Saturday, December 30, 2017

Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

I honestly have no idea what the purpose of you was and I doubt I will ever find out. It was a year of
unemployment and just staying in the same place.

The first 3 months of the year I learnt how to live alone while the rest of my family was overseas. I am thankful for how many people supported me and became like family to me during this time. I don't think I could've survived without them! I gained some independence and had to fend for myself, thankfully both the house and animals survived as did myself.

My anxiety continued to try and rule me and I spent many times just letting the tears fall unsure of what the future would hold. I am so thankful for having an amazing psychologist who wasn't afraid to tell me like it was while also supporting me. I shed a lot of tears in her office but they were healing and she showed me that I don't give myself enough credit for what I've gone through and my strength. Despite it all and almost hitting rock bottom a few times I am feeling more in control of my anxiety than I ever have and starting to slowly change my thought patterns.
I also realised that despite not thinking it does that my anxiety affects my social life, I avoided going to things because I didn't know many people or it was something that wasn't my scene. I have slowly
started going to more events and accepting more invitations and I hope to continue that in 2018.

I started to stop seeing myself as broken or damaged and instead started to see myself for the strong young women I am. Having both anxiety and dyspraxia meant that I tended to focus on my weaknesses and not my strengths but I have slowly started to see myself in a new light. It's always going to be something I need to work on but this year something started to change.

I took my writing to the next step this year and had 5 articles published on The Mighty. I never thought I would be able to be published somewhere other than this blog and this was a huge (much needed) confidence boost. I got to tell more of my story and share it with people who may be going through similar things.

I learnt how to stand up for myself this year and not be such a pushover. Bullying throughout the years had taken it's toll on me and I rarely stood up for myself but this year I started to stand up for myself and advocate for my needs. I still have a long way to go in that area but it's great to be making some progress and finding my voice.

I continued to be unemployed and struggled a lot with wondering why this was. It wasn't for my lack of trying and perseverance, I applied for so many jobs and despite that I just couldn't get work. I tried to put on a brave face but there was only so much of it I could take and I found myself not coping at all. I lost it a few times and there were times when it felt like me against the world but I somehow managed to survive it.

Despite not working I managed to be very busy with volunteer work. I continued to be a Youth Ambassador for ReachOut which meant attending a workshop in February and working really hard as I am the only YA for my state. I attended comic con and helped out in the ReachOut ChillOut room which was loads of fun. I spoke at a youth mental health expo on exam stress which was very nerve wracking but I did it. I did an online bake sale to raise funds and inspired them to do it that way next year as it went so well. I became a forum mod which meant a weekend away in a new city, never in a million years did I think this would happen and my mum ended up being more worried about it than I was.
I became more active in my church and ended up catering a quiz night with one weeks notice which despite my stress turned out well in the end (a bonus was that my team won!).

I started doing regular exercise and noticed a huge improvement in both my mental and physical health. I also used to make excuses for not exercising but I forced myself to get up early and go for a 30 minute walk 5 times a week and I have stuck to it the bulk of the time. I have also started to eat less sugar and not skip meals which has helped. I continued to avoid diet coke and I can safely say I don't miss it at all and have yet to have a sip in over a year.
I also added to my collection of scars when I had what I thought was a cyst removed, but it turned out to be a precancerous growth so while I am left with a weird scar I am thankful that it wasn't worse!

It's strange to realise that you are not where you thought you would be at this age and I can honestly say it's taken me a while to accept the fact that I am not married or even have a boyfriend for that matter at the age of 23. I joke that having anxiety makes relationships harder and I am realising that it is true (to a degree) but at the same time if people can't handle the fact I have anxiety then they don't deserve to know me. It is hard not to feel jealous of those around who are in relationships whether that be dating, engaged or married. But something I am working on is reminding myself that things will happen in God's timing and I will meet the right person at the right time.

I got off my P Plates so I am now a fully licensed driver which is great and considering everything I went through just to get on the roads it's a huge achievement and proof that perseverance does pay off.

In between the challenges good things happened; one of my cousin's got married, I took a few
weekend trips away, I turned 23, I laughed way to much, I saw some amazing movies (Dance Academy, Power Rangers, Pitch Perfect 3, Wonder...), met some amazing people, caught up with new and old friends, baked a lot of yummy goodies, lost myself in books and tv shows, shopped until I dropped on a few too many occasions, played some new board games, went to the cat café, embraced change (and realised that it can be good) and did so many more things that helped make this year bearable.

So what does 2018 have in store for me? Well I am going back to study to get experience in the IT field, I have no idea what that will hold and I terrified that I won't cope with it. Of course I am putting things in place so that won't happen but it's in the back of my mind. Everyone I have spoken to thinks I am doing the right thing and have chosen the right course and I am praying that everything goes smoothly.
I hope to get a job and break my unemployment streak and that one day soon I will be writing here that I have a job.
I have no desire to stop volunteering for ReachOut and can't wait to see what 2018 holds in term of being a Youth Ambassador and Forum Mod. I feel a sense of accomplishment whenever I put on my ReachOut shirt and represent them and I still can't believe I have found such an amazing organisation to be apart of.
I want to hold onto the friendships I have made over the years and not loose touch with people no matter how far away they live whether that be by regular texts and facebook messages or scheduling regular coffee catch ups. A lot of my friends are moving away and while it's sad to see them go I know they are doing the right thing for them, but I want to do what I can so I won't loose touch with them.
But lets be honest only God knows what 2018 holds and while I am terrified to live it I am so ready to move forward.

2017 you've been a hard year and one that I am happy to see end but I have survived you and I am stronger than ever, 2018 bring it on let's see what I can survive next.

Love Erin

Dear 2016 and Dear 2015

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