Finally getting a little time to finish this blog as I started writing this at the very beginning of the year. I also needed to take a little time out and think about this coming year, what changes I needed to make and what I would do differently.
It has also been an amazingly busy start this month, so let's start as we mean to go on...
As we enter 2024, I glance back over the past year to a year I felt wasn't necessarily my greatest. I was pleased to move forward and leave most of those memories behind, except for a few lovely moments with friends and family. The highlight of the year by far had to be our engagement and the happiest day of my life. Nothing would come close to that feeling of exhilaration and love. Memories that will forever be treasured in my heart. A lifelong friend also Married her hubby-to-be at a beautiful chapel in London, and there was lots of joy for my friends who introduced new babies into their families. There were moments of calm among the chaos.
Other than that, I was very much ready to leave last year in the past.
Once December arrived, I was excited for Christmas, my first Christmas excitement in what I would say years. Stresses of the past year had lifted, and the thought of starting a new one elevated me. I began to feel differently about the events of 2023, and during a chat with a lovely client, while doing her highlights, my views on the year changed. I hated how 2023 made me feel. It was emotional and a little lonely at times, but during that chat, my thoughts changed. I could see the good in the bad and understand clearly the lessons that came with every negative emotion throughout the year.
This brings me to the first and most important lesson I took away from 2023 to get this blog started.
Lesson 1: Your Health Matters! Be Persistent and determined to do what YOU feel is 'right' for your body.
I didn't get the results I was hoping for at the hospital after 18 months of drug therapy. I felt let down and bounced around different doctors, each telling me different things with the same test results. It was infuriating! I was determined to get well, to feel better and find a doctor who believed in me.
Not giving up, being persistent, and sticking to my plan have helped me gain the results I have been working towards. My health situation is far too long to go into now and needs a whole blog for itself. To summarise, I learnt that doctors are not always right, and sometimes they have to work by the guidelines set by the hospital, regardless of the test results of an individual. They may disagree with it, but they have to work by it. I refused to hear that I needed definite treatment for a disease that had been inactive for a year since I managed to stabilise my hormone levels. I repeatedly kept getting told that I would struggle to have children and that I would struggle before and during pregnancy, which may result in the worst-case scenario. Radioactive therapy was my only option. I didn't believe that! I sought a second opinion and finally got the results I deserved. So keep pushing for those results. You know your body better than anyone. I am now off my thyroid medication and waiting on my 6-month test to see if the disease is truly in remission.
Lesson 2: To Have faith and confidence in myself, skills and knowledge.
I have been seriously lacking in confidence since the lockdown of 2020. To be completely honest, having that time away from work was mentally challenging. I was overwhelmed and overstimulated by the stress of switching appointments and weddings, not earning, and being unable to practice my craft. It took a toll on my confidence and completely knocked me. When I was invited to work on a short film for their hair and makeup team, I was excited, nervous and concerned that maybe I had committed to something I may not have been able to fulfil. I was doubting myself. I was so scared of letting them down and not being up to the job. It was a remarkable experience that I'm glad I said yes to. I was fascinated by how it all works. Making films is not what you see in the movies. I learnt a lot and loved every minute. What an amazing experience! I had so much fun thinking outside the box to create work that is different from my day to day makeup. I felt great having people who wanted to work alongside me, admire my work, encourage me, and praise me. I met some truly admirable people and feel lucky to have had the chance to work as part of their team. These are the types of people we all should be surrounding ourselves with.
Lesson 3: People Move on, and that's ok.
Some people are in your life for a moment, and some for a lifetime. People move on it is as simple as that.
Not everyone will be there cheering you on at the finish line, not everyone will be happy for you, not everyone will support you and not everyone will be fighting your corner. But that's ok.
In 2024 I have decided to only show up for those who would show up for me. I had put far too much energy into relationships and felt let down. I was left feeling like all I was doing was giving, changing my dates around to suit others, the one doing the planning and organising, the one putting it out there to make it happen. If I couldn't make events because of work commitments, I was left out.
