What I’ve learned about myself this year

What have you done this year to make you feel proud?

Feel free to break into song at this point.

For me, 2017 has been almost as significant a year as 2016. I went on my first mission trip. I finished my internship. I became the magazine News and Sports editor at my old university. I got my first job, then lost it on my second day. I saw my sister Rhian go from being dangerously ill in hospital to joining the professionals on stage. Ups and downs seem to come without much warning.

It may be clichéd, but you do learn more when key things happen in your life, and you find you’ve passed yet more milestones. I spend so much of my time these days feeling like I’m growing mentally stale with no schedule being written for me. But then something will happen that will challenge me emotionally, and spark off so many reflections that I cannot record them in my journal quickly enough.

Now I am no life guru, or self help professional. Nor do I aspire to be. I just thought I’d share a few self reflections that I have managed to pin down this year.

  1. I’ve often said that uni helped me be more assertive, and I stand by that. And it shows in my friendships; I’m less afraid of judgement, less inclined to want to keep the peace at all costs, and somehow more open and emotionally intimate with my friends.
  2. If I’m not careful, I have a tendency to accept sub-ideal conditions until they go from bad to worse. This can be in any situation, be it toxic friendships, volunteering somewhere where I get shouted at, or ignoring a malfunctioning lightbulb in my room until all three of them have died…
  3. I actually do have a taste for adventure, which I think was awakened during the Ukraine mission trip. I may have had a panic attack on the plane, struggled to find vegetarian food that wasn’t chips or cake, nearly got lost on the underground, and been out of my comfort zone spiritually and socially…*deep breath* yet I still see the appeal in seeing a new country with a group of friends without knowing what to expect.
  4. I like to think I’m emotionally intelligent, but if I’m in the thick of a bad time, I will see my emotions as invalid, and press on until I either get ill or have a panic attack. Or feel ill because I’m panicking. Or panic because I feel ill. You get the picture…
  5. My weaknesses don’t seem to have changed, and include handling conflict, socialising in groups, and self righteous anger about anything that goes against my morals. A couple of examples would be cat prejudice and misogyny, and perhaps they are worthy causes to fight for. But when I simmer with resentment over ways in which other Christians – whether I know them or not – treat others in ways that go against what the Bible says about compassion, I forget how much don’t understand the Bible, and how much I struggle with certain aspects of it.

And with all that in mind, onwards and upwards! Meanwhile, here are just a few of this year’s highlights:

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Last orchestra concert


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24th birthday


Ukraine mission trip


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Jennie and Jan’s wedding



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My sister, Princess Tiger Lilly!


New Year’s musings

And it starts. Happy New Year, world. Every year at this time, people all over the internet complain about the year gone by, and hope for a better one. True, there have been numerous British and American political events that people are still at each other’s throats over. Not to mention a lot of senseless shooting. And celebrity deaths. But then every year has its low points. And you can bet that this time next year, people will still have their complaints.

Personally, for me 2016 has been quite a significant year. Generally when people say something like that, they mean it’s been tough. I’m not saying that, I just mean that it’s been full of significant life events. Namely:

Moving back home

Graduating with a 2:1

Going abroad on my own for the first time

Getting my internship at the bookshop

Having a blog post published on the National Autistic Society website and starting a Facebook page 

And it’s taught me a lot. Now this could be the part where I post some wise, yet obscure, life lessons that hint at countless hardships I’ve faced. Or it could be the part where I list a few key thoughts I’ve had over the past year and add that, if I don’t state what caused me to have them, then I probably don’t know. Not because I’m secretly hoping for admiration or sympathy. Anyway:

Trying to meet more people in the hope of finding friends is fine, but often the best friendships are the most unexpected. – Following an unfortunate friendship break up, I spent my 3rd year either trying new social events or feeling “peopled out” yet lonely. Now, through unrelated circumstances, I have grown closer to certain old friends, and have established a good level of banter with my colleagues that even makes me look forward to work.

Books or websites describing a condition give you a headstart in understanding, but they don’t describe a specific person. – I’m an Asperger person with emotions. Need I say more?

Everyone needs to feel like they mean something to someone

When trying to figure out why you feel a certain way, don’t force it. Sometimes you have to wait for thoughts to come.

You can only be held accountable for your own actions and mistakes. You are not responsible for others’.

So yeah, this year in a nutshell. Globally, it’s had its pitfalls. For me, it’s been good, and, given the number of people I know who haven’t had it easy lately, I’m grateful for the good times. If a little worried for the future. But hey, bring it on, 2017!