A year ago, when the internet decided to take stock of 2016, there was one phrase that seemed to come to mind: dumpster fire.
And it’s easy to understand why.
But while there was definitely something distinctly dumpster-fire-like about 2016 as a whole, my personal life thankfully had a different tone. For me, 2016 was the year of saying “yes” (or more accurately, part of what I could call a biennium of saying “yes”), as I pushed outside of my comfort zone, expanded my blog, co-hosted a radio show, learnt to dance, spent my time writing for newspapers, online magazines and geek culture publications and attended conventions.
2017, meanwhile, is harder to categorise (whether as a dumpster fire or otherwise).
The main word that comes to mind when I think of 2017 is busy. In 2017, the Computer Science masters course I unexpectedly embarked on took over a majority of my time (9 months of 2017, to be precise), and my new job has engulfed the rest.
I guess in a sense, 2017 was the year that real life caught up with me.
So, what exactly happened in my life this year? Well…
After a whirlwind year of intensive learning, head-scratching and a not insignificant amount of sweat, earlier this month I graduated from my masters with a distinction! After working hard all year, this was a pretty sweet payoff, and all the better for the fact I was able to do it with some of the people who made my year great. I got to know some wonderfully geeky people over the course of the year, and had a fantastic summer involving pizza, ice creams, and tabletop games, which was definitely a highlight of my year (so thanks guys).
And even when summer ended and the ice creams stopped flowing, September brought more excitement. I started a new job (the first I’ve ever had on a full-time basis) as a cyber security analyst, which is something that until this year I never expected to be doing, and which I absolutely wouldn’t change. I’m incredibly privileged that I’m able to do something that consistently interests and challenges me.
In the same month as starting my new job, I moved from Birmingham to London, something I’d flipped between wanting and then wanting to avoid, finally settling on wanting. This, I think was probably one of the best (and certainly biggest) decisions I’ve made. And boy, am I enjoying exploring London.
Outside the space of big life decisions, 2017 was the year of being both an introvert, and at times a bit of a workaholic. I’d spend most of my day studying for my masters, before retiring in the evenings to read books, play video games, and watch TV. For a good portion of time, I was drained. I’ve also spent time this year living in a place I didn’t feel comfortable, feeling exhausted, and at times, isolated. The low points were few and temporary, but they were there.
Meanwhile, I’ve written more blogs than ever before this year, at some points, turning out two or three blog posts each week, somehow juggling this commitment alongside my university work. Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it.
In some ways, 2017 has been the year of gaining some perspective. After a routine operation last December led me to collapsing from blood loss and going into emergency theatre the day before Christmas Eve, I realised that even spending the holiday period bedridden, in pain and barely able to eat (as a foodie, this was by far the worst part of the experience) wasn’t the end of the world.
And the three months of low energy, iron supplements, and frequent napping to recover even nipped some of my perfectionism in the bud – at least temporarily. Once my physical health was at stake, I learnt to relax and look after myself and not to sweat the small stuff. Once you’ve been carried down the stairs by paramedics, programming doesn’t seem quite so scary anymore.
Of course, perspective rarely lasts, and now I’m back to throwing a tantrum each time Netflix starts to buffer. But hey, I tried.
And somehow, amongst all this, 2017 was the latest step in filling as much of my time as possible with things I love. A major highlight of my year was attending my first YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) in July, when I spent three exceptional days geeking out over books with some awesome people.
I met one of my favourite writers, Victoria Schwab, told Sara Barnard how much A Quiet Kind of Thunder meant to me, I thanked Wil Wheaton for helping me to embrace who I am, and perhaps most importantly, I existed for a brief moment mere inches from Benedict Cumberbatch.
2017 hasn’t been the perfect year for me (nor for the world at large, but that’s a subject I can barely scratch the surface of), but it has been filled with things I’ve loved, that I’ve learnt from, and that I’m proud of. Between work, blogging, and my personal life, I feel like I’m headed in the right direction, and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings.
If you’re reading this, I hope you’ve had a fulfilling 2017, and wish you all the best for 2018, filled with geekery, excitement, and maybe even a Cumberbatch or two.