2017


(forewarning: this post is ridiculously long and after reading Lexie's 2017 review, I realise unnecessarily so. Conciseness never was my strong point)




2017 opened in bed, crying. Start as you mean to go on, they say. I was terrified about the end of exams and pressure and emptiness and lack of direction.
As 2017 closes, I am no longer terrified about these things, I feel (mostly) full and my life feels busy and yes there are cracks and dark corners but I see a direction and a purpose beyond one sole, abusive thing. 
This year has been an unbelievable challenge, academically, mentally, socially, personally. It hasn't been a shit year, that description feels wholly unfair, but it has been immensely difficult and has ensued a lot of pain and fear. 
It has been characterised by 3 simple words: challenge, change, growth
It is a year I never believed I would survive but here I am, at the 31st December, alive, strong and through the cracks of my faulty mind and the challenges of this year, I am glowing with a radiance of survival.
I did it.

In my mind, it is divided into two distinct halves. The first you know about. The challenge. The intense loss of self, an abusive addiction to academia, permanent stress and relentless breakdowns about the prospect of the future. Home was a toxic and messy environment, plagued by depression of a loved one and a raging fire of perpetual conflict.
January to May was characterised by safe afternoons in the library, kind, kind teachers who said kind, kind words, believed in my abilities and listened to my incessant worries, whom I will forever remember for they way they looked after me and inspired me and understood me, days structured with immense precision to ensure both revision and uptight socialising could be achieved, and endless laughs and gossips and jokes. We were bombarded with relentless mocks, in January, in March and almost broke trying to achieve in a school that was falling apart (a failed ofsted, 3 different head teachers). Much of it is a blur. Of tears, of a dressing gown I never got out of, of "I can't do this" to teachers and "yes you can" responses". My dear mum drove me to the beach, repeated nights in a row, to cry, to walk and to listen to my pain. I ignored the dates, hid my calendar, pretended I had no idea how many weeks it was until the end but still repeatedly thought "3 months, its okay thats ages", "4 weeks I can't do this.

June. Fucking June. Here's some snippets of memory.
Geography exam, my first, one I relied so heavily on to achieve. An exam in which the pressure led to a panic attack, leaving the exam half way through, crying into the invigilators arms that "it wasn't supposed to happen like this".
A walk, that same evening, with my closest friends. It was raining and dark. I felt my life was over.
An English exam were I lost myself in the bliss of writing about made up characters and the excitement of an interesting essay.
A conversation with my dear History teacher. "Be kind to yourself Katie", "feed the right wolves".
A day, one of the weirdest of my life, that consisted of 2 goddamn awful exams and a surprise hung parliament???
A week spent solely revising Romantic poetry, days spent in the library losing brain cells to Shelley's depressive narrative and Blake's religious beliefs.
The final exam, utter glee at the questions (presentation of nature in Romantic poetry UHM YES) and the most conflicting emotions.
3 consecutive days of partying, mixed with emptiness.

July was a whirlwind of Leavers' (a night spent clubbing with out English teacher/head of sixth form, all smashed and having a blast), 2 of the most insane weeks travelling around Europe with my best friends, exploring cities and feeling so alive at the adventure, my 18th birthday in the sickest club in Buda.

August is a month of juxtaposition, aching with the pain of grief. I also experience one of the happiest days of my life, opening my A-level results to see 3 A*'s (?!) and screaming "what the fuck", spending the night absolutely pissed and watching the 7am sunrise before heading on holiday that very same day.

And September brought the change, the return of my sister to school, but me not with her, and the loss of my closest friends. It existed as a day by day month, one day it was okay, the next I would creep downstairs and breakfast and just sit in silence, blank faced, crying. But, I survived.

And I suppose the rest is just the after.
And now it feels okay.
Its taken 10 months of pain to reach this place but I've learned time really can heal anything. It soothed my first experience of grief, not towards a person but towards the most reliable and secure element of my life.
Day by day things got easier. I felt less need to fill every second, my life began to feel purposeful, I learned what helped the longing and the loneliness. I busied myself with numerous trips, to Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Manchester, London, Oxford, allowed myself to do more art and create for the pure enjoyment. I applied to uni and experienced an Oxford interview. I spent more time with my family, gave back in return for everything I took this year and allowed the world to be.
I volunteer and I work and I learn and I feel good and life feels as though it has meaning and I have grown so so much, so far beyond anything I could have imagined.
And to get through the absolute shite that, in retrospect, was August–mid November, I wrote and I talked and I tried therapy and I ran and I listened to podcasts and I read and I spent time in nature and I baked and I created and I went on nights out and I reminded myself that it will get better. And it has.

This space on the internet has provided a divine sanctuary of safety. A space that has allowed me to process the madness, to disperse my thoughts when they felt most vulnerable and provided a sense of stability in the turbulence and change 2017.

It has also given me new friends, something I never could have pre-empted, but which cures my loneliness and built my dwindling identity. To them, I really am so grateful for saving this year, no matter how insignificant a part they feel they have played.
I understand myself to an extend I never believed possible, I enjoy my own company, I feel an ability to take on new challenges, I feel proud of my written work and I am so, so much more confident, in trying new experiences, in meeting new people, in talking.

