This year.

I’ve had a pretty difficult, pretty mixed year. Even writing this is tricky, I still haven’t processed a lot of it and to be honest I don’t think I ever fully will. That being said, I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences, ones that I’m so thankful for. Both my personal and professional lives are in a much better place than they were at the start of the year, this year I feel as if I’ve truly grown as a person.

I’m going to start with thing that the majority of you know me from, politics. Depending on how long you’ve been in my bubble, you’ll know that for me the last year has been a rollercoaster. The changing of the year saw me changing my internal party role within the Liberal Democrats, with me moving to sit on the South East Regional Executive. In this role, I got the opportunity to do a number of things- ranging all the way from the odd tweet for the region to helping run the European Election campaign. Whilst it was difficult and stressful at times, and although I really struggled; I do want to thank everyone (again) for letting me have that opportunity. Thank you for supporting me along the way, allowing me to take part in these amazing initiatives that I could only dream to be apart of. I loved almost every second and am so grateful.

This year also saw me leave the party. One thing that I’ll always do, no matter where I am, is stay honest with myself and what I believe in. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes sometimes, but what it does mean is that I always try to be honest and act with what I believe in. Joining the Tories in hindsight was the wrong decision, yet I know that at the time it felt as if that was the best place for my values. I don’t regret it, and learnt a lot from it. It helped me to develop my ideals, and reshape the way that I think about party culture. I’m glad that I made it back into the Liberal Democrats, one thing that I will always support is an open and tolerant society- me having this brief slip and shifting my party alliance has showed me that those things are more important than ever.

I’m also proud of the people that I’ve met within politics over the last year, ranging from young, energetic campaigners to elected officials within a number of parties. I’ve had the chance to appear on a number of media platforms, including the BBC. This year, I’ve had some really big experiences and honestly just thinking about them makes me happy. I’ve come so far and also have some really exciting things planned for next year. Politics is a difficult bag, but I’m proud to have stood up for what I believe in where I can, even if it was unpopular or ill-received. I’ve received death threats, I’ve received abuse. But I’m glad that people have stood with me along the way.

In my personal life, I’ve also been on quite a journey. I’ve fallen in love and I’ve had my heart broken. However, looking back on things, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I appreciate him being in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am without him, he supported me so much and I’m super glad to still have him in my life. He’s an amazing person and I wish him the world.

I also lost a friend, with her committing suicide earlier this year. That, for me, was a massive blow. I feel more than sad about it, I feel emotional absence, I still struggle with it. But it did cause me to rethink the relationships that I have with people, leading me to get back in touch with a lot of my old friends and to in turn rekindle a lot of my friendships. Do I regret losing her, and maybe not being there? Yes, of course. But the effect that these things have is a funny one, I do feel like I’ve grown as a person. I hope that she’ll be proud of me and where I’ve gotten to. I also hope that she knows that she’ll follow me wherever I go and that she’ll always inspire me no matter what.

I’ve been through a few personal tragedies this year, and whilst I don’t wish to fully share them, those who know me well will know that it’s been a pretty rubbish year. To be honest, I don’t entirely know why or how I’m still here. I am proud of doing just that though, staying here and not completely losing my grasp of the world. I’ve had some lows, I have struggled, but I’m glad to have had some amazing things to counter this. The year itself has truly been a mixed bag.

On a personal level though, despite all of the madness, I’ve managed to improve my mental health dramatically. I’m in a better place than I was at the start of the year and I hope it continues. I’m glad that I’ve fought this far and that, even though I have had some blips, I’ve made it this far.

Might be a bit more insignificant, the last small thing I’m proud of is my education. I’ve already applied to Universities, receiving four offers including one from Aberystwyth which has, at least for the last couple of years, been the University that I’ve wanted to attend. May was also filled with great exam results. At the moment, I’m also really enjoying writing my dissertation for my ‘Global Perspectives and Research’ course, with me writing about some pretty nerdy constitutional details. Through this, I’ve discovered a love for researching and investigating, I can’t wait until University next year.

So what is planned for next year? I’m super excited that we’ve got a political project launching in the early portion of next year for starters. I’m also moving across the country at some point, as mentioned, in September I’m studying at Aberystwyth. But other than those two things, I guess that nobody knows. However, one thing I am is excited. I absolutely can’t wait, I’m looking forward to new experiences and more self-growth. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve learnt and I’ve grown. I guess that’s just life.

See you all next year and have a good Christmas.

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