It might sound like a bit of a cliche, but I find new years an important time of year. Yes, it’s great to look into a new fresh year filled with excitement about all the possibilities, but it’s also a great time to reflect on the year that’s been. Without that intertwining of the old and the new, everything just becomes a blur. I used to view new years as just another night, but as I realise how huge 2014 will be for me (21st birthday, graduation, and travelling all await) I can’t help but think of all the things, people, and lessons 2013 has brought. I feel like 2013 hasn’t had a lot going on, but when I think about it really, 2013 was the year I changed as a person (even though maybe we do every year). I fell in and out of love, I started considering my future in a realistic way, and I grew up a lot.

In 2013 I learnt…

1. … To try

I learnt to try everything I can, while I can, and I would never know what would suit me if I didn’t try it out. Whether I’m trying out ideas for what I wanna do with my life, or just taking up a new hobby, doing the same things and never trying anything new makes life feel stagnant. This was also the year I started taking my fitness seriously. I joined a gym for the first time in my life, and it changed not only my body but my health and overall wellbeing. It would of been so easy to not bother, as I’ve never been overweight or overly unhealthy, but trying to change my lifestyle and get fit has changed my life and made me a happier, more confident and more energetic person.

2. … To do what I like

This year I almost didn’t do what I wanted to do, I almost compromised my plans and my future, for other people. And thank god I didn’t. It’s so easy to not do what you really want because you want to make other people happy. It’s not always as simple as someone guilt-tripping you. Sometimes, if you really love someone and value them, it seems like the right thing to do. To stay when you should of gone, or to go when you should of stayed. I learnt that it’s ok to be selfish and put yourself first. If the people who want to hold you back value you that much, they’ll let you loose, and they’ll wait. Allowing myself to be 100% totally free has made me be more open minded and put myself first.

3. … To stop spending money on things I don’t need

Ok, I haven’t learnt this completely. I’m never gonna stop buying another pretty dress or pair of shoes even though I’m knee deep into an overdraft. But as I save up for things I need, or things that I know will give more value to me and my future, it’s made me revalue the power of money and the things that are worth paying for. Buying nice things never hurt anyone, but instead of paying £100 for a pair of shoes, I’ve realised that’s £100 that could be spent on a plane ticket, a festival, or a camera lens. I’ve never been one to blow cash, but i’m slowly learning to prioritise. And it took being so skint it makes me cry to get there!

4. … To not worry about everything the future holds

This time a year ago, I thought I knew exactly what the future held. But you never do. Relationships I thought would last forever have ended. Things I thought I wanted I’m no longer sure about. It’s easy to think you’ve got it sussed but you never know what’s round the corner. It may not be the best example, but one day my dog seemed healthy and happy. The next day we found out he had bone cancer and had to have a leg removed. Our dog is such a big part of our family and for us it turned our life around. It was so unexpected and really through me off. Now i’ve learnt to stop expecting everything that will happen. It’s meant I can enjoy the little things, and obviously when things get tough it won’t get any easier, but it makes you more prepared, to know that you never really know… you know?!

5… To value my friends

My friends are like my second family. Of course I’ve always valued them, but as I come closer to graduating, and to going off on my travels, I’m aware I will see less of the people I love. The people I live with and go to uni with. The people I visit whenever I’m home. Don’t argue with your friends over things that aren’t worth it. And also realise whose worthy of your love. I keep seeing people waste their time on people that don’t appreciate them. Fuck that. Spend time with people who make you laugh, cheer you up, and who you can have fun with. Some of the people I consider my good friends I’ve only actually met a handful of times, but they make me feel more like me than people I’ve known for years. Which brings me to my next one…

6… To talk to everyone

I’m quite an outgoing person, but whenever I can, I always try to make the most of meeting new people. When you enclose yourself to the life you’ve always known, you can’t move forward. And it is people that help you move forward. I’ve met friends for life at festivals and parties, probably because festivals and parties seem to be my natural habitat! I’ve also met people who have been my bestest friend in the world for just that one night. I’ve never seen or met them again, or even remember their names, but that one night is what makes life what it is.

7… To be confident in yourself

This one is easier said than done no matter who you are or how high your self esteem is, but even though i’m quite a confident person, I would still allow people to walk over me and doubt myself, or question what I should do. To the point where I would question myself. But if you don’t have yourself and you don’t LOVE yourself, then what do you have? You can’t expect others to love you if you can’t love yourself. It’s a cliche, but it’s true. People love self-confident, sassy people who know their own mind.

8… To do shit that scares you

Normally I would avoid situations that put the fear of life into me like the plague, but now i’ve realised that you need fear in life. Without the fear, you remain feeling safe. And if you feel safe, you don’t take risks, and if you don’t take risks… well, you remain in the same stagnant situations, relationships, jobs, etc. This year I decided to learn how to surf. That first time I went surfing I was so nervous and kept doubting myself and whether deciding to stand on  board in the middle of the sea, in winter, in South Wales, was a good idea. But I did it. And now I’m determined to get on the board as much as possible and ride some barrels. Embrace the fear.

These are the main things I’ve learnt. 2013 was a year where I grew as a person. I realised what’s good in life and how to make the most of it and make the most of myself.