2017 has been quite a year for me, laced with ups and equally as many downs. I felt as if the weeks kept passing and my mind was always playing catchup. A lot of what has happened to me or what I actually did and accomplished this year still hasn’t fully sunk in yet. The fact that 2018, a brand new year, is here in 4 days hasn’t really sunk in either. This year I’ve experienced, seen & grown a lot. Plus, this blog– a means of creative self-expression and sharing my adventures online to make Jamaica more accessible one place at a time, has also had a successful year. Today, Adventures from Elle is ONE FREAKING YEAR OLD! It feels a lot longer even though in the same breath one year seems so quick, but WordPress sent me the notif today to seal the deal. Since her birthday is so close to the New Year, I thought I’d do a smash-up of both our years in one post– something I’ll make an annual habit of. With that, here’s my year in review:
Adventures from Elle’s Year
My first ever blog post was on Cane River Falls, a trip I did on December 16, 2016 but published on the 28th, the day I created this account. Initially I created a physical wanderlust journal, inspired to start seeing more of Jamaica after taking a trip to Reggae Falls in January of that year then spending the rest of it online scouting out and making notes of where I’d like to explore given the chance. I’ve kept previous blogs in the past too– nothing serious, but I’ve always loved writing. I’ve been writing ever since I learned how to. One day I came across Zoe’s blog detailing how to get to Cane River Falls then shared it with my boyfriend saying hey, this place isn’t inaccessible at all. We set off to find it on our holiday breaks and after that I became hooked. I couldn’t drive (then), had no access to a car (then), was broke & unemployed (still am) yet I managed to see a gem hidden in my parish to which few had been. That was my lightbulb moment. I realized aha! Exploring doesn’t have to be for the distant future when my money or transport woes get solved. I can start travelling now without much. I wanted other people to have that epiphany too and the rest is history.
According to my stats page to date, this lil’ infant has had 7,000+ views, 3,000+ visitors, 351 social media shares, 295 comments, 50 blog posts and 1 very fulfilled blogger. I’m glad people read my stuff and enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed exploring and writing. Travel writing is so much different from fiction writing. Writers’ block is impossible– the people and places I meet are the inspiration themselves. I suppose that scale must be even greater for those whose travels go beyond the shores of their homeland. It’s been a surprising year, I’ve veered far from my original bucket list and likely will again for 2018 because life is fluid. What I wanted to do yesterday changes tomorrow as new opportunities, life events and interests appear. This year I want to see and experience more of the mountains though. I hope at least that much gets fulfilled. 🤞
My dreams for this blog: getting a DSLR camera so my photos can give the places I visit better justice. I’d like a nice logo which sums up what my blog is about in one glance but I’m not good at graphics haha. If any kind soul reading this wants to design mine for free, let’s talk. 😁 Also, I do want to own the Adventures from Elle domain. I’ve done just about everything to the free domain of this site so it’s time to upgrade. For one reason or another I always seem to have to use my savings for something more important or urgent but all in good time! A.f.Elle ain’t even a full toddler yet. I’m super excited to see where she’ll be in another year’s time but of course, only time will tell. I don’t say it much but a million thanks to everyone who reads, comments, subscribes, messages me personally etc., both my online and in-real-life friends. You guys are amazing and it warms my heart when people say hey, I visited this place and that after reading your post on it. ❤
My Not-As-Stellar Year
Not to act as if the blog and adventures are separate from my life but if I were to lift wanderlust and writing completely from it for a second, my life is nowhere as stellar. I spent many weeks this year struggling emotionally. I didn’t do as good a job coping with stress as I’d have liked. I spent most of my free time idly scrolling social media and YouTube or glued to my cellphone distracted from reality. I barely read anything besides schoolwork or other bloggers’ work, I grew rather disillusioned with medical school and didn’t study as consistently as I should. I felt really trapped a lot. Medical school is a decision I probably had to make too early with how Jamaica’s education system is set up. I’m quite fortunate so I don’t mean to sound ungrateful– I do have the opportunity to graduate completely debt-free and I’ve made it past half of 4th year with zero fails or setbacks to date. However, I often found myself wondering how much different my life would be if I had chosen something else despite having no forefront alternative. I spent a lot of time (and money) comfort-eating which has been an issue of mine since grade eight of high school where I’d had quite a few identity/ internal struggles. I’d got it under control by sixth form (grade 12, age 17) but it reared its ugly head in my life again around last year. I’m not proud of that. In fact I’m sharing all this only to give a balanced review of my year, not that I owe anyone an explanation. I’m allowed to give the same smiling skewed social media representation of my life which most young people do but I’ve never been one to promote bullshit. To be honest, 2017 was the year I’ve felt the most lost in my life to date.
