Life,  Travel

Catching Up | 2019 Review | 2020 Look Forward

     So I’ve been planning to write this post, or versions of it, for ages now, but I just haven’t had the time or energy or motivation. The reason for which, will be explained as we go in this. In previous years, I’ve done separate reviews of the last year, and look forwards to the new one, but seeing as I’m about a month late, I’m just combining them into one big update. So this might be quite a long one!

2019-2020 text on Edinburgh Castle & Hogmanay fireworks background

     For a proper review, let’s go back to early 2019. I’ve been living in Edinburgh since late 2017 now, and have stayed in the same flat for that entire time. We’ve had flatmates come and go over that time, but actually at the start of 2019, there were four out of the five of us who had all been together for nearly a year by then. I was still working as a free tour guide for my friends’ company as well. Everything was more or less the same as it had been, and I was pretty content with that, as I felt like I was in a good place.

     I got a good bit of travelling in at the start of the year as well, with my trip to South Africa early on. It’s always exciting visiting new places, and I was well in need of that holiday, having been working a lot towards the end of 2018. When I got back, I was able to start taking more days off work as well, as the company was growing and we were able to take on more guides. I took another trip in May as well, spending a week in Croatia to see Dubrovnik and Split. And even back in Edinburgh, I was often out exploring areas I hadn’t been to before, and just generally enjoying my spare time.

    Towards the end of summer was when everything started to change. The second half of 2019 was intense, and I’ll be entirely honest – I was having a shit time. The first big thing was my parents deciding to move house. For some people, this is less of a big deal than it would be to others, and I haven’t lived with them full time (other than a couple of months when I returned from Asia), in about eight years now. But this was them leaving my childhood home, the place where I grew up – the farm that our family have had for over ninety years, the house my Dad was born in. This was a huge thing for us, and there were many reasons as to why they moved, which I do understand, but it still so hard. Their new house is lovely and still in the same part of the country, but packing up all my things from my old room, and saying goodbye to this place in August was absolutely heartbreaking.

    Then the next big change was the guys I work for, who run the tour company, informing me that they were both moving back to Spain. And that they wanted me to manage the company here. Obviously, from a career point of view, this was a big opportunity for me, which is why I said yes to doing it. But from a personal standpoint, I was so upset. The boys are not just my bosses, they are very good friends of mine, and I knew I was going to miss them so much when they left. Again, I completely understand their reasons, but the selfish part of me didn’t want them to go at all. And while I knew that this new job (which I do part time, alongside still doing tours) was going to be good experience and growth for me, I do not cope well with stress at all. The latter half of the year was a transition period, when I started taking on more responsibilities as they prepared to leave. I’ve never felt like a ‘real adult‘, and I still don’t know what I’m doing half the time, or really believe that I’m entrusted to manage a whole company like this, but here I am doing it now!

     And then, three of our flatmates moved out within months of each other, between September and December. As I said, four of us had been together for well over a year, and the fifth who moved in around April time, quickly became one we were all very close to. We had such a good arrangement, where we all got along so well, so to lose the three guys (I still have the other girl, who I’m very close to and we’ve lived together for two years now) was a massive upheaval within the flat. It takes me a long time to warm up to new people as well, so while our new ones are all super nice, it will still take me a while to get fully comfortable and adapted to our setup again. I started referring to 2019 as ‘the year everyone left’, as I had six friends (the five mentioned, plus one other who moved abroad earlier in the year) all leave Edinburgh, on top of my parents moving. The week leading up to Christmas was probably the worst, when the two I was closest to, who were the last to go, both left within days of each other, and I was with them both while packing up all their things.

     So it was intense. The second half of the year just sucked, in almost every way. Of course, I still have other friends here, and I’ve still been able to do other fun things, like our family trip to Rome, and going to a concert for the first time in ages. But it was just so much change, in such a short period of time. I don’t cope well with change ever, but it’s even harder when it’s not change that I chose for myself (like when I’ve moved countries etc). I understand why all of them made the choices they did, but I miss them all so much. And dealing with that, on top of the stress that this new job has brought, has definitely been taking its toll.