Hairstylists and makeup artists have the most 'sociable, unsociable' careers, working late nights, very early mornings and weekends. It's a lonely job sometimes. I was exhausted just existing and desperately trying to keep up and be involved. I struggled to keep up with my expanding workload, building a business and trying to keep friends and family happy, as well as trying to take care of myself and stop my thyroid from getting out of control. I was too overwhelmed, and I was mentally and physically exhausted. I decided to delete WhatsApp groups, as I was overloaded with messages. Firstly, they were building up so much that I missed important ones. Secondly, I was starting to lose a grip on reality. Who did I actually talk to? Or did I only converse with some people via memes in group messages? I was losing the enthusiasm to call people to meet up and have one-on-one conversations. So I just stopped. I stopped, my phone went quiet. At first, I had to resist the urge to pick it up to see if I had missed a message. The silence was deafening, surreal. It was sad as the realisation kicked in that maybe I was the one who was putting the effort into the conversations. People only spoke to me in groups, who reached out to me outside of them?
I learned who was generally happy and supported my dreams and those who couldn't let me shine for the moment. So this year I will focus my time with those who deserve to share my bubble with me, give them my full attention and shower them with the love they deserve. I'll keep my circle small and keep them close to my heart.
Lesson 4: The importance of self-care
2022 and 2023 were all about being healthy. I took the time out for myself as needed, rested and relaxed as much as I could in what little spare time I had. I continued to eat healthy and fairly wavered from my plan. I said no to many late-night dinners and boozy nights at the bar. I exercised as often as I could. I loved being outside and squeezed as much walking through nature into my schedule. My stress levels were so far through the roof my hair was falling out, I started to worry. This was a sign that I couldn't take on any more. Things had to change, and I had to just "do me" for a while. I planned a beauty regime to help get my hair and skin in the best condition to encourage growth as quickly as possible. I needed a plan to start immediately. I had to put myself first to reset, stay calm and find my 'happy' again.
Lesson 5: Life isn't a race.
I might not be where I once thought I would be at my age, but it doesn't mean I'm not exactly where I am meant to be in life.
How does anyone find their direction? It takes years of walking down bumpy paths, reaching dead ends and finally getting on track with our lives. I have always found it difficult not to compare my life to anyone else's on social media. With ten years of health issues fighting against me, I have to be kind to myself and understand that I might not be where I thought I would be, but I am here to tell this story. Life will happen at the right place at the right time it isn't a race. Sometimes we need to slow down and figure out what our next move will be, but life moves at such a fast pace it can be a struggle for anyone to keep up.
Lesson 6: It is ok to say no.
At first, I was all for the year of the "hell yes!!!!" and to give as much a go as I could. However, I said yes to far too much and overdone it on many occasions. So now I have learnt that saying No is not a negative, but many people find it one of the hardest things to say. I know I have been guilty of that many times over the years. Sometimes, it's not always a no forever, it's just a NO, that's not for me right now. Your feelings matter, your feelings are valid, and you are entitled to say no when necessary.
Lesson 7: Put yourself first.
So my last lesson is the most important alongside health. Put yourself first. I had tried to please so many people last year that I ended up working my planned leave. I was scared to take time off in case I lost that client. I was trying to look after all my friends who were going through stressful times and was forgetting that I needed to be helping myself. I changed so many of my plans to suit others. I helped people towards their goals and supported their futures. But I had barely put one foot in front of the other in the direction that I wanted to go. By the end of the year, I ended up feeling like a permanently exhausted pigeon who had been flying around the same towns fuelled by caffeine and snacks. I hadn't followed my dreams or done any of the things I had planned for 2023.
So all in all, the main points to take away from 2023 is, to never give up and keep fighting for the best. You deserve nothing less in 2024. It is the start of our next chapter as I enter the year in full Wedding mode, full of excitement, nervousness and the beginning of a new life together, surrounded by people we love who truthfully want to be there and support us in every way.
I am lucky to have realised this philosophy and have learnt these lessons at this point in my life. Whether I am late in the game or I am figuring it out earlier than others, It has come at the perfect time for me. Because of where I am right now. Is exactly where I am meant to be.