“and so, she decided to start living the life she’d imagined.”
2017 started off with a bang (the firework kind!), as I watched the iconic London display from Primrose Hill. I’d previously opted out of Primrose due to anxiety, but it is safe to say I started this year as I’d mean to go on and every day just got better! This was the year of milestones. From fitness, education, birthdays, friendships and memories that even this goldfish brain could never forget. I faced some of my old demons and plenty of new dementors along the way but it was also the first year I actually won some of these battles.
From January to June I completed my final year of school (year 13) and sat my A Level exams. The amount of work, motivation and daily breakdowns for three letters on a piece of paper was not worth it, although now I understand it is so much more than that. School isn’t the stupid subjects that aren’t relevant to your degree, or your free periods online shopping or even the grades you walk out the gate with, but it’s about developing a work ethic, seeing improvement, learning from those around you and becoming self-sufficient so you can go to the toilet alone at break time! Although I didn’t get the grades everyone said I deserved and decreased my life expectancy by almost half, I can now see the bigger picture and know it was worth it.
In the last few weeks of school, we faced communal challenges that words cannot describe the pain of. A boy in our year group for 7 years passed away and it was horrific and heartbreaking but we learnt that time heals and became stronger, closer and more accepting of each other which was something a prior judgemental year group of 300 pupils previously lacked. This contrasted with the last few days of school, where there was an evident gap in conjunction with acceptance. We all came in our old year 7 school uniform on the second last day, having dance parties on the lunch tables followed by emotional goodbyes the next day. Although many people’s futures’ followed similar paths at the same university, mine did not and I knew that there would be no familiar faces in the next chapter and the best friends who have sat next to me at school since I was 5 would soon be in different cities. However, I was excited and wanted to escape the bubble and meet new people to share my love of chocolate milk, football and recite the full 15-minute version of Tom Fletcher’s wedding speech.
As Summer quickly approached, I had the comfort of an unconditional university offer, so my A Level grades were not dependent on whether I would get into my dream university. I can honestly say I had no doubts about my choice as I knew I had chosen a homely environment with great lecturers, course and people. With university in the back of my mind, my family went on possibly our last holiday together to Toronto, Canada to celebrate my 18th birthday and my brother’s 21st. My actual birthday in March was the best weekend from going to the Westend to see Kinky Boots in theatre on the Friday (the best show I have ever seen and I’ve seen them all!!), to champagne tea with friends on Saturday, and family birthday celebrations on Sunday with loads of leftover cake. Even though I still get ID for a 15 at the cinema, it was pretty cool becoming an adult and was a super memorable weekend. As our holiday to Toronto approached, it wasn’t looking too hopeful as my mum had to have a treatment that didn’t go to plan and she didn’t think she would be well enough to go away. However, she pushed on through like always and the second the plane touched down, a miracle happened. Our action-packed holiday of landmarks, day trips and searching for Shawn Mendes was no easy holiday but I have never seen my mum so well. It was the biggest blessing and nothing will be more special than the memories I created on that holiday. The day trip to Niagara Falls was the highlight of my year and I honestly do not have the words to describe the views. I cannot wait to explore Canada more when I am older as I absolutely loved it.
Another huge milestone this year was cars and careers. After crying before and after every driving lesson from back pain and being absolutely awful at it, I somehow fluked both my theory and driving test and passed both first time! How?I will never know as I reversed around the corner on a curb and had three 4-laned round-a-bouts! It is safe to say everyone including my parents and driving instructor was completely shocked, hence why it took me 7 months since passing to get back in the driver’s seat!!
I also got a job. As mentioned with driving I am still held back by my back, even five years post-surgery, so finding a job that doesn’t require heavy lifting and just generally finding a job in London is pretty impossible with no experience. Of course, I tried and went to interviews and applied all around but Gin being Gin couldn’t get an ordinary job (…and no I am not going to announce that my career as a stripper!!) Over the summer I started messing about with graphic design. I am a very creative person but cannot draw a stickman with a pen so this took some practice but with professional software and my work ethic I started to get pretty good (in a teenage girl downplaying her work whilst glaring at her friends to praise her skills and tell her she is being stupid). Although I couldn’t settle on just graphic design but decided to do animation work too because to put it simply, I am an overachiever. I developed a pretty good portfolio and sent it around to some of my favourite YouTubers, as my animations were mainly intros and end cards and also some businesses’ in an industry I am familiar with to create logos, posters, social media work ect. From there it really took off and I couldn’t believe that I was getting paid for my work, that my hobby was my job and that people thought it was good! It is also pretty cool because I am a Marketing, Advertising and Branding student so it links with what I am learning and I can combine the business and media side together. If you’re interested in my work my Instagram is adventurebegins4.
We are nearly at the end but 2017 saved the best till last. University. If you know me I am pretty much the epitome of the ideal university student. I am the person who does all the group work alone, loves to learn, always does those extra (but useless) things they recommend, goes out, weekly food shop comes to £8, has a relevant job, socialises and never misses a Great British Bake-Off episode! I started university as wanting to be the ‘be it all girl’ and I have so far done a pretty good job of living up to that expectations. I will be doing a full blog post solely on uni because I am obsessed but in short I could not be at a better place, with a better flat and course mates, learning about what I love and being accepted for chugging chocolate milk instead of pints of beer.
Thanks to everyone who has made 2017 memorable. I hope 2018 carries on being just as good with more friendships, memories, learning, jobs and plenty more adventures. Although the adventure has begun, I am looking forward to growing and sharing and just being Gin!
Always got your back,