The end of the year is nigh. Once the Queen's speech is over, the last mince pie has been scoffed and the clock strikes midnight on Boxing Day morning, people all around the world will be looking ahead to the next big event - the start of 2015.
At the same time, many of us will be reflecting on the year that's just gone. Whether we're reminiscing with affection and nostalgia, or simply relief that it is all over (!), we have all learnt something from the year that was 2014.
Here's what 2014 has taught me, in 6 of my favourite quote pictures.
1. Roll with the punches
There will be plenty of moments in your life when your whole world will suddenly change direction and you've gotta be ready to hold on tight and ride the wave. Is it just me, or is your late twenties particularly bad for this? Curve balls and massive life decisions are thrown at you left, right and centre, from break-ups and proposals to career changes and house purchases.
I can't remember a year that was quite such a roller coaster as 2014. What started out as a three month sabbatical from my job back in London turned into a year-long stay in Qatar, including being offered my dream job which saw me heading to Brazil to watch the World Cup and later in the year getting engaged to the man of my dreams. Was any of this part of my long term plan? Was it heck! Just ask any one of my friends where they thought I would be in 2014 three years ago, and I would put good money on the fact they would not say that I would be living in the Middle East with Rich. Now, I am currently sitting in a hospital room with him in Doha waiting for a surgeon to come and tell us whether he will require surgery when I should be on a flight to Nepal. But I'm rolling with it.
Chilling with my BFF, 2-time World Cup winner Cafu in Sao Paulo
2. Be true to who you are
I can't stress the importance of this one enough. Being your true, authentic self builds trust because people quickly get to know what you're about and are not concerned about what you might be hiding. In letting down your barriers and allowing the 'true you' to come out, you will also build up your own confidence in yourself. You are allowing yourself to find out that people actually really appreciate that quirky sense of humour of yours, LOVE that new vintage skirt you've been coveting, or value your thoughts and ideas, which can be a real boost. Plus, isn't trying to emulate the life of someone who isn't you all the time exhausting? Learn to love yourself, believe you're the most awesome thing that is walking the earth in 2014 (apart from a Unicorn, obvs), and you will feel completely and utterly happy and freeee!
My little 'oh yeah' moment came when I started my new job back in February. I made the decision to stand true to who I was and what I believe in rather than putting on a corporate front all the time and have since felt happier at work than I ever have done before.
Rich joked that my true self is a right 'pain' in the ass
3. Believe in yourself
Self-doubt can kill just about anything. It's the devil of self-fulfilling prophecies. Us girls are particularly terrible at this. We're not thin/pretty/funny/clever/tall/arty/talented enough to get to where we want to get to in life. Cool, OK. But if we don't believe in ourselves then how on earth is anyone else supposed to? Mummy Bags always told me "If you think you can, you're right. If you think you can't, you're right". I used to roll my eyes at this, but now I'll be the first to admit that in general, if you think your mum's wrong, you're wrong!
A little bit of belief in myself has helped me to get much further this year than I ever thought was possible - in my career, my personal life and my other interests.
Jet-skiing during a storm? Why not!
4. Sometimes you have to let go of the old to open yourself up to the new
Have you ever heard of the saying:"Everything you want is on the other side of fear"? In order to change and grow, you have to take a scary leap of faith to let go of the old and welcome the new with open arms.
This is the thing I learnt this year that I initially struggled with the most. I was crippled by months of homesickness for the UK, for the things I wasn't able to do any more and the people I couldn't see. As a result I wasn't loving my life out here all that much, or embracing the new opportunities that were presenting themselves to me. Then I had a bit of a lightbulb moment when I realised I didn't have to pine after old places and activities when there were so many new ones to explore. It was simultaneously a relief and a release. In letting go of a few things, I literally and figuratively crossed the ocean to my new city of Doha, and opened myself up to letting in new friends and experiences.
It's easy to embrace the new when you come across views like this
5. Say yes
When was the last time you made a list of all the new things you did over the past year?
My top 4 are as follows:
- Moved to the Middle East (after a lot of discussion I said yes)
- Found a new job (searched for it, they offered it to me, I said yes)
- Travelled across America (pretty easy to say yes)
- Got engaged (luckily for him I said yes)
I have never, ever regretted the things I have said yes to, only the things I've said no to. Trust me on this; the more of a habit saying yes becomes, the more fulfilling your life will be.
6. Listen to your heart
This one is the most important one of all, because if you trust that little vital organ of yours whole-heartedly, I thoroughly believe all of the other items listed above will just come together. If you follow your heart, you'll go with the flow, be true to yourself, have more confidence, find it easier to move on and to say yes to things.
I 'followed my sunshine' to Doha by trusting what my heart was telling me and here I am at the back end of 2014, feeling victorious that it was the right thing to do.
What did 2014 teach you?