According to the stream of Facebook posts I’m seeing today, everyone I know sees 2013 as having been a “great year”, an “awesome year”, or a “fantastic year”.
I’m very happy for all of them, of course, but also quite envious – as years go, it fell pretty far from “great” as far as I’m concerned! It started with my first ever Eastenders-style dramatic NYE party. One of the loneliest nights of my life, it saw me beginning the year pleading for forgiveness for something I hadn’t done, and then walking home alone, tearful, and shivering in a blizzard after failing to get a taxi. Really, it wasn’t a great omen for the year ahead!
I suppose, to put a more positive spin on it, it was a year of making changes.
Practically all my friends had left Korea, and I decided to follow suit, as my whole life had become nothing more than sitting in a bar. Much as I loved that bar, it wasn’t exactly in line with my goals of exploring the world and making a difference! I packed up my life and went home to NI… where I suffered ridiculous homesickness for Korea and the afore-mentioned bar. Good grief.
By July, I was in Prague, enjoying the stressful but rewarding challenges of the CELTA course, throwing myself into hard work, and receiving the grade I wanted. I’m holding on to that as my one worthwhile achievement of the year. Staying in Prague after the course, however… that was my biggest error. I won’t start on it again (I’m meant to be getting the f**k over it, remember?! ;)), but by the end of the year I simply hated life.
The saving grace? Hope in the final few weeks of the year. Handed in my notice despite not having a solid job offer. Discovered I could give confident interviews that would result in offers. Learned from my mistake of panicking and accepting a low-paid, unsuitable job instead of taking my time, asking for what I want, and looking into every opportunity.
I am admittedly dreading January, as I have to go back to Prague and work for a few more weeks, and sort out all my belongings. But I’m going to try and make the most of it in the knowledge that it’s only for a few more weeks, and not until the summer after all. I’m out of there, although I’m not going to sign any contracts until I’m happy with what they say. The uncertainty about where I’m going to be living a few weeks from now is scary, but exciting. Who knows how it’ll pan out? I could love it… I could hate it. It could be a fantastic move… it could be another mistake.
But you know, I have learned one really important thing this year. Home is always here. Maybe this year was just a blip, and by the time the next one’s through I’ll be full of my old enthusiasm and excitement about living abroad. Or maybe I’ve had enough of the expat life, and am ready to put down roots and stop moving around in search of adventure. I really don’t know, and only time will tell. But no matter what happens… home is always here.
This year, I’ve learned that NI, despite its problems, is not a bad wee country after all. It’s small, it’s friendly, it’s laid-back, it’s full of cheerful, obliging folk, it’s beautiful, and it’s fun. As I said to a friend the other day: it’s strange that perhaps the biggest discovery I’ve made, after travelling to and living in countries dotted all across the globe, is that I’m actually pretty fond of the one I started out from!
And that’s not a bad thing to come out of an unpleasant year. I know where my home is. Who would’ve thought it?!
Happy new year to all my readers, and here’s hoping that 2014 is full of smiles, adventure, happiness, and friendship for all of us. Here’s to never knowing what’s around the corner – and to the possibility that it will, indeed, be a “great year”.