At the end of the year, most people find themselves looking back on the events that have taken place previously, as well as hopes and plans for the future. For those who feel that this year didn’t quite go to plan – amongst other reasons – the festive season can be really tough, especially in the age of social media where it is difficult to get away from these kinds of things. Due to this, we feel that it is important not just to look back on the things that have happened in 2018, or the things to come in 2019, but beyond that as well. It is often the context around an event which makes it important, but it can also be easy to lose that context and therefore that importance if we are not putting things into perspective fully, or properly.
If I look at this year on a smaller scale, to be honest there have been some tough times. There have been a few times this year I’ve had to deal with some imposter syndrome, both in my professional and in my personal life. Those who have been following our social media know that there is the great tail saga still ongoing with Kat at the moment as well. And over the summer, there were quite a few disappointing moments on our trips where we weren’t able to do the things we had planned to do (at all). But you don’t appreciate the good times if you haven’t experienced the bad times that go with it. For me, accepting that is the key to being happy, calm, and I suppose what pertains to being a well-rounded person, too.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been using the same two mantras for any tough situation in my life. The first one I have been using is simply “you’re ok”, mostly because it is true. I’m still here and I’m still breathing. Therefore, I’m doing ok. These two words have always eased my mind and helped to calm me down. Since I first started doing this, I have stumbled upon countless research papers that state that if someone (including yourself) tells you something enough times, you start believing it. But sometimes simply telling myself that ‘I’m ok’ isn’t quite enough. On those days I implement my other mantra, “just keep going”. In the moments where I’m getting overwhelmed, perhaps starting to panic, becoming confused and a bit lost, this is what I tell myself, again and again. All I have to do is one thing, because just one thing is much more manageable than the million things I feel like I should bet thinking about in that moment. I just have to keep going. And you know what? That’s ok, because I’m ok. It’s a full circle, and it’s something that I find can be applied to pretty much everything in life. Good times, and bad times. One year, or ten years.
So instead of only looking back on the year just been and focussing on certain events, we are looking back about three years, to make sure that we maintain that perspective and context. At this point in time three years ago, we were getting ready for the penultimate round of exams of our final year at University. Andy and I hadn’t even met yet (or at least, not knowingly so), and we hadn’t yet accepted jobs to go to once we graduated. Andy hadn’t picked up the trusty steed that would later turn into KeVan – our first van conversion, and the idea of adopting a kitten was far from either of our minds!
If you’d have told me – three years ago – that by the time I was 25, I would have a mortgage and work as an engineer for a company that is a well-respected household name, I would have shaken my head in disbelief. If you’d have told me that I’d be passionate about van conversions and had travelled to 15 different countries in one, I would have laughed at you. If you’d have told me that my hobbies of exploring the great outdoors by any means necessary would be supported by three incredible companies and that I’d be helping to raise money for a brilliant charity as well, I would have started walking away. And if you’d have told me that I’d have two incredible partners to support me through everything (yes alright, one of those partners is really furry and sometimes likes to scratch the furniture), I would have closed the door on my way out. So much can happen in a short space of time, that it’s so easy to forget just how far we have come. Before Andy and I met, we were on a very different life path to the one that we now find ourselves on. But we always try to remember where we’ve come from, and hold onto those goals of where we are going. Otherwise you risk losing the point of it all, and you risk not giving yourself the appreciation you deserve for the skills, relationships and experiences you have built along the way. Even if it’s not that obvious to anyone else.
So over this festive season, make sure to look after yourselves, and be conscious of others. Everyone is different, not all of social media is the truth, and it’s ok if 2018 didn’t go to plan. 2019 is on its way and a good life isn’t measured by whether or not the previous year was in general ‘good’. It’s measured more by the experiences a person has over many years – both the good, and the bad. So the next time you reflect back on a year go by, remember to put it into context – the context of you, and you alone. Life is not a competition with anyone other than yourself, and we wish you all the best for the year(s) ahead.
Oh and remember. You’re ok. Just keep going.