I can remember where I was on New Year’s Eve 2009. My very dear friend Egan had invited a few people round to see in the New Year in his caravan. A nice enough invitation, but I was a grumpy teenager and I always got annoyed with alcohol-based social interactions and everyone there was just going there to get drunk. I know there’s a picture from the night of me staring into space while two people hold a beer bottle to my mouth. After a few hours I got bored and decided to head home – which was probably pretty rude of me, because it wasn’t even midnight yet. I then went home and saw in the new year playing The Legend of Zelda. Good game.
If I were in that same situation today, I’d probably stay longer. It’s strange to me that I wasted an opportunity to spend time with valued friends. But what’s interesting is that I didn’t really see that New Year’s Eve as anything particularly important – however, if I had known everything that the 2010s would bring me, I’d have been out of my mind with excitement for all the things which lay ahead.
It’s hard to know where to begin when summarising the past decade, because it contains the majority of my most significant life experiences. Let’s start with what is most important to me and what has always been most important to me: friendship. In 2010, I had only a very small circle of close friends and because I already had them, I rarely felt the need to make new friends and was always reluctant to meet new people. Ten years later and I’m somebody who is regularly told that they have an unusually large number of friends. In 2013, my friend Tulin told me that I was missing out because of this attitude, after I petulantly told her that I didn’t want to go somewhere to meet new people, because I already had enough friends. I thought about it for a long time and I realised I had been wrong. A small circle of friends had just lead to me feeling sad and lonely whenever they had to go away. Now I’m glad to have a large circle of friends; with each relationship significant, meaningful and irreplaceable to me.
This decade has also been productive in other ways and I’m quite proud of many of the achievements I’ve made this year. I successfully completed the challenge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in both 2010 and 2017. I was pretty pleased with my A Level results in 2011, which allowed me to go to Bath Spa University – graduating in 2014 with good results. My career started in 2010 with a job as a dinner lady and by now I’m doing a pretty good PR job – which I’m glad about, but my career has always been secondary to my personal life. Oh, also, I learned how to drive. And blocked by my local MP for telling people about her appalling voting history. Oh my – and most excitingly, my favourite author Earl Hamner (creator of The Waltons) offered to buy me dinner should I ever be in his part of the world. I never was and he died, which is sad, but at least I got the offer!
Along with my first job and first published writing, there were many other ‘firsts’ this decade: my first visit to Nando’s, first visit to Scotland, first time on a plane, first time attending a wedding, first time going to a baby shower, first e-book on a Kindle (a big step for me, a lover of printed books), first time meeting internet friends in person, first time meeting actors from The Waltons and Doctor Who, first time drinking tea, first time drinking coffee and probably a whole bunch of other things too.
Something that needs its own paragraph is the fact that this is the decade in which I finally moved to Bath – just six months ago, in fact. I’ve wanted to do this very badly for at least eight years and even before then, it was something I imagined I would do eventually. I was walking along after a swim this summer, when my friend Sophie texted me saying she spotted a really nice and affordable place in Bath and wondered if I’d like to live there with her. Two weeks later, I was moving in! Sophie is a dear friend of six years and a few of my friends advised me that living with a friend was a bad idea and that the friendship would ultimately be damaged – thankfully, they seem to have been wrong. I think that living together has actually made us closer and it’s a very cosy and comfortable living situation – I am delighted.
So that’s the 2010s. This blog post has been all about pretty big and significant things, but it’s the small moments and experiences which are probably the most valuable. Tulin and I putting up fake Missing Cow posters on the university campus, Dalfino, Christian and I waiting three hours for the bill in a restaurant, trying wasabi sauce for the first time in a London park with Mairi, joining Chloe and Liam for a murder mystery, my first all you can eat restaurant with Ben, dancing to Motown music with Sarah and Edward, leading a bunch of people in a night club by doing a Donkey Kong dance, gorging myself on Amy’s delicious cupcakes, watching an Anthony Nanson performance with David, binge watching Assassination Classroom with Rhino Water, strolling along a secluded beach with Rory, having a wonderful time with everyone at Hayley’s wedding, enjoying every episode of Oscar’s phenomenal Pro-Gamer series, expanding my board game horizons with Alex and Sam, keeping drunken Egan safe after nightclub shenanigans, a day at the London aquarium with Sophie, having a glass of wine which was actually nice with Stephanie, exploring a shop of old clothing with Kat and Leo, having fun making silly facial expressions with my colleagues as we dealt with difficult customers in a call centre – oh my, I must stop there and not because there’s nothing more to mention, but because this paragraph is already too big and I could go on for ages. Sorry to anyone I didn’t mention; it doesn’t mean you’re any less important.
Thank you, everybody. Comparing the me of today with the me at the start of 2010, I can see that I’ve gained so much – in every possible way. I can only wonder about where I might be in 2030, but right now life feels almost like a fanfiction, with everything happening just as I always wanted and while there will imevitably be hard times again at some point, I know that they will soon pass.