Dear Alys from 2017,
There are aspects, both big and small, that define our lives during any one moment; years down the line, these characteristics that shaped us can be forgotten even if they had the power to significantly change us in ways that resonate fifty years beyond the initial impact. This open letter is a collection of musings from and about you, at 19 years old, written on a cold winter night a couple of weeks away from tipping into the unknown of 2018.
So the music setting the scene for you this year, according to Spotify, was dominated by Banks, The 1975, Sigrid, The Academic, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Twenty One Pilots, Years and Years, Walk The Moon, and surprisingly Kanye West. I never thought that would happen. It’s kind of embarrassing that One Direction seemed to have
comfortably got into scraped into your most played songs of 2017 as well, I am ashamed of you.
You went to a one-day festival in Summer, Brighton Pride 2017, and got to see Years and Years live – you were almost in tears they were so good: you should probably try to get to a proper weekend festival at some point soon. You did get yourself to two concerts in 2017, that’s not many compared to your average rate, but they were so so good it makes up for it: Banks in London as a present to yourself, The Kooks in Brighton for your boyfriend’s birthday.
You watched many amazing documentaries about travel, veganism and politics, a few good films at the cinema (La La Land and Detroit for example) and the best show ever to be created – Bojack Horseman on Netflix. I don’t think you’ll ever be able to express how much you loved that show. You’re not as into YouTube as you were a few years ago, but you do pop on there ever now and then.
You’ve not done well at reading this year – it’s been like this for a couple of years now. You adored reading as a kid and could sit still for hours absorbed in another world. I think you should try hard at this in 2018. Reading makes you happy, you forget that frequently.
You have read a lot of textbook chapters though – I’m so proud of you for starting a Sociology degree, that’s incredible. You’re really interested in the content of what you’re learning, less so in the amount of essays you have to write. They can make you quite anxious, I know. I think that’s something you’ll learn to get better at though.
Working full time in a busy gelato shop was a lot for you to handle, you weren’t the biggest fan of summer this year, seeing it from the perspective of an ice cream scooper in a popular holiday destination, but you got through it and came out the other side with a bit more money.
Sweden was a weirdly eventful break in the middle of all of that, an island of holiday in a sea of fast-paced work. And your American friends came to stay for a few days! Those were probably some of the best days of 2017, they’re lovely people you’re very lucky to know.
You also managed to go to India this year?! That was overwhelming, but such a great experience: it opened your eyes to a lot of issues still prevalent in modern day society and exposed you to uncomfortable facts about the world we live in. Pushing your thinking to and beyond it’s comfort zone boundaries is good though, that’s how you learn and grow and create change. And you also saw so many beautiful things.
October brought with it the unexpected job interview for a new opportunity in the new year. And you got it. You controlled the anxiety and self-diminishing thoughts and did exceptionally well, that’s something I want you to hold onto.
You struggled a little trying to settle back into a place in the family home: independent travel gave you a taste for coping alone as an adult, one that tempts you, yet in no real way you can act on right now. That’s sometimes confusing: half of you feels pretty mature, the other feels like a kid. You value your parents but perhaps not enough, they’re amazing people who have given you so many opportunities in life.
You’re nearly one year into your first relationship, how does that feel? You are so lucky, I hope you never lose that ability to feel such appreciation and happiness.
Friendship on the other hand, has been a big struggle for you in 2017. A lot of confusion and hurt has led to you hiding away – to the detriment of other friendships. You wanted to build stronger bonds but became too scared of the consequences of another one falling apart. You’re trying to change this though.
You feel a little restless; the wanderlust growls every now and then, whining about the fact you’re not booking any trips. You’re not sure how to handle that.
This year you’ve learnt a lot about yourself, your strengths, passions and limitations, your capacity to feel so many emotions. Sometimes it gets to you, how intensely you feel, but that’s something you’re learning about. You’ve started trying to notice gratitude more, and focus on the negatives less. It’s hard retraining thinking patterns; you have a long way to go.
On another note, you finally cut your hair (kind of) short! And made a DIY bed frame out of free pallets, that was cool. And self-taught yourself the basics of embroidery.
You’ve had a big obsession for plants this year, and bought quite a few for your room – they look great with your fairy lights, I approve. You still give yourself a hard time for spending money on ‘unnecessary’ things, it would be nice if you could let go of that feeling a little bit next year.
Your favourite dinner is probably vegan lasagna, you invented a really delicious recipe at the start of the year and it’s pretty special. Chocolate, chickpeas, rice milk, marmite, baked beans, pasta and broccoli are all still big features in your diet – not all at the same time though.
2017 was the year you got your first pair of dungarees and your first pair of
second-hand Levi’s; jumpers are still your most favourite piece of clothing though. Yellow, from pale to mustard, is your new favourite colour for clothes.
You try to eat well some of the time, you manage to sleep well most of the time. You watch TV shows a little too much and probably don’t do creative things enough.
Although you did finally do something productive with your love for writing: you started a blog and you’ve remained dedicated to it (albeit rather early into the process to be calling it a success). That’s one of the things I’m most proud of you for doing this year.
This year has been loaded with a lot of uncertainty, a touch of spontaneity, a dollop of anxiety, a sprinkle of inspiration, a punch or two of sadness and handfuls of laughter. There have been plenty of smudges darkening 2017, like circular coffee stains leaving reminders of the past on the tabletop, but I think you’re ending the year in a much better state than you started it, and for that you should be proud of yourself.
I wonder how much of this letter will be just as relevant next year, or in five years, or in ten?
Have a good 2018 Alys, come back to read this in 365ish days and let me know what you’ve been up to.
Love from Alys.
Want to read more Blogmas posts? Scroll to the bottom of Day One for the full list.
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