The stillness of moving and shaking - a not-so-brief look at 2017
I say the same thing every year - "this has been a big year for me" - but somehow I look at each year and go, yeah, that was a big year for me. I consider myself very lucky to get to lead that life. Yet, this year has been different. For the first time ever (and yes, I do mean ever) I've explored stability, routines and traditions, and the wonders of being in the same place for a longer period of time than just a year.
- My biggest restraint in 2017 has been time and not being able to see a way to scale myself. I've had to turn down a lot of stuff and put really exciting projects on hold due to a lack of time. At one point I considered hiring a freelancing student but realised quickly that that, too, would take a lot of time. I'm still figuring out how to structure my life - perhaps 2018 will make things clearer.
- Being included in #Nordic100 as one of only two PRs is a highlight I'll remember for a long time coming - I'm neither senior nor blasé enough to say that those things don't matter. On the contrary, I'm still early on in my career and it often feels like I make stuff up as I go along, so having my work recognised by thought leaders like Slush and The Nordic Web is for me pretty major.
- I've realised that the vast majority really don’t understand what PR is, how it works, and how it can help way beyond the odd placement. I've always thought I've known this (it was one of the first things my mentor instilled in me when we started working together) but this realisation has reached new heights in 2017. I'm hoping to spread the word about the wonders of PR in 2018.
Social life and relationships
- Breaking up with my ex, and subsequently feeling very strongly and on a fundamental level that I never again want to be in a so-called romantic relationship, presented a huge buffet of learnings. I'm grateful for them all.
- I've discovered the joys of conceptualising my life. I know some people think it's a bit odd to brand everything you do, but I find that it really helps, particularly in my social life. This year I've engaged in Kallisklubben, Frukostklubben, Skaparklubben and Bokklubben. They all provide format where we show up with an agenda, a reason and a format to discuss things that aren't work related (or, as one friend out it, baby and/or wedding related).
- I feel like I've travelled a lot less this year than previous years, which says quite a lot. I've squeezed in trips to London, Texas, Palestine, Israel, Istanbul, Stockholm, Greece, Portugal, NYC, and I'm soon off to a secret location to finish off 2017 with one of my best friends. The majority of trips involved a lot of work, with might explain why they didn't exactly feel like holidays - because they weren't. Still, they've brought a huge source of inspiration. There's no way around it - travelling and meeting new people from around the world brings me a lot of energy.
- I found that spending time with children teaches you a lot about yourself and how you think about life. Especially if said children happen to be those of the person you’re dating.
- I lived up to the promise I made myself of never not doing stuff just because I'd have no one to do them with. Consequently I went to Israel and Palestine on my own and met fascinating people I otherwise wouldn't. I'd do it again in an instant. And I sort of am - I'm going to Bali on my own for a DIY surf and yoga retreat in just a couple of weeks.
- I've discovered that in a time where everyone around me seems to get pregnant, engaged, married and all the rest of it, I'm so happy and content in my little one bedroom flat with Katten. Perhaps ironically, the thought of settling down has never seemed further away.
Looking after myself
- I ran two half maras, and only through grit and perseverance. I didn't enjoy it very much, and remember thinking when setting out on my second half mara that "well, now you're going to be running for-e-ver". That's what it felt like as well. Yet somehow, I think I'll do more in the future.
- I saw a distinct pattern in my annual workout routine - I tend to be up and going in January, having started out strong already in December as to not feel like I'm part of the January New Year's Resolution crew. I usually manage to stick to it until summer, where it escalates - this summer I exercised 2-3 times a day (run, gym, tennis) and loved every bit of it. Once September hits and work starts picking up, I'm out. Next year I might start working with a PT as to not have to start from square one next Christmas (the way I have to this year).
- I made a concerted and committed effort to take up therapy, and have for the better part of the year gone to weekly psychodynamic psychotherapy sessions. It hasn't turned out the way I thought it would, and probably for the better. I think I thought it'd be a means to an end, that it could help me fix me. But life isn't static, and I'm probably as fixed as can be. That said, my weekly sessions help me understand myself, in relation to myself and others - the good, the bad and the ugly. Like all rewarding processes, it's hard.
- I've found that while I'm yet to meditate on a daily basis (or weekly, or monthly), I practice gratitude several times a week. Not necessarily intentionally - gratitude comes to me when I handpick avos at the grocery store, while at the gym, while walking along the bridge to Kallis, feeling the Malmö breeze across my face. It really is the seemingly small things that make me well up of gratitude. I try to actively recognise these feelings, and be grateful for them. Very meta, I know.
My biggest learnings
- This was also the year of my feminist awakening. I've always called myself a feminist, but this year I became aware of patriarchal structures to a significantly greater extent, how they modify my own behaviour and my own expectations of other people depending on their gender. As a result, I try to apologise for less, speak up for more and encourage more women to claim more space. I credit people in my surroundings for this - Mina, Joel, Streetgäris, Jeanette, and, of course, all of us through #MeToo.
- I've learnt about the wonders of time. I've seen friends go in and out of depression, burnouts and general shit times, and I'm very grateful to have seen firsthand that neither shit times nor good last forever. But again, life isn't static. Setbacks aren't permanent, neither is success. It sounds obvious and I've thought that I've known this, but I haven't.
- This was also the year when I worked hard to stop giving a fuck, in order to care more about shit that really matters (yes, as ever, I'm paraphrasing Mark Manson). I've taken a long, hard look at the way my thoughts structure themselves and decided that I want to try and control them as opposed to having them control me. It's hard, and I think it will be a lifelong process. Spending time with people who have already mastered it helps.
- I also discovered what it's like to forget to look at your phone for days on end - wonderful is what it is.
And finally... My best reads
- A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
This is by far the best and most traumatising read I've ever experienced. It kept me up at night for weeks on end, and when I finally fell asleep I dreamt about the characters. I'll want to read it again at some point, but it will have to wait until a lot later in life - it's a demanding read, in time, energy, and thinking power. Highly recommend it, but not if you're in a fragile state.
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, by Mark Manson
I've struggled with giving too much of a fuck all my life and I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on why. Obviously not just because of this book, it's been an ongoing process that has included many hours in therapy and even more discussions with friends and lovers, but I still think this book hits the nail on the head. What's more, it offers practical tools to help you check yourself when you give fucks that you probably shouldn't. It's a great book, and an easy read at that - really can't recommend it enough.
2017, you were great. You feel a little like a watershed year, or at least like you laid some sort of foundation for great things to come. 2018, bring it on.