What A Year

So 2016 is creeping upon us, and 2015 feels like it disappeared in a flash. Given that I have spent many a time this year writing 2014, in complete denial of the change in digit, I shall struggle further with this endless progression of time. I do wish it would slow down.

Nonetheless 2015 has been a spectacular year.

I started it in England with family, and a visiting boyfriend, before moving to Paris for four months. I also started this little blog, on January 17th. It has changed form many times since then but for the most part I have been blogging consistently for nearly 12 months and I confess to being surprised about it's upcoming birthday - it seems like yesterday and forever ago, a paradoxical effect of time.

During my semester in Paris I was lucky enough to visit Spain and Morocco with my two best friends, as well as a jaunt back to Abu Dhabi to learn about ethical leadership. Both countries delighted me with their rich cultures, each influencing the other from their historically intertwined past, and of course it was a joy to go home and see old friends.

Paris itself was beautiful, and provided me with the time and space to reflect on what I needed. I learnt what I could do to better my self care routine, and made two fantastic friends who provided endless amounts of laughter as we wandered around museums and art galleries, and cooked together with too much wine.

However Paris was hard too. Paris tested a friendship, tested my relationship, and was my first experience of semi-regular panic attacks. The self-care became all the more important, as I walked through the rues desperately fending off anxiety. And then, just as soon as it had started, Paris was over and back to England I went before moving to New York for the summer.

In its own way New York was both wonderful and difficult. I faced the challenge of living with a man for the first time in my life and then desperately tried to keep it together as I watched our relationship crumble. I loved my internship and being in the city, seeing old friends and making new ones, but the two months were a rollercoaster of emotion. I took a trip to Niagara Falls with my Pappi, and then, when it was over, flew to Costa Rica to meet the boyfriend's family. It was during this trip that we decided to break up, and so I learnt several valuable lessons: I invest too much time and energy into romance, and that I can never fly away from my demons. I have spent far too much of my life thinking that in the next place I will be happier, the next country will be easier, and I have come to see that it is only what I do that will affect how I feel.

And so I ended back in Abu Dhabi, a place that feels more and more like home. I licked my wounds of heartbreak, and realised how lucky I was to be free of something that wasn't making me happy. I grew this blog, and, whilst the numbers remain small, I am so proud of what it has come to be: a place to evaluate feelings, offer advice and document my efforts to working towards being emotionally healthier. I focused on projects that were rewarding, and traveled to Kazakhstan and Athens in the process. And I began to vlog, starting with an adventure with my oldest friend who had come to visit.

I look back on the past year, and I can see how lucky I am. I have travelled to six countries on three different continents, and lived in three more, taking 18 flights to get between them. I caught up with friends and family across the globe, and met a host of interesting people. I have grown in confidence, and faced my battles with mental health head on. But I can also see the cost of the life I lead: the endless goodbyes, the growing apart from friends, and the sheer effort it takes to make everything happen. It is been exhausting and exhilarating, and I am spending the last few days of 2015 relaxing with family, ready for the year ahead.

One thing I want to make clear is that I am so terribly grateful to be here, living as I do. Thank you 2015, and to all who made it wonderful - I am so lucky to have treasured friends and family in my life and I hope they know how much I appreciate them.

2016 will no doubt be just as crazy and wonderful, and I can't wait to live it.