In the last days of 2016, I would like to take a step back and evaluate my achievements and disappointments during the last 12 months. I believe it’s necessary to look back and consider all the experiences that shaped my present ‘me’ before I can turn my sight to the future. We learn from our past, from the mistakes done and the right decisions taken.
I will not let myself evaluate my ‘yesterdays’ with grieve or regret because those feelings can never push you forward. The questions starting with a ‘what if I had…’ are simply a waste of time as we can never change the past or relive what’s already gone. We only have our present to live in, and our future – to dream about; therefore, the past experiences can only be a founding stone to build on, not a rock to hold on.
In this post, I will try to concentrate on what I have learnt and achieved in 2016. Of course, it’s not possible to consider every accomplishment or every lesson of those 365 days — each day has given a unique contribution to my becoming who I am in this very moment, small or big. Sometimes, we do not even recognize the little steps that had led us to a particular place but every moment has its meaning and its significance.
This year has been a year of many changes. I’ve learnt (to some extent) to let go what is ending and look forward to what is coming next. I have lived in three different places in three very different countries — the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Spain. I was accepted in one of the most prestigious private universities in Madrid, which is in the top ‘most desired’ places to do your exchange. My Spanish language is certainly not as good as I expected to have become after four months spent in Spain but on the other hand, due to speaking mostly in English, I became more confident in using this language for both professional and daily life.
While I was in Holland, I worked on a marketing project together with a friend where we developed a WordPress online shop for a fashion start up, and managed its social media presence for a couple of months. It also inspired me to take my hobby to a more serious level, and thus, I redesigned my online platform for original, personalized gifts Illie.co which has as a main product a dedicated poem. I’ve begun working with creative craft-makers and I’m planning on adding new products to our portfolio. I can proudly say that I have acquired social media marketing skills while working on those projects, as well as experience with WordPress, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Canva, Facebook and Instagram advertising, etc.
In 2016, I also had a three-month internship in a social media advertising agency ilyan.com (which has recently been renamed as The Dots Agency) where I further improved and perfected my planning and copy-writing skills, and gained know-how knowledge in this field.
What I value the most in this year, though, are the people who were involved in all those experiences. Starting to believe in myself and to acquire confidence in who I am and what I want, I also began to attract people and keep them instead of pushing them away with neediness, moodiness and persistence. I learnt that it’s important to know where you stand and what exactly it is that you need in order to determine your relationship with a person. Moreover, I’m trying to get over my shyness and lead better conversations with diverse kinds of people, to open up and speak my mind because I know that my thoughts are valuable — but only when it is time to confess and share them. Too much or too less is never good, and we must find the balance.
Sometimes, people need to leave in order to make space for something new to arrive. In this year, I had to say ‘goodbye’ so many times — and to people who really mattered to me. I learnt to let go, to let people continue on their ways and to let myself keep walking on mine. I have managed to live in the moment, and to find my long-desired peace of mind, to disengage from a harmful relationship that could never bring me forward but has only been holding me back, to set my heart free from a feeling that has brought me happiness but too much pain, as well. I will never regret any moment spent with this person but then, it was finally time to move on.
I feel grateful for 2016, and its experiences and opportunities. I feel grateful for the little moments and the big times of happiness. It has taken a lot from me, and has given a lot in return. I feel grateful for the New Year’s Eve, for my birthday party, for all the joy in the house where I’ve lived in Holland, for the road trip to Dusseldorf with friends, for the successful and failed internship interviews, for working in Ilyan.com, for the calm and loved summer, for all the amazing memories made in Spain, for my personal achievements and all the inspirational people I met and all the friendships I built.
I do not want to think of ‘what could have been’ but I’d rather focus on ‘what it was’ and ‘what it will be’. When I think about 2016, it brings me the feeling of accomplishment and a little bit of sadness. And it’s perfectly okay — because nothing will ever matter if we do not feel miserable at times. Maybe the most important lesson I have learnt in this year is to take some time to live my pain and my disappointments, and free my mind after that, not giving them the change to come back and haunt me again, to distract me from what I want to achieve.
I feel ready to set new goals or to find new ways to pursue my old ones, to continue designing a life which I enjoy living and to gain new experiences, both good and bad. I am ready to face the challenges of 2017, to dive into its adventures and take the most out of every moment. Because our life is nothing more but this very moment.
I’m ready to devote 2017 to loving myself more, to fighting my insecurities and trusting my inner side. Are you?
PS. Take time to evaluate your experiences in 2016… and why don’t you share them with us in the comment box?