This article is going to be a personal reflection on the year I have had, so, if you are not quite as self indulgent as I am and care very little about my life experiences, I suggest you read another article.
New Years Eve 2018 was spent working in a three storey cocktail bar, making hundreds of Pornstar Martinis. Midnight hit, sparklers were lit, Prosecco was opened and a shot of tequila was taken behind the bar. We braced ourselves for the next three hours of drunks shouting, Auld Lang Syne playing and glasses being shattered. By the time I was walking back to my empty student house at 6am, watching the sun come up on a new year, I was exhausted and the last thing on my mind was the year I had just seen in.
January exams came around, and I revised pretty hard, but was still working long hours while also rehearsing for a musical. I was busy, stressed and tired, so when the last of my two exams finished, an all day bar crawl was in order. Working at a bar meant that I drank a lot and didn’t sleep much. At the weekends I worked from 6pm till around 5am, and my body had become used to being permanently jet lagged.
So began another bar crawl, this time in celebration of January exams being over. We started at midday and by 11:30pm my friend Beth and I had collected enough people to warrant a trip to Jesters. That was until, after the 13 pints I had consumed in nearly 12 hours, while running down Bevois Valley in the rain with a friend to the Palace of Dreams, I became rather aggressively acquainted with the bonnet and windscreen of a Volkswagen Polo. I bounced off the windscreen, took out a wing mirror, and found myself knocked out, face down in the road.
This is where the year, only 21 days in, really started to change.
After two weeks spent at home being fed, bathed and cared for by my family and friends, being ferried to hospital appointments for the 8 broken bones which were healing, I really started thinking about where I was at with my life.
I had bumbled through my first year and semester one of my second year drinking too much and caring too little. As for studying? As if. I had done my first show with Showstoppers that December and it had pushed me in a healthier direction, but I was watching myself slowly fall back into unhealthy patterns. I had started to make plans for this year and suddenly everything was up in the air. I had to pull out of a show, I found myself in huge physical pain, and was struggling mentally to even begin to process what a silly thing I had done. I looked in the mirror and saw someone that was battered, bruised and scarred. To read more about that please check out this article I wrote earlier this year.
So I began making plans, finding new things to try, ways to show how grateful I was to have come out of what happened okay, alive, and just a bit broken with a changed face. All I had to do once I came out of my cast was wait on two surgeries to put my nose back together and to remove my scarring.
So, I auditioned for every show I could. I took part in my first Theatre Group show, I went to see as many of my favourite musicians live as I could, and I started doing stand up comedy. I went to socials for societies I’d been a little too nervous to show up to, I did RAG’s Take Me Out (which I cannot recommend enough, it was hilarious), I got elected onto three committees, and I got on stage and sang Chasing Cars at Karaoke, because we have to laugh. My friends were invaluable – they saw how busy and tired I’d become since the accident, and that my health was poor, but they understood why I needed to do the things I was doing.
I fell head over heels in love with the life I had begun creating for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t pretend it was all easy. I still slipped up (and do so now), drank too much, and wobbled. I put on weight after the accident, of course, but I tried to love what was happening to the body I was so grateful for.
I found myself with a 1000 projects going on. By summer I was rehearsing for a play being taken up to the Edinburgh Fringe, I was building a website for a feminist magazine I launched, I went on holiday to Nice with my best friends and I could not stop writing. By no means was being so busy healthy all the time, but I was just so grateful for all the opportunities that came my way.
I‘ve done things this year I never thought I could. I left a job that was terrible for me, I got in a ring and boxed, I performed at the Fringe and watched 22 shows, I saw 50+ of my favourite people sing and dance in my garden for my 21st birthday, and I started writing and editing for Wessex Scene.
2019 was the year that showed me my own strength, my need to be busy, and the ways I cope. It introduced me to people who have changed my life and showed me that I deserve all the love and support we share. I learnt to be grateful for a body that is so strong.
So, I guess the thing I want to say to you, reader, is don’t wait for the Polo to hit you. Take every chance you can to test yourself and experience life. We are all so lucky to be here. Why not make the most of every second we have here? We may live in a messy, political, scary world, but we all can make choices everyday to make our lives and the lives of those around us a little bit happier. Hold your family and friends close.
Happy New Year, everyone. I wish you all a happy and healthy 2020.