Goodbye 2018: Hello Cliched Blog Post

This New Year I have fully embraced the cliché of a good old fresh start.  I am so happy to be sweeping out those cobwebs and find a new beginning.  I don’t really want to say that I’m happy that 2018 is over, that brings with it the idea that I had a bad! year.  It wasn’t that bad really, but I am still glad to see it gone.  The reason for this is that 2018 was massively overwhelming.  I felt so much pressure throughout and it is the nicest feeling to start a new year without a deadline looming over my head.  There are plenty of other self-made deadlines, but nothing that’s going to either make or break my actual future career, which is a pleasant change.

2018 left me completely exhausted.  So many things, both good and bad, were condensed into a relatively short period of time, and yet I still felt like nothing moved forward.  The big change of the year was obviously graduating from university.  I am so proud of this achievement, especially as for a while it seemed so unattainable.  Even so, while many of my friends and peers have gone on to begin incredible careers, it was somewhat anti-climatic for me.  I felt like everybody around me was either travelling or kickstarting amazing jobs and I was still stuck at home feeling sorry for myself.  I am excited to escape this rut and fully begin my own journey.  I know that 2019 is going to bring positive change.  I don’t want to tempt fate but I truly believe that this year has big things in store.  It feels so good to start a fresh year knowing I could do whatever I want.

Unfortunately, 2018 also brought with it a series of saddening losses that have affected both my family and friends.  These bereavements have demonstrated to me how strong and resilient the people I love can be, and whilst looking back makes me sad, it also makes me proud. I hope 2019 will be slightly less cruel to us.  Having said this, we did have a whole extra year with our family dog, Sweep.  He wasn’t expected to see it past Christmas 2017, and while he’s the biggest, dopiest, blind, deaf, baby – somehow a Christmas miracle pulled through and he’s still happy and with us today.

I am proud to say that I went through a lot of personal growth last year.  2017 was a terrible year for my mental health and therefore my physical health, grades and personal relationships.  I’d like to think that I had a Sweep-like miracle and have started to pull it back.  I think I owe a lot of this development to bullet journaling, which I know sounds dumb but I really believe it helped me a lot.  I expressed my thoughts about how this method of organisation has helped me mentally in a previous blog post.  I forced myself into this habit and the difference it has made is phenomenal.  I am so happy to be able to say that the dark periods are growing fewer and fewer, and that for the first time in a long time, I can see things clearly and positively.

After realising how good bullet journaling was for me last year, I picked up new interests during the summer as a way to distract myself from everyone around me catapulting themselves into their futures.  I started doing yoga as a way of managing my anxiety.  Straight away I kind of just knew that this was what I’d been missing in my life.  It keeps me grounded but also encourages me to keep on pushing myself and improving on my abilities.  I used to go to the gym in Cardiff and this was great when I’d fully got into it and had a decent session.  But, the stress it caused before I even got there (in terms of how busy it was or if I’d bump into anyone I knew), stopped me from going too many times.  In comparison I get excited to get my yoga mat out in the living room, and my goal this year is to start going to classes, but I’ll do it at my own pace.   I also embroidered a couple of t-shirts and I’m keen to broaden my creative outlet.  I find this so therapeutic and the people who have received my creations seem to love them, so watch this space.

I have given myself so many more realistic goals this year and I am genuinely enthusiastic to get started on them.  ‘Care Less’ is one of the main ones.  Not about people, but about petty things that drag me down.  I don’t need that drama and gossip in my life, and I know it never makes me happy.  I hope January 2020 will find me full of joy and pride for 2019.  I know that this year is going to hold the big turning point in my life and it both thrills and scares me.  I will look back on most of 2018 with fondness, but I am very ready to move onwards and upwards with vast amounts of positivity.   Here’s to new adventures and big beginnings.


The End of an Era: Becoming a Graduate

Tomorrow I graduate from Cardiff University.  Tomorrow, I’ll don the gown and mortarboard and shake hands with important people as a symbolisation and celebration of my few years of university. It’s incredible how quickly three years fly by when you’re plummeting towards inconceivable debt.  And even though I have received my results, and even though I am incredibly happy with my 2:1 in English Literature, I am overcome with nerves.