However, in the midst of it all, 2017 was a year of massive strides in self-growth. I learnt to drive this year, passed all my driving tests first try and gained quite a lot of driving experience and road confidence. I got the strength to remove a few stressors from my life as painful as it was (is). I’ve learnt to be more selfish to protect my mental health. I don’t feel guilty about missing plans or taking 12 hours to reply or never replying to a message anymore. I don’t care about posting pictures in something I’ve worn before since like most people, I have access to soap. I’ve not been excelling nor doing well in anything but I’ve been passing. I’ve never made and never will make Dean’s list but I’ve done just enough to keep my scholarship for 4 years now, and likely will for a fifth. I’ve not been perfectly well mentally but I’ve had lots of laughter, smiles and genuine people in my life this year. I’ve made new friends, don’t keep in touch regularly with the old but when we catch up every now and again, it’s like we never left off. I’ve deleted all but one Whatsapp group chat (except the school ones 😑) so I don’t get useless memes, videos, chain messages or unnecessary crap on my phone anymore. And sometimes, I’m happy. I genuinely am and every cell of my body feels alive. Rather than fight with myself for the times I’m not feeling happy, I’ve learnt to just be. I’m unlearning my perfectionist and overthinking ways. I’ve learnt that I do love medicine. I’ve had a few moments which remind me why I chose that field. I’ve had moments where I fully understood the management of a patient, I knew what the next investigations should be before they’re done and why, I understand the interpretation of the results and actively helped in managing a few cases–even emergencies. I’ve correctly elicited signs, trained my ears, hands and eyes to recognize things on my own and a bit faster than last year. I feel confident to do basic things like nebulizations, injections, venipuncture and obtaining intravenous access on my own and I’ve done many other things successfully under guidance. I’ve learnt that healing isn’t linear. Some nights I have to cry myself to sleep, feel OK again for hours, days or weeks then cry again ’bout the same damn thing. And most importantly, I feel less ashamed to be honest about myself and my frailties. I’ve learnt and almost accepted that superhumans aren’t real, just make-believe.
A few weeks ago I read a question somewhere which asked what year was the best year you’ve ever had and why, with the hopes that one would use it as inspiration to make the new year even better. 2014 was that year for me. I felt happier on more days than sad and the reasons for that are beyond the scope of this blog post. However, using the answers to that question and enlisting the help of my best friend, we’ve come up with simple habits we’re going to resume &/or do differently for 2018 & for life. I’m sharing two. We now have a 12am bed time unless it’s NYE, the week of finals, if we’re out partying (LOL), at the hospital in my case or any other activity keeping us housemice away from home. There’s zero reason to be up later than midnight– I mean honestly, can’t it stay till morning? Gen-Y gets no sleep then complains it’s always tired. I no longer want part of that life. Secondly, screen time after 11pm is now abolished. If I didn’t see the message or social media post by 11pm, it’s not worth seeing till the next day. With my smartphone and tablet gone, maybe now I’ll find the time to read that novel, book or scripture which I’m always putting off… or read some extra textbook pages.. or just get an hour’s extra sleep.
Let’s make 2018 our best year yet, our victory year in whatever private battles we’re fighting. It may not be all we hope it to be, but certainly whatever happens will be God’s plan and better than whatever we could’ve planned or anticipated. So much happened to me this year which had I been told on December 31, 2016 I would’ve laughed the messenger to scorn. Yet these things have come to pass in my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Let’s see what this crazy adventure called Life has up her sleeve for 2018. Whatever that may be let’s all approach it with positivity.
Two days left of the roundup series so ’til tomorrow, friends. ❤