2013 was a bittersweet year for me. 'Emotional rollercoaster' is a cliche term usually only pulled out of the bag by people on reality TV shows, but for me, 2013 really has been just that - a complete mish-mash of twists and turns, ups and downs and highs and lows. 2013 kicked off on a bit of a low point for me. Having being rushed to hospital with a pretty nasty allergic reaction to Penicillin a few days before Christmas of 2012, it's fair to say that I spent the beginning of the year feeling a little bit wobbly and out of sorts. It was the catalyst for a whole bunch of other health problems and opened up what I can only describe as a shelf full of cans of worms. I won't go into the ins and outs, but I don't think I've ever spent so much time in a doctor's surgery or sat and had someone stab me with a needle so many times in my life. Of course, I'm aware I should count my blessings, and that I certainly did, but I can't help but feel that 2013 dealt me a slightly cruddy hand when it came to health and well being. Annoyingly so, this little spurt of health issues and worries bought my panic attacks and anxiety to the boil and I really was pushed to my limits this year. I ended up having to have a course of CBT sessions, something I never imagined I'd have to do again, but luckily I seem to be recovering from it all now. Couple all of this with a really horrible break-up earlier in the year and it's no wonder I spent a small portion of 2013 feeling less than chipper. However, I battled on through and although it's taken a good year to get this far, there's a lot of light at the end of the tunnel.
2013 has been one of the most successful years of my life to date. After working in retail full-time for a few years and feeling less than satisfied with my future career prospects, I took a snap decision in 2011 to go to university and study towards something I've always had an overwhelming urge to do - graphic design/illustration. It was a terrifying thought at the time - I gave up a lovely full-time wage, a secure job and a lifestyle I'd gotten completely used to for student loans and one heck of a lot of hard work. I can safely say I finally reaped the rewards of that scary decision this year. So much so, I actually quit working part-time in retail at the end of January (yep - I really did cut the cord and take away the safety blanket) so that I could fully concentrate on my new little path in life. I now have 2 internships under my belt and have a portfolio I can really be proud of. I wrote and illustrated my own children's book that proved to be a major success for me and I took the book, along with the rest of my portfolio, down to London with me in July where I spent a week exhibiting at the New Designers Show with the rest of my course - people who I can honestly say are real, true friends of mine and although I was going through a lot at the time (and felt pretty rubbish for the entire course of the week), it was still an amazing experience. I spoke to children's book publishers, swapped contacts with design agency's and possible future employers, and really got a grasp of what my future might hold. My work was picked up by a well-known design website and featured among 'the best of 2013's show' - and I also appeared on a couple of lifestyle blogs of people who had been to the exhibition and liked my work - which of course, being a blogger, made me extremely happy! Towards the end of this year, I found out I'm also being put forward to be part of an online Illustration Agency for 2014 - which if I manage to get in - would be an amazing little leg-up into my future career and could help with the whole 'between finishing uni and finding a job' thing. I can't believe how far I've come in the space of 1 year and I'm so excited for what the next holds. I don't know where I'll be or what I'll be doing this time next year - which is a scary but exciting thought - but I'm determined to make these final few months of uni really count towards something and I genuinely feel as if I'm actually, finally getting somewhere. Proof that a snap decision can change your life for the better. So anyway, onto the good stuff - my resolutions of 2014. Every year, we all make resolutions we can't keep. At least, I know I do. But I'm determined to make some changes in 2014 and really make it a jolly good year. Here's what I hope to accomplish/achieve in the following 12 months.... and if I don't? Well, there's always 2015...
1. Graduate with a good degree & find a job within 5 months
I won't harp on about this one as I've kind of expressed my enthusiasm for my degree in my rambles above. I finish in July of this year and really, really want to achieve a high grade and continue to achieve well. The sky's the limit. It sounds a little bit gushy - but I sometimes have one of those reflective moments and feel so blessed that I've got the 'creative bone' in my body. It allows me to do things a little different from the norm and the fact that I've chosen to persue a career within the field really does make me happy. It's a really nice feeling when a career path and a passion begin to come together - and I've loved creating things ever since I first picked up a colouring crayon! I've been told by one of my tutors it usually takes an average of 5-6 months to find a design job after graduating, so that's certainly going to be an aim of mine. In an ideal world, I'd love to have one by Christmas of next year - but it's extremely competitive out there. Wish me luck...