The Beginning of the End
The celebration that takes place tomorrow really marks the end of an era.  It marks the end of lectures and societies and two-day hangover recoveries in a dark living room with my housemates.  It marks the end of Tesco Express trips in PJ’s at 4pm with little to no shame.  It marks the end of spontaneous nights out and partying excessively without judgement.  And most importantly, it brings to light how much that nineteen year old girl who got dropped off in halls by her parents and cried for an hour solid, has grown up.  And I think it is losing all these things, and not the actual graduation, that I’m nervous about.  Despite my achievements, I don’t want to leave ‘university Rosie’ behind.  I make the joke all time that ‘this is as far as I planned!!!’, but I am being deadly serious.  University was a safe bubble.  A very expensive bubble, with lots of expectation looming over you, but a bubble all the same.  There are few other scenarios in which you will be forced into living environment with people from all over the place with different interests and cultures and backgrounds, and become firm friends within days.  And the realisation that I won’t see those people every morning at breakfast, or share gossip over dinner -squished into the tattiest of sofas – is actually quite devastating.  The truth is, I became who I am now because of all the people I met and because of my own personal experience.  I know I am still this person outside of university and I will be shaped by my time in Cardiff forever,  but nevertheless that reality of moving on is difficult, and it’s only just hitting home.

My mental health isn’t really something I’ve spoken much about but I want to make it clear that I didn’t have an easy time at uni.  My second year was horrible, and I am so, so proud of myself to be able to say that I got through that and came away from the experience with  a degree that I know I deserved.  Depression and anxiety are common among university students due to numerous factors ,whether that includes their studies, social life, family, among many other possibilities.  My worst bout of depression hit in my second year, helpfully coinciding with when my grades began to actually matter.  I can’t say exactly why I got so low, although obviously stress was a factor.  I have a suspicion that my contraception may have also caused me to feel this way, although I had been on it for a year previously without feeling quite this terrible.  I barely ate or left my room and, in turn, I began losing my social life and missing out on crucial lectures.  I became a hermit.  I felt so alone and lost, and I seriously considered throwing in the towel and dropping out all together.  In turn, this thought made me feel useless and a ‘failure’ (which of course wouldn’t have been the case), increasing my stress and anxiety around the issue.  The feeling of loneliness is the thing that stands out the most from this snapshot of my life – overwhelming loneliness while being surrounded by people who I knew deep down did actually care for me, no matter what my head was telling me.  I felt truly alone and couldn’t see a way for any of it to get better.  But then I did the best thing I could have done, entirely by accident.  I broke down one day and told my boyfriend everything.
Finally telling somebody all the things that were making my life feel so grey and devoid of colour was like breaking down a dam.  I remember he hugged me for ages while I explained all the stupid things my head was thinking; things I can now see so clearly that weren’t true.  I rang my mum and told her how I was feeling, and she was so understanding and supportive, offering so much help and so many resources to help me get to grips with the fact that I wasn’t okay, but that that was alright.  And by slowly talking to people and recognising when I was slipping back into a dark place, I began to heal myself.  I’ll be honest, some days still aren’t great.  I do still have panic attacks and feel sick at the thought of eating for all the stress taking over my body, but I can recognise this for what it is now, rather than as something that owns me.   I think that overcoming this to an extent and finding happiness at university again is the other reason that I know I’ll find tomorrow difficult.  I fought so hard for the chance to feel at home there and find a uni family that I fit in to.  I feel like I have only just achieved this, and so saying goodbye will be hard.

Final farewell
Ups and downs shape us as individuals, and I feel like I’ve had my fair share of shaping.   I know I’m not done quite yet, not for a long time, but I am truly thankful for every memory and person from Cardiff University that made my time there so special.  I know it wasn’t a walk in the park but in a way I am glad of that- I’m stronger for it.  I’m nervous for tomorrow because I don’t want to have to accept that this is all over. When people told me this would be the hardest and best time of my life, they couldn’t have summed it up better.  I am proud of everything I achieved – of the friendships I made as well as the hard graft I put in.  The whole experience is something I will cherish for the rest of my days and I cannot express how much it means to me.  And I don’t even regret the bad times, not one bit, because they have made the absolutely brilliant ones shine all the brighter.