And despite all this deep and analytical talk, there have been some fucking great moments (and just some worth mentioning):
Endless nights out, fuelled by trebles and eager, messy and hazy and complicated but always a blast. The submission of my English and History coursework, the latter causing immense trauma but also producing a piece of work I am overwhelmingly proud of. The introduction of a cat into our house, who I now adore, flute lessons that offered an hour of disappearance from this abusive world, evenings spent with my 3 best friends (more like sisters), where time just disappeared, the annual family Easter trip and days spent revising Soviet architecture on the beach, takeaway nights in pyjamas, a dear teacher who cried at my thank you card (despite me despising geography) and still emails e for updates. A day on the quayside filming for a friend, days at work, often with kids falling asleep, meeting Dalal and Libby in London, endless trips to the beach and walks and the Guilty Feminist podcasts and live viewing at Edinburgh fringe and knitting and probably so much more but this post is already so long.  Fucking nuts politics that saw a general election, the inauguration of an abhorrent president, relentless trauma, in the way of terrorism and fires and an aching country, and so many other global events, the relieving avoidance of a French right-wing leader, the activation of article 50, a faulty government plagued with division and allegation, the rise of the voice of victims, war and coup and an ongoing climate crisis.

And right now, I still miss school in some ways, but the pining has diluted. I am craving education, feeling increasingly stupid but, more than anything, am relishing the absence of permanent stress. I am apprehensive about the turning of the year and no longer having a numerical connection with the academic path and still freak out when I think about growing up. I manage to overthink most aspects of my existence and judge and compare my life with almost everyone around me.
But it's okay. I've survived this, I can survive almost anything.

And, in true melodramatic spirit, some thank you's.
To my aforementioned History teacher for never telling me how much of an annoying fuck I was, putting on extra lessons despite him being sure I would succeed and for inspiring my love for the subject. To my friends, for offering never ending laughs and distraction and withstanding the journey with me, to this online space for offering an unjudgemental outlet, to you all of listening to my incessant crises, to my family for not giving up, no matter how annoying I was, crying every second and the pain a-levels ensued for them all (lol sorry guys, was worth it in the end??) and to my dear mum, for always being there. Always.

Here's to 2018. May it be fucking ace.

*
(okay this post seems so complainy and whiney and privileged–my year was so much better than some peoples and I am entirely aware of this but my mind also tried to ruin me so I guess it wasn't all rosy but this is just a disclaimer insecure me feels is necessary to say I know how privileged I am. Thank u.)


9 comments

  1. It's been such a jam packed year!! And, exhale! Haha. Good luck with everything, 2018 sounds like it will actually be lit. Happy new year! <3

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  2. I absolutely love your longer posts, it's so comforting to load up a long post and just sit there and read it. Your year sounds hectic but I'm so glad it involved us meeting up and I hope 2018 sees out friendship evolve (along with many more walks around London or even Newcastle) I'm so glad your attachment to school has kinda lowered, I remember you were yearning to go back SO much -which I never understood haha- I know 2018 is going to be such a fantastic year for you and I am genuinely hoping that it all goes to plan for you.

    Lots of love,
    Dalal

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    1. oh wow i'm glad you like the longer posts, ive been stressing that its too long. I really hope for that too, gives me something to look forward to! Haha I know it was strange but man it was an intense feeling. Thank yoU Dalal, I hope for the same for you too xx

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  3. I loved this post!! Sounds like I'm relishing in your sadness, I'm not- I just really enjoy the way you write, and I hope 2018 brings you more good than 2017 did! Also I love this picture. Also I can't believe you went clubbing with your teachers, although on our last day we all went to the pub and some of the teachers got so drunk but I felt too awkward aha. I'm glad you have a good mum who drove you to the beach and friends who stuck with you and that you came to terms with more things about yourself and having an unkind brain and I hope 2018 you find things to help! And that you come to London more often and I can take you to places that aren't ridiculously expensive and that you go to more places. Hope 2018 brings you too much goodness and more adventures with your cat !! x

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  4. I can fully relate to how you felt last year, and like you I ended the year on a more positive note. Congratulate yourself on your strength and resilience. I hope that this year is less stressful for you, and that your evolution continues. Also, you don't sound whiny at all! Anxiety is awful and school is extremely difficult to deal with sometimes.

    lahondureina.blogspot.com

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  5. I adore your longer posts Katie, this was a beautiful reflection. 2017 was so difficult and I completely relate, but I feel like it turned around a little in the end. May 2018 bring soo many new experiences, challenges and good times!! I feel so grateful to have met (is that the right saying??) you and all the other gals on here, it's the best thing knowing we're all kinda in the same boat, and have a little support system here!! Hopefully we can meet this year! xxx

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    1. haha thank you, I definitely agree that it got better towards the end but man, wasn't it a challenge??? Agree 100% I adore this community and all you guys, even though we've never met!! Let's change that in 2018 :) all the very best my love xxx

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Katie