2. Stop worrying about everything and get my anxiety back under control
Again, I mentioned above about my struggles with anxiety this year. I know deep down I'll never really get rid of my panic attacks altogether - but I want to get back to how I was before the ordeal last Christmas and finally feel 100% 'me' again. I need to stop worrying about things that won't happen, stop obsessing over things that don't matter and stop trying to change things I know I can't change. My aim is to be a much more calmer, relaxed version of 'Beth' in 2014.
3. Save the pennies
I'm actually pretty good when it comes to saving money. But I really do want to add to my savings accounts this year. The design industry could take me anywhere and if I need to move for a job then I shall require some dollar in the bank! I aim to stay local in the first few years of my career (I'm such a home bird...) - but you never know do you?
4. Kick-start the summer body!
Oo you can't have a list of resolutions without some sort of exercising/'join a gym' goal in there somewhere can you?! I won't lie to myself and say I'll join a gym because I know for a fact I won't. I simply can't afford the commitment right now, however, this year I really do want to detox more and get my body toned and ready for summer. I managed to keep up a really good fitness regime the year before last and I noticed such a difference so I really want to start making it a regular thing again!
5. Get back my confidence with driving
I love driving. But I really have lost my confidence with it the past couple of years or so simply because I never need to go far. I take the bus to uni because it's easier on the pennies and I can't remember the last time I've gone too far from home in the ol' birdmobile. I'm actually a pretty good driver and I do genuinely enjoy doing it - so this year, I'm determined to get my driving mojo back. I'm considering doing a couple of refresher lessons - or just putting a random address into a SatNav and grabbing the bull by the horns and just going for it. I've made it my summer task - after the stresses and strains of uni work are out of the way and I can really knuckle down on it for a couple of weeks or so.
6. Take more photos
I blame Pinterest for this resolution. I'm already snap happy but I really want to start taking photographs even more. The type that look really considered and capture the essence of a moment - the type you see on these really put together lifestyle blogs and on people's Pinterest boards. I need to set up a new Instagram, actually take my big beastly camera abroad with me and be more creative with my kodak moments.
7. Enjoy the moment more
Ok - this one kind of contradicts the last. But sometimes I feel as if we are all so caught up in this over-sharing, social media obsessed world of today that we actually forget to just enjoy the moment. If something funny happens, I feel sad I haven't got it on video. If I miss a particularly good 'artistic photograph' moment with a bunch of friends, I feel disappointed I haven't got my swishy camera with me. So what?!?! I have an iPhone I can capture it with - albeit it might be a little grainy but who gives a hoot? I need to concentrate more on enjoying a moment for what it is and stop thinking of making everything picture perfect all the time. It's all stored in the bank of memories anyway!
I'm not going to set myself any blogging goals or aims this year - as I think it sets me up for disappointment, but I've recently taken a little step back and know what I need to change, what I need to keep doing and where I want to go with my blog. All in all, I just want to continue to enjoy blogging - I think I lost sight of my blog a little in 2013. It might not seem like it on the surface, but beneath it - I've realised I've been concentrating far too much on trying to have everything 'perfect'. I put pressure on myself when it comes to my blog and compare myself to others (as I'm sure we are all guilty of...) I just want to take it back to basics and enjoy it in the same way I did when I first started out - less planning, less editing and more enjoyment! So what if there's a pesky shadow in a photograph, or if the lighting isn't top notch or if I've accidentally left my camera on another setting and the photos look slightly 'less nice' than normal. I'd also love to start commenting more on other's blogs the way I used to - I actually used to comment on every post I read! I think blogging has kind of shifted in 2013 - we aren't as interactive in the ol' comments box as we used to be (is it just me who feels this way?) - I'd love to take time to interact more via Blogger instead of relying purely on Twitter. I want to reach my milestone of 4k within the next few months (because 4 is my lucky number I'm particularly excited about it) and I also want to continue to experiment with my photography and refresh/tweak my blog design over the summer. In a nutshell - I just want to continue to be creative with my blog, continue to see it grow and enjoy it for what it is. Mine.
What are you resolutions this year? Any similar to mine?
If you've done a similar post, be sure to let me know in the comments down below!