With the end of the year approaching, I reflected a lot on my year and more generally, on the decade coming to an end. I first wrote a very long post (in bed at 3 am 👍) in which I went over the events of every year, from 2010 to 2019, as these have been the most challenging and traumatic years of my life. It was a painful process and I cried a lot, but it made me feel a lot lighter. Now, obviously, that was too personal to be shared online so I decided to focus on the positive instead, for the start of the new year.

2019 has been a strange year. For most of it, I was busy doing my Master’s degree – busy being an absolute understatement. I feel like I barely lived this year as I was so stressed and nervous about the various essays I had to write and my dissertation due for the end of the summer. I had NEVER written a research essay before this year (in France, we only have finals so if we had to write an essay, it was an exam room for four hours… quite different), let alone a thesis. I felt behind and I doubted myself constantly, undermining my progress and achievements. Writing up the dissertation proved to be especially hard as I was alone all day, behind my desk or in the library. My mood dropped significantly and I found myself in dark places I knew too well. Of course, job-hunting did not make things any easier for me, despite my good results and a whole month of reading and relaxing. Maybe I haven’t really recovered from the black dog, yet. I still have days when I just cry for no reason and feel so incredibly sad and empty. Days when I just cannot leave the house because the world is too scary outside. A full night of sleep is a sweet memory, because I feel so restless at night.

Okay… but where’s the focus on the positive?

Well, I feel more positive than before because I finally decided to face the fact that I am not feeling good and that I need professional help. I also acknowledge that yes, perhaps I’m still not quite recovered, but I am so much better than a few years ago. I am taking back control. I have identified the sources of my problems and although it hurt at first, I’m distancing myself from them. My biggest achievement of the year might be that I’ve finally quit smoking. I feel so proud of me. I bet that most people thought I’d be the last one to quit a few years ago! It makes me feel so much better and happier (and my bank account too is very grateful). My heart feels lighter now. It was just a crutch I used to feel cool and calm. I have certainly embraced my uncoolness, and somehow feel calmer now that I don’t have to plan my whole life around ‘will I have time to have a cigarette? Do they have a smoking area? How am I supposed to not smoke for four hours?’. With regard to my health, I have discovered yoga this year and it is pure joy. I want to practise yoga more regularly this year, for my mind more than for my body.

I’ve also pushed myself recently: I took part in book clubs and went to have some drinks with groups of women I don’t know. It’s hard at first but then, I realise that no one knows me so I can just start with a clean slate. I am Sophie and I’m free to be whoever I am.

I shall be stepping into 2020 with lots of care, I don’t want to get too carried away. I shall put all those negative memories behind but keep the drive that allowed me to go this far. New decade, same – but improved – me.

Oh, and a MA graduate! 🎓

I look so tense… a natural poser 💁

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