to stop eating chocolate'), cringe-worthy Facebook status' about how 2016 truly changed your life, I love my friends and family #newyearnewme #blessed, alcohol, this is my year, food, more alcohol, more food...well you get the idea. But why? Why do we insist on forcing these false ideas of the perfect new life upon ourselves. Why does the new year mean that we have to change ourselves, better ourselves, all in all becoming someone who isn't 'ourself'?
I have never made a solid New Year resolution. Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of people want to change their lives for very valid reasons, but that does not mean you have to force yourself to be a completely different person.
We all have an idea of what we think is perfection. I mean, I would DIE to look like Jennifer Lawrence. She. Is. A. Babe. She's funny, she's smart, she's talented, she has a banging body, who wouldn't want all of that? Yet in reality I do not know her at all. She is just a face I see on the computer. And for all I know she may wish that she looked like someone else, or did something else, or even had a normal life.
It is important to be realistic, and I think that is where a lot of us go wrong with our New Year Resolutions. I am no expert, but I'd like to think I have a little bit of sense in me. This post is going to be a little different, but I want to tell you all my '5 steps to happiness', or in other words, some realistic and important things I value or have gone out my way to achieve in life. It may not work for everyone, but I hope some of these might be helpful to some of you. So here goes nothing!
STEP ONE: Book that flight
Okay, so I bet you all saw this one coming; but seriously just book it! I may have only been travelling for a few months but I can hands down say it has and is turning out to be the biggest experience and life altering decision I have made to date. Even if you want to have a short trip, a long weekend, a day trip, it doesn't matter how long or how far, do it. We have all seen the cliche quotes, but travelling and seeing new cultures seriously does make you realise how fortunate you are. Not only that, but you learn so much you may have never known otherwise. I strongly encourage you all to take that trip.
James and I worked our butts off for months, a year even, to afford our trip. At the time it was repetitive and a little soul destroying, but now we can truly appreciate how worth it that time was. We were stuck in a cycle of work, sleep and repeat when all we really wanted to do was travel. So we did, and we love it. We have met countless amazing new people, friends and inspirational characters. We learned about different cultures and religions and we have seen so many beautiful things. All of which would not be possible if we hadn't booked that flight.
STEP TWO: Stop thinking 'what if'
I suppose this one links up to step one, but it is equally if not more important. For a long time I was too scared to bite the bullet and book my trip. The problem was, it is far too easy to think of all the things that could go wrong. And these factors will often heavily outweigh the positives. So stop thinking 'what if'. After all, how will you know unless you try? If we lived our lives thinking what if, we would do nothing. Crawl out of this negative cave and realise that even if things go wrong, there is a way around it. Always.
I struggled for a long time to believe in myself, and a lot of that fell down to the fact that I assumed the worst would happen in every situation. Learning to overcome this was hard, but taking it one step at a time I managed. If I still had this negative mind set, I wouldn't be travelling as I am today. Go to that party, wear that dress with those shoes, do whatever the hell you want. And if anything does go wrong, knowing that you tried is a very satisfying feeling.
STEP THREE: Learn to forgive and don't hold a grudge
This one is tricky, but I have found that it helped me a lot in the past year. I refer this point strongly to the sculpture "Love" by Alexandr Milov seen at the Burning Man festival 2015. The sculpture shows a male and female figure sitting back to back after a conflict. Inside these hollow figures we see two children facing one another, reaching out in love. The inner child in us all is desperate to communicate and forgive. As adults we hold such pride and resentment, convinced we are always right.
We need to learn to adopt this child like nature and stop being so stubborn. After all, what does the silent treatment really do? We fill ourselves up with so much hate and anger that it negatively effect us and our day to day in the process.
Learning to forgive and stop holding a grudge has been a very important learning curve for me. If you can do this, you will feel the positive impact it leaves.
STEP FOUR: Stop comparing yourself to someone else
This one I find the hardest but the most beneficial. Comparing yourself to others can be a toxic mind game, and unfortunately it is something that is an increasing pressure nowadays thanks to social media. We all do it, and to this day I still do; but sometimes taking a step back and giving yourself a bit of love is the best method.
I follow countless amounts of beautiful gals, boys, models and celebs on Instagram. I follow them for their amazing feeds, but sometimes it can be hard not to compare myself. Of course I want those long wavy locks, that tiny little waist and hourglass figure, and those green eyes, the amazing job and the 5 star hotel room. All this comparison in turn will make you feel shit. So stop. Be real, look at yourself in the mirror, look at the friends and family you have and see the beauty in it all. Pick out your favourite feature in yourself and love it.
STEP FIVE: Treat yourself and others around you
This one can be easily over done. When I got my first job I would blow all my wages in a few days. As I worked longer and harder I started to realise the value of money, and learned to save my earnings, so much so that I would feel guilty for buying myself small affordable items. Saving is good, but learn to treat yourself every once in a while. Award yourself for working hard or achieving something you've been working towards. Do not feel guilty about it. Knowing that you have worked and earned something feels good, and it's value is often increased by this small factor.
Something else that always makes me feel good is treating someone else. Whether that's taking your friend out for coffee, or buying someone a gift. If I see something that reminds me of someone I love, no matter how small, showing them that they are important to you can mean a lot more than you may think. Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone I love happy. Be sure to be selfless in times your loved ones need you. Seeing their reaction is your biggest reward.
These little things have proven to be extremely useful to be personally over the last year, and I feel they are something we can all easily adopt and pursue without the struggle of forcing ourselves into a new way of life. Sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest difference.