Twenty-thirteen.

new years eve

A little late to press, but I thought it would be rude not to write a little review of 2013.

To be honest, I’ve been wanting to write a year review for the past two weeks, but haven’t managed to muster up the courage: I just don’t know where to start. 2013 was without doubt the most God damn crazy year of my life so far. And, before you think ‘oh no not another self-publicity blog year review’, it most certainly wasn’t always crazy in a good way.

2013 had enough ups, downs, trials, tribulations, elations and exasperations to last me more than a lifetime. And, you know what? It’s not even over yet. Someone pass me a large Starbucks.

Anyone who has read any of my previous blog posts, or indeed spoken to me in the past 18 months will know that I did not have a clue what I wanted to do when I graduated. In the famous words of Avenue Q, what do you do with a BA in English? Well, 2013 was the year that I found that out.

One of my favourite things to do is to look through my laptop at old versions of my CV. This time a year ago I was about to embark on the first of many internships that would dominate most of my year, pulling and twisting me in multiple directions. Whether we like it or not, internships have rapidly become a right of passage for all young people; a complete necessity to gain any real kudos and credibility in the jobs market.

Interning at magazines is most of the time incredibly rewarding, exciting and, in all honesty, a bit of a girly teenage dream come true. I’ve found myself working at publications I devoured when I was younger, and even now still indulge in on my morning commute. If I’d told my neurotic 15-year-old self that I was going to eventually be working at a magazine, much like the ones I stowed in order under my bed, I would have laughed you all the way out of the door and down the stairs.

It’s taken me a while to realise that my life this year was quite different to that of my friends. There were plenty of times when I sorely regretted making the romantic decision to ‘chase a dream’. Times were particularly tough when I found myself working part time to support my internships – in one crazy feat over the summer I managed to work 60 days straight without a day off. Definitely not recommended by any means.

Seeing my friends move away from home, living in London with friends and, in my eyes, ‘living the dream’, was particularly tough. For half the year I was in London, but with no time or energy to even contemplate socialising. I think there was more than one occasion when I came home from a long day’s interning, and immediately opened my laptop to crack on with an online article submission, that my boyfriend looked into my eyes and thought ‘this girl is genuinely insane’.

In the second half of the year, I began to start getting interviews for various jobs that were actually within my radar. At long last, I found my perfect match, and have been in my current job since September. Needless to say, the latter part of 2013 passed by a lot quicker than the first part. This Christmas I even indulged in my first period of extended time off since graduation.

fashion magazine office

But, that’s enough of the wallowing self pity. If there’s one thing 2013 taught me, it’s that this big bad world certainly doesn’t owe me anything. 2013 has been a year where I did things I never would have dreamed of doing, but it’s all the more sweeter knowing I worked hard to get to them. I’ve worked on fashion shoots, landed my first freelance journalism contract, been featured in two magazines, made the third row of London Fashion Week, and even had tea with the Queen (yes, really).

And, if there’s another thing 2013 has taught me, it’s that you can do a hell of a lot in a year. I spend my life hearing my friends tell me they are ‘so old now’, but in reality, we are so so young, and have so much time on our hands to change our fates. My life right now is far from ideal, but it’s along the lines of what I want at this moment in time. Nothing is to say that this won’t change in the future, and 2013 has taught me that accepting the status quo for fear of what could go wrong will just mean you get left behind. Who knows, I may find a burning desire to open a coffee shop business… (VERY unlikely).

Making mistakes was never something I was very good at when I was at school – it probably comes from being one of those nerdy teenagers who freaked out at being predicted an A not an A*. I got slightly better as a student, but it was only really in 2013 that I learnt the true meaning of ‘learning from criticism’. If I was going to take away one thing from the past twelve months, it would be to quite simply give myself a break: none of us can be perfect all the time, and doing things wrong isn’t the end of the world.

My worst character trait is that I am self critical to the point of idiocy. An easy comparison is to Ruby Tandoh from The Great British Bake Off (remember Ruby?). When the papers slated Ruby’s endless self depreciation and humble outlook, I burnt a little metaphorical candle of empathy for her. In the past I too have been accused of being attention seeking and even psychotic for my repeated convictions of ‘I can’t do this, I’m so stupid’, but I’m sure dear Ruby would agree that self hatred isn’t a choice. Hopefully 2013 has seen something of an end to this – I’m trying, honest…

Another thing I’ve learnt is that there are a whole lot of negative people in this world (mostly middle aged – sorry) who will try and bring you down, and convince you to give up on your dreams, settling for something more mediocre. One thing I will always remember is an adult saying to me, age 17, ‘why do you always want the best of everything Ally? Why can’t you just settle for something more easily achievable?’

For now, I’ll be the one deciding what I can and cannot achieve.

I’ll leave you with a little quote that came to me via the Goddess that is Oprah Winfrey:

Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours

Also as a cheesy afternote, to my friends, family, and boyfriend who have pushed me to keep going when I’ve been ready to give up yet again: thank you, I love you all.

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