As 2019 draws a close we find ourselves not only heading for the end of a year, but the end of a decade.
On a personal level the last ten years were full of ups and downs of the highest level and as part of the return of more regular blog posts I wanted to do a three part analysis of my mental health decade, ending with 2018 – 20 – my new life.
The penultimate year of the 10’s decade was to be my first since 2015 where I wouldn’t be leaving the country on a backpacking trip, so I knew it would be different to what I was used to because I didn’t have that huge focal point of the year that I was working towards.
Although I wasn’t travelling in 2018 I did have another huge step in personal growth and independence as I moved out of my family home for the very first time as I moved to Camberwell, South London with two friends for a year.
For the past few years i’ve identified myself as a city person and London just so happens to be my favourite on the planet, so when the opportunity presented itself to me I jumped on it and I had such a fun year living with a great bunch of lads in the big smoke.
However, there are two absolute highlights of 2018 that will stay with me forever, both occurred in the summer and even overlapped each other ever so slightly.
The first, the big one, was the Football World Cup in Russia and in particular, England’s success in it.
I know we didn’t win or make the final but spending those few weeks watching England win a penalty shoot out, comfortably dispatch of Sweden in a quarter final and going 1-0 up in a semi-final all in the company of my some of my closest friends is something I would go through the heartbreak of losing to Croatia a million times over for.
The second big event of 2018 for me was my trip to Wembley Stadium to see Taylor Swift live. Her music has done wonders for my mental health and I was unfortunate to miss out on her tour dates a few years earlier.
Her show was incredible, I feel like you don’t need me to waffle on about that but it was easily one of the best I have ever been to and I look forward to doing it all again in July 2020.
The final year of the decade was hugely important for my future and some of the decisions and opportunities that have come my way have been huge for my mental health.
2019 gave me two of my favourite days of the decade, both were weddings, the first was my older brothers and the second was the first wedding of my childhood group of friends.
Both were so different from one another but equally as beautiful.
There are two events in particular I want to talk about in more detail, the first being getting my foot on the property ladder.
In May of this year my lease ran out in London and myself, as well as the boys I was living with all decided not to renew and I would be returning to Essex.
I decided I didn’t want to rent and instead opted to buy my very first home when I bought a two bed flat in Chelmsford.
This flat ticks all the boxes, it’s near my family and most of my friends and I live close to a train station to make the commute easier and see my friends living in the city and beyond.
I’m not going to lie, it was a stressful time trying to get everything in order and get it over the line but I was deemed not a risk and receiving the phone call to say I had completed while at Colchester train station on my way to London to celebrate my 25th birthday was a moment to remember.
The second was my career change I am currently halfway through.
As mentioned in my previous post I went to Newseum in DC during my 2015 travels and thought the idea of a journalism career would be something I would enjoy.
In the years that followed I dabbled in and out of the idea of doing it but my mental state was still a bit up and down and I didn’t have the confidence in myself to make the jump.
However, after a torrid summer in my previous job I decided enough was enough and in August I got an interview for News Associates in London which has recently won Best Journalism School in the UK for the fifth straight year.
The interview went well and I passed the entrance exams and a week after the interview I was offered a place to start in September and I am currently around half-way through, and the best thing of all is I am loving every second of it.
Where I am right now doing this journalism studies and work is exactly where I want to be and looking back on it now that lack of job satisfaction in the six months before I started at News Associates was the missing ingredient to my mental health that I was living without.
Here we are, just a few hours away from the start of a new decade and I am feeling incredibly optimistic about the future ahead of me, which is something I didn’t have for large parts of ‘The Ten’s’.
There were many times in the past ten years where I thought I was probably going to end up dead by the end of it, it may seem like I am exaggerating there but i’m not, that’s how dark it was inside my head for a long time.
At the end of any year I like to take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months but seeing as we’re about to start a new decade I decided to reflect on the past ten years and the biggest take away for me on a personal level is of gratitude that I was one of the lucky people who got the help and has been able to make a new life for myself, and it was one I want to live.
I’m predicting a challenging first six months of the year as I prepare for exams and a portfolio for my journalism qualification, but when i’m enjoying something as much as i’m enjoying this and the thought of what it will bring to me in the future I have no worries about six months worth of hard work.
Before that all comes to an end i’m becoming an uncle in March for the very first time before flying to California for the wedding of two of my closest travel friends which I feel blessed to be a part of, and very shortly after my course ends I turn 26 and a few days later I’m off to India for 3 weeks to explore a country I have had my eye on for many years.
Other than that I have no idea what ‘The twenties’ has in store for me and I find that so exciting.
On a mental level I know i’m not ‘cured’, I personally don’t think it is something that I will ever be free from but where I am now is by far the happiest I have ever been.
Writing these three posts, looking back on the highs as well as the lows of the past ten years and knowing I have come out of the other end stronger because of a combination of them both is huge to me and I just want to thank everyone who has been a part of it with me, I couldn’t do it without each and every one of you.
Happy New Year everyone, take care of yourselves and each other.