2016 In Review
At the start of 2016, I got back from a glorious, eye-opening, trip in Thailand, armed with big ideas and giant thoughts and a whole lot of questions in my pocket, and published this blog post about being brave on Lucy Sarah. It was scary, man. Bravery is not easy. But I made a pact with myself to make 2016 a year of pushing myself, stepping out of my comfort zone, and doing brave things.
A year on, it only seems right to take a look back on the past 12 months.
In 2016 I left my job and went freelance full time
Probably the biggest change of 2016, in late January I decided to cash in my job as a full-time copywriter and swap it out for a life of more freedom, but definitely more stress. When my notice period was up at the end of March, I’d worked hard to secure myself enough work to keep food in my belly and a roof over my head, but it was still incredibly scary to start my freelance job in earnest. Nine months later, and I still feel like I’m finding my feet, but I am grateful every day for the challenges that being your own boss brings. I suck at admin, but there’s something (unsurprisingly) powerful about knowing that, if you don’t keep on top of your invoices, you won’t get paid. And while sometimes I do feel like crawling up in a ball and crying because of the stresses of self-employment, I am forever grateful for the hunger and bravery that comes with the freelance life and blogging here at Lucy Sarah. I’ve gotten to work with and meet the most incredible and inspirational people, and I’m putting out only good vibes into the universe for more of that this year.
In 2016 I returned to England
It’s hard for me to believe, but April will mark 3 years since I moved back to South Africa. When people ask me how long I’ve been home for, I almost always automatically say something like ‘Oh, I moved back last year’ before quickly realising that it’s been much longer than that – the time has flown. The choice to leave the UK in the first one wasn’t an easy one for me, and actually leaving was even harder. I can now be honest about the fact that I was heavily depressed for a large portion of 2014, and when I finally got myself into a better mental space, I was reluctant to visit England for fear of undoing all the growing I’d done. But when my closest cousins decided to get married in July, it felt like the right time to go back to the place I’d called home for 5 years, and see the people I missed so much there. Ultimately, it was the best thing I could have done. Don’t get me wrong – being back was HARD, and my heart ached for the life I left behind, and the incredible people that were so intimately woven into the fabric of that part of my journey. Spending time with the best friends I’ve ever had, remembering the freedom of being a young professional in London, and reconnecting with the family I have there was all hard. But I could also see that, for my health and my needs, I’d made the right choice, and that was endlessly comforting. When Ant picked me up from the airport, from the second he had me back in his arms, I knew I was home. And that was endlessly comforting.
In 2016 I visited Norway, Zambia, Thailand, and Hong Kong
My love for travel only grows with each new year, and in 2016 I was able to scratch a couple more places from my World Scratch Map. At the end of 2015, we visited Phuket in Thailand for the first time with Ant’s amazing family, which was followed by a couple weeks of backpacking around this beautiful country with friends. I loved everything about Thailand – the food, the people, the experiences. Honestly, give me a plane and you’ll probably find me parked off on a beach with a Chang beer in hand. To end things off, we also had a short stint in Hong Kong, which also stole a good portion of my heart. It’s firmly placed on my bucket list, and I can’t wait for another chance to truly explore Hong Kong.
While in the UK in July, I also got to pop over and see two South African friends who have recently moved to Oslo, Norway. I’ve previously spent time in Switzerland and Denmark (both of which I loved), but Norway was spectacular and memorable in its own way. A utopic summer country, Ant and I are already making plans to head back there come winter.
Then in October we got to experience Zambia like never before, with an unforgettable trip to Royal Chundu – read more about that here and here. Working hard on Lucy Sarah, and putting so much time into it, it’s incredibly validating to be offered opportunities to expand my love for Africa and share it with other people. More than any other trip in 2016, this one will stick in my mind as a landmark for me both personally and professionally.
In 2016 we adopted two balls of fluff
When my best friend, Beth, visited from the UK in April, she was an absolute trooper in helping me search for a new fluffy friend to join our family – despite her cat allergy (many antihistamines were purchased.) Knowing that I was planning on going solo and working from home, my sister had given us a ‘cat voucher’ for Christmas, which basically meant that she would pay the adoption fee for whichever feline friend we decided to pick. So Beth and I drove all over Joburg looking at all the kittens the city had to offer, but it was only when we went to Cat-aholics in Rosebank (which has now relocated and will be reopening later this year) that we found the perfect little guys for us. Bebop and Rocksteady, brothers but total opposites in colour, came home with us and having them around has totally changed my experience of working at home – it’s so comforting to always have their company.
In 2016 we upgraded our living situation
We loved our old flat, but toward the middle of 2016 it was becoming increasingly clear that we needed to make a change. Knowing that I’d be working from home from then on, I’d started looking for something with a little more space, and around June we found the perfect new spot for us: still in Linden, but bigger, recently renovated, and with an incredible balcony and involved landlord. Moving was a mission, and I got emotional about leaving our first-home-together, but it was the perfect move for us. I’m so happy.
In 2016 we fell in love – all over again
I’m not shy to talk about the fact that Ant and I went through a bit of a tough patch at the start of 2016. We’d just returned from an incredible holiday, he was starting a new job, I was preparing to leave mine, and we were both a bit of a mess – though I can now admit that I was more of a mess. Terrible fights, endless tears, and nights apart all seemed to add up to an inevitable break up. But we pulled through – we pushed ourselves to talk it through, to work together, and to fight for a love that we’d been living with since we were practically kids. When things started to normalise again, I realised our relationship was about a million times stronger. I’ve no doubt that it won’t be the last tough patch we go through as a couple, but I feel so strengthened by the knowledge that we can get through things. And no matter what happens, we’ll make a decision each and every day to choose each other. With that knowledge in my heart, I’m so excited to spend the rest of my life with this human.
Globally, 2016 was a bit of a mess. Which I guess was partly reflected in my own life, while I worked to find my feet and figure out the next step on my path. But damn, what a year of growth, too. I was able to push myself, feel things, and take on experiences that I’d never had before. And in the process, I can feel that I grew, became stronger, and found a little more clarity about the years ahead.
I wouldn’t trade being where I am today for being where I was 365 days ago for all the coffee in the world. Being brave has evolved from being my 2016 resolution to being my life mantra, and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.
Thank you for being on this journey with me – here’s to an adventure-filled 2017