This time of year is always full of reflection; a little self-awareness goes with the season, it seems. I see a lot of 'what I learnt' posts going around the Internet, but they're often filled with cliches and I'm left wondering if those are really things that people learnt, or things that they knew all along but have just had a reminder over the past year. There are some nuggets of wisdom that I feel are constantly sent our way, and rightly so, because there are stark reminders everywhere we turn - life is short, hard work pays off, friends & family matter more than money and possessions, turn off your phone... You know the sort of thing. But I thought it would be a fun exercise to think about what 2015 actually taught me, things which caught me by surprise or that were totally new to me. So here's 8 things I actually learnt in 2015...
1. I have enough time for reading.
If you haven't heard me go on about it, then it may surprise you to know that I've read 96 books so far this year. Which is a whole lot of books. I have always been a big reader, but fell out of the habit during the later years of school and University, proclaiming that I didn't have enough time to read. Well, it turns out I very much do, and I'm going to take advantage of that fact for as long as possible.
2. Driving isn't as scary as I thought.
I am definitely not going to tell you that I am a good driver. I am an average driver, but I like to think that my caution makes me quite safe. I was terrified of driving for years, despite having passed my test, but picked it back up again this year and got myself a pretty swish car, which made it so much less scary than it once was. I'm still learning and still getting past that anxiety, but I know now that it will pass, so I don't have to commit myself to a lifetime of being terrified of the road.
3. Being married is pretty cool (and it is different from not being married).
This is obviously something that I could never have known before, but having got married this year I can affirm that it is pretty cool. And, despite what I say to people about married life being pretty much the same as unmarried life, I do feel like the commitment that I have made has changed my relationship for the better. We have always been a team, but now we've agreed to be a team for life, which changes the decisions we make and the discussions we have. The everyday is still very similar, but it's neat to know that Paul wants to be with me forever.
4. Travel isn't a transformative experience for me.
I am not well-travelled and it doesn't bother me, which I think is pretty much the closest thing you can get to a sin in 2015. I understand why it's so high on some people's priority lists, and I do enjoy seeing new places (and eating new foods!) but it isn't a transformative experience for me. I am an anxious traveller at best, and as much as I would like my holidays to make me into a better, more understanding person, I think I'm better off picking up a book or doing some volunteering at home if I want to improve my life. Maybe this will change in the future, but I'm happy for now to put travelling slightly down the list.
5. I'm quite good at my job.
I'm getting into the three year mark in digital marketing now, and I like to think that I am getting good at it. There's always room for improvement, of course, and some people spend their whole lives getting good at their careers so I know there's a long way to go, but for now I'm happy that I know what I'm talking about and can do my job to a good standard. This is the first time I've been in any way established in a job or career, and it feels good.
6. New York is as great as everyone says.
I've always been a bit sceptical of people who rave about New York, like they were trying to join some cool club. I take back all of my judgement, because after visiting New York for the first time as an adult, I am totally signed up. New York is a magical city, and it will steal your heart just like everyone always says it will. I think I could go every year for the rest of my life and never be bored of it. If there's a cool club of New York-loving people, then sign me up!
7. My grandparents are the best people to hang out with.
It sounds morbid, but this year is the first year that I really realised that my grandparents aren't going to be around forever. I have a relatively young family, so it's only now that my grandparents are starting to hit old age, and experience all the related mess that it brings. I've been very lucky in that, and also in the fact that my grandparents are the most generous, wise, wonderful people I know. I'm making it a priority to spend more time with them, because they're all fantastic people and super fun.
8. Good skincare is worth the money.
This is the year that I invested in good skincare and began to worship at the altar of Caroline Hirons. I've spent a small fortune, but I've finally got a skincare routine that works for the skin I have now (rather than the skin I had when I was a teenager). It's been worth every penny and my skin has never looked better. I'm starting to notice the start of wrinkles so I'm glad this is a lesson I'm learning now!