Back in January I had this great idea of what 2016 would be. I decided (in a cliché way) that this year would be about me. What that meant was that I didn’t want to get into any kind of serious relationship, I didn’t want to stress or make decisions around other people, and I wanted to live by myself. I’m a reluctant introvert, and 2016 was about embracing that side of me.
What I actually did wasn’t all that introverted. I did make 2016 about me by doing all the things I wanted to. I learned new skills, shed a few pounds (sixteen to be exact), changed my look and made some very positive differences to my mood. But I also made new friends, went on adventures, had plenty of rubbish dates and even attempted that relationship thing. Huge mistake. But I learned from it all, and the highs were really pretty incredible:
When I was at university, I would start every new term by saying that I would finally try a dance society. I wanted to learn tango and that was that. But I never did it, because I was lacking so much confidence at university. In January 2016, around one month after I graduated from my masters and said goodbye to uni life forever, I enrolled in a Bollywood dance class. I absolutely loved it – and I was good at it! I’ve grown up surrounded by people who told me that university would be the time of my life and it all went downhill after that – I’m not at all sorry to say that it went entirely the opposite way for me. It just keeps getting better!
I have always loved writing, and it’s no secret that my science degree left me feeling a little flat creatively. I used my blog as an outlet (back then it was Sam Loves Cake), and I quickly decided that as amazing as science is, the lab was not for me. I wanted to write, and I needed to gain the skills and know-how to make a career out of it. I took a ten-week journalism course around my full-time job, and I came out with a distinction. I was feeling pretty ecstatic.
I never win anything, but I also rarely enter any competitions. When I did, I actually won! I got myself two tickets to The Arches launch party where I drank lots of nice alcohol, ate good food and got my face drawn on a wall. It was pretty special.
My first time in Italy, and my first holiday with my best friend. Yes, I moaned everywhere we went because I was missing a sea breeze to survive the mid-summer heat; but I also had an incredible time eating food, soaking up the city and walking absolutely everywhere. We landed in Rome the day Brexit happened – and we kind of just wanted to stay there.
I wouldn’t exactly call this a highlight, but it was certainly memorable. My first music festival was in Wales, Festival No.6. On paper, it looks like the best medium-sized, quirky festival out there. In reality, it was a poorly organised mud bath with a questionable line-up. But I could see the potential…What I did take from this is that I love my new tent. More camping trips in 2017?
This was a big one for me, and something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I moved into a slightly decrepit old Edinburgh flat and made it beautiful with my own furniture, kindly donated by family or uncovered in a city junk shop. Living by yourself is something I would encourage everyone to do at least once in their life, because it gives you room to breathe and think about what you want to do. And you can make the place look however you want!
One of my biggest personal breakthroughs of 2016 was seeing a massive drop in my anxiety levels. Living alone, taking time for myself and bringing new friends into my life really helped with this. I systematically left behind any bad influences and only made room for the people and things that made me feel good. And then, I was finally ready to write this blog piece. It just happened, and I was astounded by the messages that came from it – especially from people who found it so relatable.
You don’t often meet a friend like Hassan, but when you do, it’s proof that you are indeed very lucky. Hassan drove me up to Aberdeenshire to this amazing Bothy that we’d picked out online. We went at Halloween to escape the craziness of work and daily life, and to celebrate both our birthdays. If I could spend every Halloween like this I would – we stargazed, lit a log fire, ate lots of food and watched scary movies. It was perfect! (He also created that amazing header photo with Edinburgh Castle!).
This was one of those, ‘why didn’t I do this sooner?’ moments. I chopped off my hair and never felt better.
Anyone who knows me will know that birthdays are a big deal. It doesn’t matter if it’s my birthday or somebody else’s, a celebration is in order. But, if it is my birthday, that celebration usually goes on for several days at a time…I had the best time this year! And my Mum made yet another spectacular cake for the occasion.