And, just like that, it was the end of 2018!
2018: In a nutshell? A thoroughly mixed bag, for me. The year started off badly, and continued that way for three months or so. After that, I had a fantastic summer, where I was happier than I’ve felt in years.
So, today, I thought (while you’re probably nursing a hangover and don’t feel like reading anything at all, let alone 2000+ words) I’d share a bumper bunch of life lessons that I picked up throughout 2018, along with my highlights, some stats, and your favourite blog posts of the year, as well as mine! (Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a long one!)
Oh, AND, I thought it’d be really nice to share some of my favourite photos from last year to go along with this blog post!
Anyway, let’s crack on, shall we?
Take social media with a pinch of salt.
Just because someone looks like they’re doing well and feeling happy on social media, it doesn’t mean that they are. If we all took the time to look beyond the facades we put up online, I think we’d realise not everything’s as good as it’s made out to be. Perhaps we’d reach out more. We’d be decent friends. We wouldn’t leave things to chance, and let our loved ones suffer without our support, just because they look like they’re having fun and coping with things.
Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Memories are more important than possessions.
You’re not going to regret refraining from buying the latest camera on your deathbed, are you? But you’ll probably regret not making lasting, happy memories. There’s more to life than consumerism and having the latest BIG THING on the market.
Are blogs dying?!
A statement that pretty much every blogger cried this year, and one that I had to gag myself from uttering a couple of times too. It’s a statement that rings true for a lot of us, with decreasing numbers of readers and a rapidly depleting attention span in general, but I’m hoping that it’s more of a blip, rather than a permanent end to blogs as we know and love them.
Blogs might be dying right now, and bloggers might be quitting left, right, and centre, but there’ll come a time when the things that’ve hit them the hardest will start to crumble too. (I’m looking at you, Insta.)
Perhaps we should just hang on in there and hope for the best?
Life really is too short.
People can be gone in the blink of an eye. Make sure they know how much you care before they do.
Getting steamy is incredible for my skin.
(Get your minds out of the gutter, please…)
The best thing that’s ever happened to my skin is steaming it. I’ve documented my skin problems over the years on here, and I never thought my skin would be this clear without resorting to strong medication or expensive dermatological treatments. Turns out it was something far, far cheaper that sorted it right out!
I started using a steamer this summer and my acne has practically disappeared, plus my eczema has dramatically reduced too. All it took was a face steamer that was less than twenty quid from Argos. If I’d have known it was that simple, and cheap, I’d have bought one years and years ago!
Blogging should be enjoyable.
If it’s not, you’ll feel like quitting. If it feels like a chore, you’ll struggle to motivate yourself to write. If it feels like no one’s reading, it’s so disheartening that it’ll deter you too. If it takes shaking things up and getting right back to basics to get you enjoying it again, then do it.
Perhaps stepping away from the glossy and magazine-like designs and content, and harking back to the ‘good old days’ from 2014 of ‘Mani Mondays’ and simple diary posts, is what we all need.
I’ve learned, this year in particular, that treating my blog as a ‘job’ is the wrong tactic. It doesn’t pay the bills for a start, and it probably never will. I need to accept that and focus on enjoying it more.
Take photos of days out. Anything out of the ordinary. Anything that IS ordinary too. Video things. Edit together little ‘vlogs’ for your blog, your Stories, or just yourself. Print your photos. Just document everything. You’ll forget so many lovely memories otherwise.
I know I’ve already got form for this, but I realised the importance of this more than ever this year. When a loved one passed away in February, we realised, amongst our massive family, that we only had two photos of him. That was all. It’s not enough.
So, take that photo of your Mum. Snap your Dad, especially while he’s Dad Dancing. Stick a camera in your friend’s face, even though she hates it, because there’ll be a day when those people aren’t there any more, and you’ll thank yourself that you have some photos to remind you of all the wonderful memories you once shared.
(@allthatisshe has started doing a fantastic thing called #my15secondday where you film snippets of your day and edit them into one 15 second Instagram Story. Imagine how lovely (and fast) it’d be to look back at those at the end of each week/month/year!)
…But, don’t live your life through a lens.
I am pretty awful for always having a camera to my eye whenever anything important’s cracking off. 2018 was certainly no exception to that. (Even though I vowed I’d stop, I failed miserably.)
I go to gigs and watch the band predominantly through my phone screen. (Then kick myself for not ‘being in the moment’, whilst simultaneously patting myself on the back for getting some CONTENT ripe for Instagram Stories to prove to the people who follow me that I can indeed occasionally leave the house and do vaguely interesting things.)
What I’m trying to say… (albeit not very well, or concisely) is that you should definitely make sure that you capture important moments, but not at the expense of actually experiencing those moments in all their glory.
By all means, snap away, but do remember to put the bloomin’ camera down eventually.
Being kind to yourself is a revelation.
After years of beating myself up, with dollops of daily self-loathing and self-depreciation thrown in for good measure – I’ve tried to start being a little kinder to myself.
Slowly, but surely, I’m starting to realise when I need a break. When I need to sleep. When I need to put my phone down and relax. When I need to get off Instagram. When I need to stop trying to force a blog post out. I’m not there yet, but I hope I’ll get even better at this during 2019.
You can’t help everyone.
