2017 was quite the never-ending conveyor belt of shit wasn’t it? On the one hand, by the end of last year I felt like I understood so much more about what was going on in the world and where I stood on key issues. On the other: wouldn’t it be nice to open Twitter in the morning and not feel an impending sense of doom? Wouldn’t it be nice to see a celebrity’s name trending and it be because of something wonderful, not because they’ve died or committed a crime?
Oh 2017. We’re not sad to see the back of you.
Will 2018 be better? Will our Twitter feeds and news channels be any less rage-inducing? If the first few days of the year are anything to go by…probably not. What I’m certain of, though, is that there are a few things I’ve learnt during the past twelve months that I’m determined to carry with me into 2018.
4 Life Lessons I’m Taking With Me Into 2018
1. Nothing is un-get-out-of-able
Yep, this is a made up word. My parents and I use this piece of advice when we’re trying to make big decisions. Because those big decisions always seem to be the ones we spend umming and ahhing over for weeks. Sure, sometimes it’s hard to decide what to have for tea, but in comparison to, say, deciding whether to leave the city you live in and move somewhere else or quit your job or start a business, it feels like a walk in the (really cold right now) park.
In 2016, I spent the best part of six months agonising over whether or not I should leave London. I did, eventually, because I found a job in Leeds, but the decision to take that job and actually go – pack my things and leave – it was still hard.
When I’m struggling with those big, life-changing decisions, I tell myself that no decision is ever final, however far down the path I get. Nothing is “un-get-out-of-able”.
“Just go!” my mum would tell me over the sobs at the other end of the phone. Me on a bus back to Shoreditch, her two hours away. “Go. And if you don’t like it, move back to London.”
Nothing’s ever too big to reverse. You’re never too far down the path to come back. I find a lot of comfort in that.
2. It’s OK to share things you are proud of
Saying nice things about myself, especially as a Brit, feels…icky. We’re supposed to be self-deprecating and sarcastic, not outwardly pleased for ourselves. But when you’re trying to run an online business in an already crowded market, sometimes you’ve just gotta straight-up come out and say it.
“Here, look, I did a cool thing.”
“I started working with a client and I’m really pleased with the results so far, look!”
“I’m proud of this piece I wrote.”
Whatever you do – whether you’re running an online business, a blog, an actual IRL store, or something completely different – it’s OK, no, more than OK, to share good things that are happening. To share things you’ve accomplished, that you’re proud of.
It feels icky because we’re told not to talk about ourselves too much, especially as women. We’re told to be humble. But talking about your accomplishments can bring you new clients, new collaborations, new customers. It can help position you as an expert in your field. It shows that you do good work. It’s OK to be pleased and proud of yourself and share that with the world.
3. But share your failures too
Equally, it’s OK to share your failures. To show your vulnerable side. To say, you know what? I’m a little disappointed this didn’t work out.
At the end of 2017 I was asked to submit a proposal for a potential speaking gig, so I researched what I wanted to speak about, put together a detailed proposal, and hit send.
A week later, I found out that I hadn’t got the gig. They’d loved my proposal but, based on the company’s budget, someone else had been chosen.
I was disappointed, of course. I’d put a lot of time and work into the proposal. It wasn’t until I had a lovely chat with one of my ever-supportive friends, though, that I decided to share this failure online with a positive twist. She’d made me see that the time and work I’d put into the proposal wouldn’t be wasted because I could always repurpose the idea for something else: an online course or an e-book.
I headed over to Twitter to share what I was going to do, saying that despite being disappointed that I hadn’t got the gig it might have been a blessing in disguise: I could potentially offer my readers something completely new and I’d get the chance to tackle a new kind of project I’ve had in the back of my mind for years.
4. It’s OK to not have it all figured out yet
2017 was such a transformative year for me. I lost my job, branched out on my own as a freelance social media manager and writer, learnt some lessons, ignored some advice, and got super honest with you all in a scary (but ultimately rewarding, due to all the lovely feedback I got) blog post about loneliness, freelancing, and diversifying my income.
That post resonated with a lot of people, and it also helped to debunk a popular myth about those of us who work for ourselves: that we’ve all got it figured out.
And who can blame people for thinking that, when the good bits are talked about more often than the bad? I published that blog post because I was kind of sick of pretending I was living a life I wasn’t. I wanted people to know that I, like everyone else, sometimes struggle with money. That I, like many other people who are single and work from home, struggle with loneliness. I wanted people to know that my life is full of as many highs and lows as anyone else’s. That I absolutely, one hundred percent don’t have it all figured out.
It’s so easy to think that you should have your shit together by now. And I’ll be honest: in my early twenties I definitely thought I’d have my shit together by the time I was in my early thirties. But here we are, taking one step at a time, learning a little something every time we make a mistake, getting back up on our feet and trying again. None of us really know what we’re doing, and that’s OK.