Over the past five years, I have been filling out a diary which asks you to write one line a day. When I received it for Christmas 2017, I didn’t seriously think that I would be able to keep up writing in it every day (and if I’m honest, it wasn’t always every day and there were plenty of times that I cross-referenced with my phone calendar and Instagram stories) but as I have got to the end of it, it has proved to be a really interesting period to look back over. From personal growth, including a year of weight-lifting, building my home over many years with my beloved cat who has sadly been living away from me for almost six months now, meeting my partner after a lot of questionable dating choices, 4 jobs (!) to global incidents and almost 700 days counted as being “pandemic times” (though I don’t think we are out of that yet), it has caught a really interesting period. I am certainly not where I thought I would be when I started that diary. Some things were beyond my dreams, other things absolute nightmares.
2022 has been a year of extremes for many people. It both seems to have disappeared quickly and seems impossibly long (can you believe that Everything Everywhere All at Once came out this year?) It has been a year of fantastic professional growth and unbelievable personal pain. We have lost so many loved ones this year, many suddenly and unexpectedly. I promised myself this year I would take more time for my own writing work, and have seen some wonderful successes including becoming the 2022 TLC Scholar. We have been stuck due to the cladding scandal, which luckily seems to have hope on the horizon, and we have had to change many of our plans.
I know I am tired. Very tired. I look back at diary entries and blog posts from 2018, the first year that I wrote in my five year diary, and there is a confidence of language and lack of self-censorship that is endearing but completely alien to where we are now. I have lost that lightness of phase, that un-self-conscious love for things, people. I took so many chances, threw so much of myself into the arts and into theatre particularly – an art form I’ve barely engaged with all year. Everything feels heavier than it used to. Perhaps that is just the reality of life in your thirties.
2023 promises to be an important year for many of us. I will be getting married, continuing with my writing mentorship, redeveloping some work with collaborators, hopefully moving into a shared home with my spouse and building on our life together. It seems a fitting time to be putting some things behind me in that diary. Still, I find myself holding on to it tight. There are people written in to its pages that I don’t want to leave behind me. There are versions of myself, dreams that I had and beliefs I had about who I was that I’m sad to let go. There are friendships I know are disappearing, lives that I know are changing, and whilst I know that a lot of that change will be positive, I know a lot of it will signal the end, for good.
A closed book can be heavy, even when a fresh page can be exciting.
I gave up on strict resolutions many years ago. Last year I simply made a pledge that I would take more time for my own work, and that paid off well with longlisting, shortlisting, and winning a range of opportunities. I hope that you can all find the time to indulge that small spark within yourself, whether it’s writing that short story or taking that drawing class, starting hikes or booking that trip. I also hope you can find support within your communities, find your people and spend time with those people you love. We don’t know how much time we have with any people we care about.
My soft pledge for next year is to make sure I fight through that self-conscious voice to make sure I give people their flowers. Making sure I tell people when they are remarkable, and kind. Make sure they know how loved they are while they are with us, because you never know when it will be your last time to say it. I also want to try to use that voice with myself. To be less self critical. To find confidence and community again, and not feel like I am outside looking in at people and things I love.
So to you reading this: thank you for being who you are. Thank you for still being with us as we go into 2023. I hope you have a year full of discovery, full of care, and full of compassion for yourself and those around you. x