Like many other people, whenever the year draws to a close, I like to sit back and reflect on all the highs and lows of the past 12 months. After 2017, which I deemed the best year of my life at the time, and 2018 which, although mentally draining, brought some of my happiest moments, the bar was set very high. I kicked in the new year filled with hope and curiosity about what it had in store for me.
2019 made me realise Nick Jonas was definitely onto something when he named his last solo album Last Year Was Complicated. Looking back on the past year, I can say it was a whirlwind of emotions, new experiences, adventures, and moving further along on my journey of self-discovery. Of tackling my insecurities and daring to reach for my innermost dreams. Of blooming into the best version of myself I always wanted to be.
2019 was another year of working in the fashion industry and fine-tuning my personal style. It was plucking up the courage to chase my biggest dream and start this little corner of the Internet. It was celebrating small blogging successes and meeting many inspiring women along the way. It was raising a glass of champagne with my best friend as we cruised along the Seine and watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle right in front of our eyes. It was standing on Top of the Rock as the New York skyline stretched beneath my feet, feeling more alive than I had in a very long time.
But 2019 wasn’t just prancing around the streets of New York in pretty dresses and smiling for the camera. It was also crying myself to sleep, hoping nobody else could hear me. It was my demons rearing their ugly heads, filling me with self-loathing and self-doubt. It was battling my insecurities, questioning my life choices, and wondering what direction to take next. It was standing in the middle of Victoria Station unable to form words as tears filled my eyes and my vision became blurry.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that nobody’s life is perfect and everyone has their struggles. Having ups and downs essentially means that we are alive – if you don’t believe me, just look at an electrocardiogram graph. So, without much further ado, here’s a breakdown of everything that happened in 2019:
I turned 25 in January 2019 and let me tell you – quarter-life crisis is REAL. I spent a considerable portion of the year just flailing around and questioning my life and career choices. In order to follow my passions, I had to do some serious prioritising and as a result, I let fitness fall by the wayside. I went from working out 5-6 times a week to barely making time to exercise at all, which caused my self-image issues to reappear. Throughout the entire year, I felt stuck in a rut and my frustration with the area where I live became louder than ever. While I still haven’t found the answers to the questions that have been bothering me, I’m hopeful that the new year will bring some clarity and peace of mind.
In terms of friendship, this year was rather bittersweet. Back in May, I watched my university roommate marry the love of her life. I’ve been there since day one of their relationship and watched their love grow and evolve over the years, so seeing her go from “What does that guy want from me?!” to “I do” was nothing short of magical. Three months later, my best friend Sarah left London and moved back to Australia. Saying our goodbyes in the middle of Victoria Station, not sure when we were going to see each other again, was one of the hardest things I had to do.
2019 also made me realise that it’s perfectly normal for people to drift apart over time and sometimes it’s better to let go. Ever since I started my blog, I’ve kept a close eye on those who offered words of support, asked about my progress, or simply messaged me to ask how I was doing. I started slowly distancing myself from those who continually showed little to no interest in what was going on in my life or if I felt my effort was one-sided. I stopped asking them for life updates, became more curt in my responses, and said no to meetings I didn’t want to attend – and it was the most freeing thing. I love those friendships where you can go without talking for weeks and then pick up right where you left off – we all know life gets in the way sometimes. The point is to establish who’s truly there for you in the long run and shows genuine interest in keeping your friendship alive.
In terms of career, things have been rather stable. After starting my job as a Fashion Buyer’s Assistant in November 2018, I have remained in this role to date. If anything, 2019 showed me what skills unrelated to my job I would love to have and throughout 2020, I will be working hard to make it happen.
After talking about it for absolute ages, 2019 was the year I finally bit the bullet and launched my pride and joy. It gave me a sense of purpose and something to look forward to after a long day at work. While juggling a blog and a full-time job is rather challenging and requires a lot of compromising and prioritising, starting Into the Bloom was the best decision I made.
I also got to celebrate some small milestones along the way. After less than two months of running my blog, I received the news that I was invited to attend the biggest Polish festival for female creators and influencers. I had to reread that email a couple of times just to make sure my eyes didn’t fail me. Being surrounded by so many inspirational women gave me a much-needed boost and I left with some practical knowledge and inspiration to get my butt in gear.
But that’s not all, as December brought two more surprises. First, I bagged my very first brand collaboration, and then Christmas Eve saw a record number of users on my blog. I can’t thank you all enough and I promise I’m just getting started!
A big part of the reason why I deemed 2017 one of the best (if not the best) years of my life was the fact that I got to travel to many incredible destinations that I could previously only dream of. 2019 was definitely a close contender as I explored Europe and North America with my best friend and my boyfriend.
I held off travelling until March, but once I started, I couldn’t stay in one place for too long. I went to Warsaw to sort out my American visa and saw Florence and the Machine in Łódź. At the end of the month, I visited the beautiful city of Vienna where I developed a deep fondness for Kaiserschmarrn and took advantage of the world-famous coffee culture.
A month later, my best friend and I travelled to Oslo where we learned about Norway’s alcohol policies the hard way (note to self: always check the time before trying to buy alcohol). At the end of May, we did something we’d been talking about for years – we explored Paris together and did all of the cliché things you simply need to do when you’re in the City of Love. We walked the steps of Trocadero, ate Pierre Hermé macaroons on top of the Eiffel Tower and came back every single evening to watch it sparkle. We drank lots of French wine, cruised along the Seine and spent way too long trying to take the perfect shot in front of Arc de Triomphe without getting run over by oncoming cars.
Then, summer came and I was on the road again. In June, I went to Kraków to visit one of my closest friends and, as always, we had a wonderful time together. I also got to visit a bunch of local Polish cities. In August, it was time for a reunion with my beloved city of London to attend the Dior exhibition, shop in the brand new Covent Garden Boots store, and celebrate my best friend’s birthday before she went home.
I spent the following six weeks playing tourist in my city until my boyfriend and I set out on the big trip of the year – we went to Copenhagen, Toronto, and New York. My life-long dream of visiting the Big Apple finally came true and brought many pinch-me moments as I got to see the places I’d previously only seen in movies and live my best Holly Golightly life.
The end of the year brought a trip to Hamburg where I visited my first ever German Christmas market – something I am now determined to turn into a new tradition.
While it might not seem like a lot to some, I’m proud of the fact that I managed to do so much travelling around my full-time job and can only hope for an equally good 2020! Also, my mini guides to all of the places mentioned above are coming in the next year – watch this space!
Overall, I’m looking back on 2019 with fondness, as it helped me reevaluate my choices, recalibrate my focus, and provided some valuable life lessons along the way. I am healthy, surrounded by my loved ones, and I’m making memories that will last a lifetime – I genuinely couldn’t ask for more.
I feel like I always had my life planned out – graduate from high school, go straight to university, graduate with a Master’s degree, and find a job. I’d also been working towards my biggest goals of relaunching my blog and walking the streets of New York. Now that I’ve done all of the above, for the first time ever, I have no idea what direction my life is headed in, which is as scary as it is exciting. I’m looking to the future more hopeful than ever, excited to turn over a new page and leave all the worries behind when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.”
I would also like to hear from you – what are your favourite memories from 2019 and what life lessons will you be taking with you into 2020? Last but not least, I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year! I hope it brings you a lot of joy, love, and courage to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.
See you all in 2020!