     I’ve started thinking about my mental health a lot more again. This was a big thing I had to deal with when I was living in Korea, and having such a bad time of things that I ended up moving country again. I definitely don’t want to hit that point again, and I don’t think I will as I do still have a good network of family and friends around me, albeit a bit smaller than before. But I’ve certainly had to start being more conscious of it again. We set very clear boundaries regarding work, days off and holidays etc for my new management role. As the boys and I are such good friends, the arrangement is quite relaxed in many ways, and it’s not like we have an office that I go into. For the most part, I do like this arrangement, and they’re far nicer bosses to have (it’s still weird to call them that, as they’ve always been my friends first and foremost, hence why I usually say ‘the boys’ instead) than others I’ve had in the past. But working from home and at odd hours means it can blur the lines of when I get my personal time, so I had to make sure there was clear division. I’ve also been carving out time for yoga, and I’ve started meditating (using the Calm app), and even trying CBD oil, all to deal with my stress, because I was feeling so anxious and on edge all the time. The longer I do this job, the more I’m getting used to it and being slightly less stressed, and the more time passes since everyone left, it starts to get easier, but I’ve still a long way to go to be as content as I was last year.

     The other big thing I’ve noticed is my personal time is less than it used to be, which was to be expected with these new responsibilities. But when I do have time off, I just don’t want to do anything. I make sure to do yoga and meditate, and I’ve been keeping up with my Spanish practice on Duolingo – anything where it keeps track of my daily streak seems to keep me doing it! But I haven’t been blogging or writing in any way really – my last post on my other website was forever ago! – I haven’t been playing piano or reading or even going out as much on my days off. I get tired and stressed and just so fed up, that I end up lazing around and watching Netflix more than anything else.

     So that’s part of my goal now for 2020. Since last year was really not my year, I’m hoping that this year will get better. I haven’t been off to a great start so far, since I was so busy with work around New Year – to the point where I had to take a sick day because I was so exhausted that I felt ill and nauseous. I’m still adapting to this new job, and to not having certain people here anymore, so that will still take a little more time. It was my choice to take on this new role though, as I know it will be good experience for me, and I need to do it for at least a year. But I still feel quite overwhelmed, and I’ve never been particularly career-minded or motivated, so I don’t want it to cost me the rest of my life. So I’m going to work on that balance again, and try to get back some of my motivation to do other things in my free time.

     It’s a fact of life that things will change, and people will leave, and time doesn’t stop for any of it. It’s hard, and I’ve been struggling. I’m not always great at sharing my emotions, but I will admit that I am missing people terribly right now. Yes, new people will come along – after all, everyone who left was someone I didn’t know at all two years ago! But I hate meeting new people, and I’m a slow burn when it comes to getting close to them. I’ve lost a couple this year who were so important to me that I cannot imagine anyone replacing their roles. But we have to keep going. I cannot change any of this, all I can do is accept it. It sucks and I don’t want to and part of me definitely wants to rewind to this time last year when I was in a much happier place. But I can’t. So I can’t dwell on that. I have to make the best of where I am now, and have faith that things happen for a reason, and that everything will work out as it’s supposed to. I have to believe in that idea, or I’d feel even worse right now!

     So where 2020 will take me is still a mystery at this point. 2019 certainly didn’t pan out as I had expected at all. All I know right now, is this work will keep me here at least until late this year. Beyond that, I don’t know. I doubt I’ll do it forever, but for exactly how long, I haven’t decided. I do think I want to live abroad again at some point, but the timeline on that has been pushed back now. I have some travel plans coming up this year already, and you’d better believe I want “business trips” to Spain to visit the boys. And I will keep going with my yoga and meditation, to try to keep myself sane, and try to find the time and energy for these other hobbies I used to enjoy. Besides that, who knows. I’ve never been one for planning far into the future anyway, but the last few years have definitely taught me that there’s no point, as you can’t control or predict what will happen. I just have to keep trying and learning and doing and growing, and I’ll find a way to keep muddling through life.