I’m pretty sure we’re all in agreement that 2016 has been, how do I phrase this, a slightly more challenging year, right? OK, for some part it’s been an absolute shitter. Personally I’ve had some highs and some low points, so I wanted to just sit back and take note of the life lessons I’ll be taking into the New Year with me.

If I was to sum up this year in one word, without being a total cheese ball, it would be growth. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, and I’ve learnt A LOT about other people. So without further ado, let’s see the first life lesson I’ll be taking into 2017.

1. Not Everyone Will Have The Same Opinion…And That’s OK

Brexit divided the nation. Hell, it divided friendships and families. When we voted to leave the EU, the country was split. I voted differently to some of my closest friends and at that time it was hard to understand why someone would feel the way they did to vote in the opposite way to myself – especially as we grew up in the same area – we agreed on so many things but had the complete opposite view on this major life-changing event. But I realised you can be as close as two peas in a pod and still have different views. And that’s OK. Nothing has to change in a friendship. You agree to see each others point and you move on.

2. There Will Always Be Fuckboys

Trust me on this, 2016 was the year of the Fuckboy. The guy who made you lose all hope that there are nice guys out there. The guy that made you delete all form of dating app and consider single parent adoption (true story). The guy that lied, lied and lied some more. The guy that left you in a bar at midnight because you said you wouldn’t go home with him (again, true story). But you know what? Fuckboys are always going to be around – it’s not a specie that’s about to die out anytime soon unfortunately. But spotting them gets easier with age and I’m hoping 2017 is the year my Fuckboy radar kicks in again.

3. It’s Cool If You’re An Introvert

I wanted to make 2016 the year I went to more blogging events, but you know what? I struggled. I struggled with meeting new people and putting myself outside of my comfort zone. Even though I enjoyed all the events I went to, a little part of me wished I was at home behind my laptop screen. And at 32 I feel like I should just embrace that I don’t need, or want, to be out there networking and going to the opening of an envelope. So in 2017, I won’t be pushing myself to leave my happy space and I’m cool with that.

4. Health Comes Before Anything

In November 2015 I was called for a smear. I was so busy with work I put it off. And off. And off. Until January 2016 came around and I decided to get booked in with the doctor. Within a week of my results being sent back, I was told I needed to go to hospital as I had high grade cells. The letter came Thursday and they fast tracked my appointment for Tuesday morning. I has minor surgery and the cells and surrounding area were cut away in time. I’d continually put off visits to the doctors because at that point in my life work came first. Except work didn’t come first. My health did. So many women put off smears because it’s uncomfortable but please, please if that’s you – go get booked in, it’s over in a minute and it could save your life.

5. You Don’t Have To Live And Breathe Work

Which leads me into my next point – work doesn’t have to be at the centre of your world. For years I’d made work my main priority, mainly because I loved my job and I wanted to succeed, but also it was who I was. I was Vickie, a magazine editor, who travels a lot for work, and who works late at Christmas when everyone else is out partying. And I relished in it. Except, something this year changed. I turned my work emails off my phone completely, which was hard as I usually like to check everything Sunday night so I didn’t go into anything major Monday morning. I stopped working late and I guess what? I still managed to do a good job. I just wasn’t as stressed anymore. A healthy work life balance was achieved at the latter part of 2016 and I intend to go into the next twelve months with the same attitude.

6. Exercise For The Mind, Not Just The Body

Mental health has been a topic of conversation through various points during the last twelve months. I’ve written previously about my struggles with the Pill, and how relieved I felt when it finally left my system, but anxiety has also been something I’ve dealt with at times, peaking in the latter part of the year. Not that I disagree with anyone taking medication for things like anxiety and depression, far from it, but I knew that I would rather try helping myself the natural way first. Sugar has a huge effect on moods and hormones, as does exercise, so I joined up to a local boot camp for an intensive six week course – not to lose weight, but to see how it would make me feel in terms of my moods. It worked. The endorphins alone put such a huge smile on my face, and at 5.45am I can tell you that was a hard job. So 2017 will be the year I forget about exercising to lose weight and start doing it for my overall well being.

7. Nothing Is Guaranteed…Especially Money

This was a tough lesson to learn. In September, a week before I was flying to New York, my blogging agency Mode Media suddenly went into liquidation. I say a week before I was flying to New York because along with Mode Media went the thousands of pounds I was owed from campaigns I’d worked on throughout the year. So many bloggers were effected, and I feel lucky I wasn’t depending on that money for anything other than spending money for my holiday. The lesson I learnt from that was nothing is ever guaranteed, especially money. If it’s not in your pocket, it’s not yours. Oh, and I also learnt to never agree to 120 day payments terms again. Ever.

8. Sometimes It’s OK To Be A No Girl

I said yes to a lot of opportunities this year in terms of my blog. It’s kind of drilled into us that we have to embrace everything that’s sent our way. And you know what happened when I did? I burnt out. I used all my holidays at work for blogging events, which meant I had so little left for me to actually take off and have a break – plus I had a spare room full to the rafters of samples that needed shooting because I couldn’t reply and say no when brands got in touch about being featured on Apartment Number 4. I’m also disappointed to say I lost my way a little bit in terms of content, and wrote about things that I perhaps weren’t in line with my brand, because I needed the money. All that is changing for 2017. I’ll be writing a new post on this come January 1st but there’s a new direction for Apartment Number 4 and it’s all focused on you, the reader. I’ll be saying no a lot more often and concentrating on content that really excites me.

9. You Always Need A Cuddle No Matter What Age

You might remember my post about my trip to Hong Kong earlier this year and how excited I was to explore the other side of the world, all by myself for a trip to HK Fashion Week. I was there from Sunday to Friday and I had my plan mapped out of what I was going to see and what I was going to experience. Except I’d been there for six hours and I got the worst bug I’ve had in my life so far. I must have caught something on the 13 hour flight over because within hours of arriving I was laid on the bathroom floor, trying to cool my body in a ball on the tiles. No joke. I stayed in that hotel room until my flight home and saw Hong Kong through my 24th floor window. Nothing passed my lips until I arrived home and it took nearly a month to get better. All I wanted was to see my mum and dad, and at 32 I wasn’t ashamed to admit I just wanted a mum cuddle. That trip was a complete flop, but I’ll be making up for it this coming year with some exciting trips in the pipeline.

10. Embrace Your Weirdness

I’m weird. I know that. Most people I work with know that. My family know that. I say stupid things. I write stupid Facebook statuses. I’m known to most people as Sponge, after Victoria Sponge, my Facebook name. Some people like me, some people don’t. I’m old enough now to not give a hoot about what other people think – if you’re a little weird, and to be honest, who isn’t, then embrace it. If you like to go out on a weekend and reenact historical fights in a field, then embrace the shit out of that. If you like to collect model cars, you go out collecting! Go for it with all your might and enjoy yourself. 2017 will be about stepping away from is deemed “the norm” and being who you truly wish to be.

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  1. 12.30.16

    I love this post. Many thing resonate with me and I delighted you put it down and shared. I am also a weird and I'm much happier when I roll with it! I also had a diagnosis of cervical pre-cancer cells 14 years ago. That moment I got my results and went through surgery changed my life. It also saved my life. I knew then that I better get up the next day and embrace the life that I had!