2017 | In Retrospective

It’s the end of the year as we know it and boy am I so ready for 2018.

Hello, it’s been a while. I’ve found it hard to try and find the words lately to summerise 2017. I’ve written and re-written this a dozen or so times. There’s no sugarcoating the ups and downs. There’s no making this all very ‘editorial’. Here’s my little retrospective on the past year.

Back in January, I was ready to write, fight and rise out the ashes of the sh*t show of 2016. I was aching to do something to help and make a difference. I threw myself into being as loud and vocal as I could. I was writing and learning and trying to boost voices and I kept up the momentum for a while. But I picked up bad habits and realised being glued to the constant barrage of bad just mentally wore me down. I spiralled and lost hope. I burnt out and as a consequence, I just stopped. Stopped blogging. Stopped writing. Stopped doing more than maybe a twitter rant or two.

That paired with a year of my mind going through cycles of exhaustion and recovery meant 2017 has become the year where I’ve felt the most aware of my mental health and how I deal with those as an adult. I am finding it harder and harder to ignore the fact that I am really not ok sometimes.

The promise of a new calendar year is awfully deceptive. I want to believe once the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve these feelings will instantly drift away. But it won’t overnight. That being said being aware of my own behaviour, what triggers it, what makes me feel and why is just the start of a journey towards a more sustainable approach to my mental health and looking after myself.

With those lows have come the highest of highs.

I went to India back in April and I keep forgetting that actually happened. I’ve kept quiet on the details not because I’ve wanted to keep the whole trip under wraps but I realised I was finding it hard to put into words what I got up to without it sounding so very ‘GUYS I totally found myself watching the sunset in Goa.’

But I DID watch the sunset in Goa. I also saw the sunset and turn into wonderful shades of purple and pink whilst sat on a houseboat in Alleppey. I spent an evening watching fog stream across huge mountain valleys covered in tea leaves. I packed myself into a tuk-tuk with four of my travel gang as we raced across Panjim on Easter Sunday. I saw the Taj Mahal in 30+ degree heat after an exhausting hour-long domestic flight and a four-hour drive from Delhi. I danced (badly) at my first Indian wedding in a colourful sari which I haggled for in a dress shop all by myself. In between the big moments were girly chats over freshly made garlic naan, learning phrases in Malayalam thanks to our driver in Kerala, and enough #travelsquad selfies to last a lifetime.

The trip did not come without drama, illness, and stress. but as cliched as it sounds it was such a once in a lifetime experience that I’d never take back.

My name was in print for the first time ever alongside an original piece poetry this year. The lovely folks at 404 Ink selected Filipina as part of their ‘F-Word’ themed issue 2 of the literary magazine. I have to admit I couldn’t quite hold back the tears when I got my copy of the magazine. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to really convey just how that felt to me. It’s not a book deal or heck even a sign up to an agent but it’s a start.

A start ignited, if you remember, by the wonderful Write Like A Grrrl course I did over a year and a half ago. Off the back of that, I packed my bags for a rather uncharacteristically sunny Manchester for GrrrlCon. What ensued was quite possibly the most magical weekend of writing and female empowerment I have ever witnessed to date. I couldn’t stop raving about how great it was to be in a room with some incredibly supportive female writers and creators. The conversations on confidence and inner critics were open, honest, and frankly quite cathartic to have. I honestly wished I could just stay there for the end of time. I found it hard to sustain that feeling once away from that little writing community, but I’m hoping to make a fresh start on my writing goals in the new year.

Though I’ve ticked off some of the biggest bucket list items that I never thought would be possible, it’s been the smaller moments that I’ve really appreciated.

Exploring London and Cambridge with Erin, the quiet mornings spent writing in small Northern Quarter cafes before a packed day at GrrrlCon, seeing my sister turn 18 (and discovering she is quite a dancer at her birthday party), hearing the tower bells of Magdelene College on my first May Morning in Oxford, wine and pizza nights with my housemates, the geeky atmosphere of LFCC (and spotting Alison Hannigan at her signing booth), happy crying watching Kelly Marie Tran in Star Wars, hearing Gillian Anderson talk about feminism, enjoying my first snow day in years, watching more live poetry, spoken word and comedy, making a fool of myself dancing with my colleagues at work parties, watching Dan + Shay live in Birmingham, punting and pimms on a warm summer day, wandering around Amsterdam in the brisk winter sunshine with my family, evenings spent roaring with laughter with friends over stupid pub quiz questions.

As cheesy as it sounds those moments are the ones I’m carrying with me into 2018.

This whole post is packed with cliches and I’m sorry it’s been a bit of a ramble. (I’m a bit rusty on the blog writing front) So cheers to you for making it through. I’m actually taking a bit of a break at the start of the new year before leaping back into working (I’m calling it my makeshift writing/’Ria sorts her life out retreat’). Aside from a little 2018 resolutions blog post, I’ll guess see you on the other side!

R Xx