January 1st has a lot of expectation pinned on it. So many people decide to entirely change their life on the 1st, only to cancel those plans by January 3rd. It’s difficult to avoid the New Years rhetoric of how you clearly must hate your life, and will continue to hate it until you lose 10 pounds, get a nose job, become a millionaire, cut out carbs, and go on a retreat to find yourself.
(That’s also why I’m publishing this post on January 2nd, so that some of the hype about ‘new year new me’ may have died down)
The New Year seems to make people realise that they’re not in love with who they are or how they look and act, and that genuinely makes me sad. As someone who has battled with crippling low self esteem and low confidence, and has come out the other side (maybe too far, because now I fully believe that I may well be the greatest person alive?), I think people need to make the changes they want to make slowly, one at a time, in manageable chunks, rather than getting to the start of another year and thinking ‘shit, I have 101 things to do before I’m happy with myself’.
Over the course of 2018, I feel that I’ve actually changed quite a lot. Most of these changes have come entirely from within (although some have come from situational changes, like moving out of a shared house into a one bed studio apartment, which was potentially the smartest thing I’ve ever done).
so, this post is one in which I try to summarise all the new me’s that I’ve formed in 2018.
2018 has heralded the second half of my second year, and the first half of my third year as a student nurse. I won’t lie, training to be a nurse is hard. At times, boring or stressful. Always rewarding. This year, I’ve really tried to develop my style. I’ve been working hard to make sure that I stay caring, compassionate. I also want to make sure that I am as intelligent, brave and strong as possible to be an advocate for my patients. I want my patients to say that they felt that they were treated with dignity and respect. I want to be the sort of nurse I want looking after me.
I do feel like I’ve always been quite a good friend. I know who I like and who I don’t like. I will stand up for my friends, and will always listen to them.
One things I’ve always prided myself on is my gift giving abilities, and that comes purely from listening to my friends. 6 months ago they once mentioned that they loved a particular brand? You’d best believe I’ve got that written down ready for your birthday.
This year, I’ve made a big effort to go out of my way to talk to new people. At uni, at events, at clubs. I’ve made a lot of new friends in my choir and my church especially, which has been great, and I feel like they really have my back in hard times and will defend me if I’m not there to defend myself.
I’ve also cut out some very bad friends who I was associated with situationally, not because I wanted to be. I’m nearly 21 years old; I feel too old for petty school yard bitchiness. I’m not looking to start beef with anyone at this stage!!!
I’ve come into my own with my clothes this year. I’ve tried things that traditionally I would never ever wear because I have a preconceived notion of what my body can and cannot wear. I’ve started following a lot of body positivity accounts/people who generally are okay with their bodies how they are (like bodyposipanda on instagram, and articharl on twitter) and they’ve reminded me that my body has 2 arms, 2 legs, a torso and hips, just like everyone else’s- so why can’t I wear the same things as other people, just because I’m not as slim as them?
I’ve made bold fashion choices- read: red denim skirts, big pointy pink sunglasses, and leopard print shirts (I appreciate that it doesn’t sound that bold to anyone else, but I’ve never felt able to wear clothes like that. It’s an exciting time for me, getting to experiment in a way that I haven’t before.
Both of my sisters are naturally slim so I’ve grown up comparing myself to them. But I’m not them!! I have big boobs and wide hips and jiggly thighs and a round face- I LOVE ALL OF IT. Life is too short for me to waste time and energy waging war on my body. Realising that not every body is the same has been a long and arduous journey, but I feel like I’m getting there.
As a side note, I have started going to the gym this year, but really that’s for strength, endurance and my health rather than for weight loss of any sort.
I also want to get better at taking my medications and treating my body properly in a medical sense. As a diabetic, I’m fully aware that I’m open to a whole range of really nasty complications- complications that I’d rather avoid. I made good progress with my diabetes in 201&, so I hope that continues.
This year, I’ve really found my faith and found my place in my church. I go twice a week- once on a Sunday for my service, and on a Thursday for student night with my small group of 6-7 girls, and 3-5 boys. Truly a solid group of friends.
I’ve yet a meet anyone at church who is less than friendly and welcoming. If I’m having a terrible day, I know I can turn up at church and be greeted as welcomed by someone who’s happy to spend a few hours with me.
Although I find it difficult to fully believe in every aspect of religion- I particularly struggle with the creation story, Jesus, and acts of miracles- but I’m getting there, and I fully appreciate that there is a God above looking out for every single one of us.
This year, I’ve started work as a student assistant research intern. That means I’ve co authored a paper with a great team of researchers, which honestly might have been the most interesting (and challenging) things I’ve done.
The study that I was writing about regarded quality of life for patients with chronic heart failure. Getting to hear about their experiences was a real privilege for me, and one which has inspired me to research more into this for my dissertations, which considers mental health and chronic heart failure.
Where do we go from here?
There are a few things I want to change in 2019, and a couple of resolutions.
I want to say YES more. Some weird examples from 2018 where I regret saying no are driving a boat in Greece, and removing a male catheter while on placement. Within reason, I want to become a yes man.
I want to take more pride in my appearance. Too often, I sell myself short and go out in black jeans and a baggy white t shift. There’s not actually anything wrong with that, but I have so many nice clothes that really, I don’t need to hide inside a baggy white t shirt. So whether it’s just putting some mascara on, wearing heeled boots instead of trainers, or maybe even wearing a dress instead of jeans, I want to show myself and the world that I care about how I look.
I also want to stand up for myself and my beliefs, even if they go against the popular opinion. I went to a leadership course earlier this year, which yes I found very boring at the time. Everyone else there was criticising the group leader, which I went along with for a while, until I realised that actually our leader was a very solid guy who appreciated that leadership isn’t always the most fun activity. After that, I started defending him and staying out of the conversations about him- I want more of that in 2019.
In terms of New Years resolutions (shudder), I find its better and easier to add things in rather than to take things out. Saying that you’re going to cut out all refined sugar in your life is impracticable, stupid, and unobtainable (and who actually wants to do that??? Not me for sure).
- Be able to run 10km (I got to 8km and felt like death, so it’s close enough)
- Take up cross stitch (I have created some beautiful things! And am branching out this year from following stitch patterns to creating my own designs)
- Learn British Sign Language (I took a 6 week course, and have subsequently forgotten it all. Might need to repeat the course this year)
- Stop taking sugar in my tea (yes, this is cutting something out, but mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to buy sugar anymore so… and only twice in 2018 did I have sugar in my tea, both when my blood sugar went low at work and I had nothing else to treat it with)
To be honest, those a good goals and I was surprised at how well I achieved them! This year, I have fewer, but they are:
- Go to the gym at least once a week (I already have a membership so makes sense to stop wasting money and actually go)
- Pick up all the clothes off my floor each night before bed (I live in a dump)
- Take time to go to the cinema if there’s a good movie playing (even if no one wants to come with me- I’m very good at taking myself out)
These are all things which don’t matter at all if I don’t achieve them. I’m not setting out to totally change my life, because I like my life the way it is already.