But if you can help someone who needs it, you should. We need to be kinder to one another in these fraught and tense times.
So, if you’re going to be anything, be kind.
(I’ve even listed 10 selfless things you can do right this second, if you feel like putting it into practise right now!)
Live for the little things.
Life isn’t about the grand gestures. Learning to appreciate the little things goes a long way to making you feel a little happier every day. (You didn’t need me to tell you that, did you?)
My little things include: bubble baths, bokeh-laden photos, exploring new places with a camera in my hand, flowers adorning the fireplace, Cookie fussing me, a never-ending supply of steaming hot mugs of tea, getting enough sleep, time away from my phone in the evening, fairy lights and candles, not being in a rush (which I invariably am every single day), train journeys through the Peak District. The list is endless when you realise that you need to stop and appreciate the little things.
A note about timewasters.
Stop wasting your time on people who don’t appreciate you. People who make you run after them, who talk down to you, and who generally make you feel like rubbish don’t deserve a place in your life. Move on from them, you’ll feel so much happier for it. If someone makes you feel like you need to bend over backwards to please and impress them, they’re not worth your time.
Similarly to the last point, if someone is happy not to bother putting the effort into a friendship/relationship, and you are, the skewed nature of that relationship will eventually erode it.
You can’t waste your energy always chasing a friend or loved one all the time. It’s too exhausting. If they’re happy not to bother arranging meet ups, if they’re content with never texting first, if they’re happy to leave it weeks or months at a time without seeing you, but you feel like you want or need more, then make a break for it.
You deserve more than to be an afterthought to someone who you’re more devoted and loyal to.
Both of the above photos are from the first instalment in my 35mm Diaries series.
You don’t have to put up with creeps.
I haven’t really talked about this much online, for fear of a backlash from the person in question, but, here goes! Towards the latter half of 2017, and at the start of 2018, I bagged myself a cyberstalker (hi, if you’re reading this!) who started to hang around in the places I’d posted on Instagram, presumably in the hope of ‘bumping’ into me. This was after I thought I’d dropped enough hints that I didn’t want to meet him after he slid into my DMs… He appeared to be quite a lot older than me and went out of his way to follow me across several online platforms, to the point that it felt incredibly intrusive.
Now I’m unable to venture to those places alone. I’ve only been to my home city three times during 2018, and I’ve been accompanied every time because it’s the area that this guy frequents. I still don’t feel safe going there alone. So, no, you don’t have to look like Angelina Jolie or be famous to attract people who can’t respect your personal boundaries, as I previously thought.
Just because you share a little more of your life online than most, does not mean to say you deserve to be treated like this. Creepy behaviour is never okay. The final straw was after I posted a photo from the inside of a coffee shop, looking out towards the window. It was a latergram, like all of my IG photos are, so I wasn’t actually there at the time, thankfully. He went straight there after I posted it, stood outside and posted a photo of the window, looking in, before sending a DM to tell me he was there.
If the same happens to you, screenshot everything. Back it up in several different places, on different hard drives, in the cloud, and print it off too. Write a diary of how it’s made you feel, with dates and times of anything significant. Block them, if you haven’t already. Don’t engage with them, even if it’s to tell them to leave you alone. And if you feel really unsafe, tell your family and friends immediately and go to the police. You shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable just because someone can’t take the hint to leave you alone.
(You can also contact the National Stalking Helpline from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust here.)
A few little personal highlights of 2018
Seeing Blossoms (twice), getting to watch The League of Gentlemen Live (sublime night!), shooting on film again, devouring more books from cover to cover than I have done for years, stepping on THE cobbles, finally getting to see the wonderful theatrical tour de force that is War Horse, my skin clearing up way more, taking back a little bit of power from others and discovering the importance of the ‘block’ button online, getting a free replacement hard drive from Apple, building up my camera kit more, THAT GORGEOUSLY LONG HOT SUMMER, learning to be calmer and more grateful in a world that’s increasingly full of tension and angst, getting mistaken for an under 16 and being sold a child’s bus ticket on the way to the first Blossoms gig despite being 26! (The ol’ retinol is clearly doing wonders), realising my worth more, putting some of the hurt and negativity of last year behind me, learning to be kinder to myself, and completing Blogtober!
2018: Number Crunching
5737 – the number of minutes I spent listening to Spotify.
54 – the number of different TV shows and films I watched on Netflix this year.
71 – the number of blog posts I published on Katie Writes this year.
118 – the number of Instagram photos I posted.
2 – the number of gigs I went to. (Definitely need to go to more in 2019!)
17.7k – the number of Instagram likes my photos got.
2 – the number of plays/shows I went to see. (Again, I definitely need to go to more this year!)
4 – The milestone birthday that this blog hit!
5 – the number of English cities I explored. (Yeah, I really need to get out more, don’t I?)
Your top posts of 2018 on Katie Writes
My Favourite Blog Posts To Write in 2018!
So, that’s it for 2018!
All that’s left to say is…
Thank you SO much for reading this blog throughout the year. Every single view means so much to me. (Honestly, you have no idea how surprising and wonderful I find it that you’re still reading my inane ramblings after four years!)
I hope that 2018 was kind to you, and I really hope that 2019 is going to be even lovelier for you!