2017, a year of change, risk and growth

This time last year, I was sat on a bed in a place I called ‘home’ in Kemp Town, intensely typing on my keyboard, for a blog post titled ‘Fuck you and thank you, 2016’.

I don't remember a lot about New Years Eve last year, but I do remember the anger I felt when I was writing that post. And, as much as I suppressed it at the time, total heartache.

I rounded off the post and silenced my volatile emotions with a promise that I would do things “my way” in 2017.

If I looked hard enough, I think I could find diary entries, blog posts, tweets, MySpace statuses and possibly even songs on my painfully cringe bandpage making the same promise every year.

You'd probably find the same too.

But, I kept my promise this year.

A rather dramatic but somewhat fitting final goodbye photo to my full time employment life, taken by Adam at mpb.com.

A rather dramatic but somewhat fitting final goodbye photo to my full time employment life, taken by Adam at mpb.com.

I started writing this annual reflective post on a 4 hour journey to Exeter, with my iPad balancing on my crossed knees, to welcome the new year with people I didn't even know this time last year.

Home is now a flat in 7 dials with an incredible woman who welcomed me into her world with open arms, teaching me the importance of balancing red wine nights and “holistic” living (i.e. gym schedules and locking yourself away from all temptations when you really need a night in).

And, to state the obvious, my entire career is different now - I regularly flit between calling myself the "Founder of the City Girl Network" and a content creating / creative digital strategising / web designing freelancer. I've become that person where the words 'tax' and 'self assessment' have made me shudder at this time of year.

Taken by Isa Rowbotham during my visit to Bristol in June for the launch of Bristol Girl!

Taken by Isa Rowbotham during my visit to Bristol in June for the launch of Bristol Girl!

I don't think it's neither fair nor true for me to say that years previous to this one haven't been full of change. In fact, the last 8 years of my life have been completely unique from one another.

But this year, the thing that changed was me. Or, rather, my actions.

Taken by the lovely Sofaya Hussein during our trip to see the Edinburgh Girls in June.

Taken by the lovely Sofaya Hussein during our trip to see the Edinburgh Girls in June.

I quit my job to start up a business. I walked away from situations where I felt trapped. I said ‘yes’ to things I wanted to do and ‘no’ to things I didn't, even if I was worried what people would think.

And I opened up about some home truths I'd been scared to face, to people I was nervous to be raw with.

My entire year has been made up by a series of risks - and it's led to one hell of an adventure.

It’s been hard. I went through months of homelessness, health scares, financial struggles and relationship breakdowns. I suffered from writer's block in ways that I never have before, and went through moments where I thought I'd leave my “writers dream” behind.

But I'm glad I went through it - because it changed me for the better.

My summer of chaos highlighted the values, ethics and lifestyle that I viewed as important. At a time when I had very few materials around me, I learnt that clichè yet valuable lesson that life can be richer when you become poor. 

A snap from my last photoshoot back in October with the very talented Ines Veiga Pena.

A snap from my last photoshoot back in October with the very talented Ines Veiga Pena.

Whilst that summer has played a huge part in shaping my year, I don't want to shy away from the months around it.

The City Girl Network was registered as a business on 13th March, growing from 1 to 6 cities over the course of a year, with the most amazingly talented women and men helping to bring this beauty to life.

I've visited Bristol, Spain, Berlin (twice), Edinburgh, Birmingham and now Exeter - where I'm now writing this post on my laptop at the top of Boston Tea Party. 

And the friendships that I've grown with both new and old friends this year have been incredible. 

My only regret is that Pippa Says has taken a back seat - partly because of time, but mostly due to lack of confidence.

That won't be the case anymore.

As we go into the final moments of 2017 later today, I'll be counting my blessings. For this is the year that I grew into the person I've always wanted to be: courageous, empowered and happy.

LifePippa Says