Dear 2018,

As Kylie Jenner put so eloquently two years that 2016 was going to be the year of realising stuff, 2018 has been my realising things year. At the beginning of 2018 I wrote myself six goals in the front of my Fearne Cotton Happy Journal.

  1. I will become a registered mental health nurse.
  2. I will get married.
  3. I will get a great job.
  4. I will run 10K.
  5. I will move to a new area.
  6. I will go abroad.

I remember almost scoffing at some of the goals, because none of them seemed difficult. In fact, I thought I’d gone pretty easy on myself for the year but 2018 had different plans for me.

  1. I will become a registered mental health nurse.
    Tick. Although this certainly wasn’t easy, I was pretty confident that I would manage this one and I did, finishing university in September and graduating in December. I am a nurse and that still feels incredibly bizarre to say.

  2. I will get married.
    Oh naive January Rachel, this one also seemed pretty easy. There was a date, a venue and a dress but what I learned this year was that it doesn’t really matter how concrete plans are, life throws curveballs and it’s totally possible to come out of a shitty situation unscathed and stronger. I also learnt that maybe I don’t want the married, house, kids dream that most people are aiming for at my age and that’s okay!
  3. I will get a great job.
    Tick. I never thought I’d be one of those people who said that they truly love their job but it turns out that I got a really incredible job this year. I took a job that I wasn’t sure about. I’m one of the most risk averse people usually, but this one has paid off!
  4. I will run a 10k.
    This one was a firm no. In fact, I’m not sure I ran more than 10 times this year. Why? Because I decided that I actually hate running. This year I took up pilates and yoga and found that it’s much easier to do an activity you enjoy. Goodbye 10k, you are not a goal that I’ll ever regret not managing to do.

  5. I will move to a new area.
    Tick. After finishing uni, I had pretty solid plans to move to the South of the country and by South, I meant Brighton. Once again, life had other ideas and I ended up South, but South West, starting a new life in Somerset. It certainly wasn’t what I had in mind and I can’t say that I was particularly receptive to moving to a 100,000 population sized town in the middle of kind of nowhere, but here I am and I haven’t complained about it in at least a month. Life is full of (good) surprises.
  6. I will go abroad.
    Tick. California, Köln and Berlin were totally unexpected holidays this year that just kind of happened and made up some of my best memories this year. Hopefully I can add a few more to my travel list in 2019.

    2018 has been the biggest year of twists and turns and laughs and cries and though I don’t think I’ll be sad to see it go, I can truly say it’s been the year of realising things.

Rachel x-x-x

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What I Learnt From Veering Off Track

In 2015 I graduated from my languages degree and commenced a degree in Mental Health Nursing. In the last three years I’ve explained myself a thousand times over, why I didn’t pursue languages, why the change from one career path to another, why uproot myself to a new city and start over rather than getting a job in a field I was good at. It felt like people were mystified that I was deviating from ‘the norm,’ or convinced that a nursing degree must be my last resort because I couldn’t get a job in languages. Instead of detailing all of the above, I wanted to lay down what really happens when you do something that everyone is telling you not to do and why it was the best move I could have made.

People will tell you that you’re making a mistake

I listened politely as so many people, friends, lecturers, family members were awed at my decision to do another degree as though I’d just told them I was pregnant with six babies. They tried to convince me that it was easier to carry on the road I was treading and that I could decide to do something later if I still wanted to. But that’s not how life works is it? I work on a basis where you never know what tomorrow is going to bring and putting a passion off until later just isn’t something I want to do for fear of never doing it and regretting it in years to come. Yes, it would have been ‘easier’ to find a job in languages than to pursue something new and in the current climate I would definitely have made more money doing so but money and ease does not compare to happiness.

You have to listen to other’s points of view

One thing I found very difficult when changing course was that I knew I was being extremely single-minded. I had a goal and I was going to get there so to hear others tell me that they didn’t think it was a good course of action was hard. In the end I went with my gut but I do think it’s important to hear people out when they have an opinion even if it’s one you don’t share. But definitely seek out a load of different perspectives before making a big decision, it’s good to hear from people who have different experience and knowledge to you as much as it is to hear from those who have a similar background.

You will learn what you really want 

I think humans spend a lot of time convincing themselves that their current position makes them happy, that they would rather stay where they are then entertain the possibility of success because their anxieties focus on the negatives. What if I don’t succeed? What if I fail and everyone knows about it? What if I take the risk and then realise that it isn’t for me?

But what if you do succeed? What if the risk you’ve taken pays off and it’s everything you’ve dreamed of? Changing the course of your life is something that only you have the power to do. For me, the fear of regret further down the line is a much bigger driving force these days than the anxiety of failure.

The ability to assess your own position and to change that is a privilege so by not doing it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. However tiny the change is, it might just make your life a million times better, that’s not something I’d want to leave to chance.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever changed track or done the ‘unexpected.’ I’d love to hear your stories!

Rachel x-x-x

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