The starting line of 2018 seems light years behind.
Looking back, the past 12 months have been more intense than any rollercoaster I’ve ever been on – ups, downs, ups, downs, SURPRISE BITCH – A LOOP.
I actually am the New Year’s resolution type of gal, but towards the end of 2017 I was still so jet lagged and caught up in the hustle and bustle, that I didn’t really get to making my list. Now, laying on my bed back home, cuddling my cute dog, I’m satisfied with how my resolution-less year has played out. However, I do want to put this out there, 2018 tested me and gave me the highest highs and the lowest lows I’ve ever had so far.
I was contemplating if this post would be at least somewhat of an interesting read, but in the end I am a believer in sharing and celebrating your success and reflecting on your struggles. Speaking of struggles, I wasn’t really sure how to organise all of the madness that has happened – initially I writing up every month, but started comparing my months and feeling some months weren’t as worthy as others. That’s why I’m splitting it into categories/aspects of my life and reflect on them individually.
I feel like this was the year when I truly went on my own and finally started embracing this life I had initially moved to London for. The past 2 years were kind of a trial – I was splitting my time between London and Sofia, spending 2 months in the UK and 1 month back home. As nice as it was seeing my friends from home so often, it didn’t really allow me to build meaningful connections abroad. Kind of felt like Hannah Montana tbh. I also had always lived in some type of student accommodation, so finally getting a flat flat really made me feel like I was starting to accept London as my home.
Learning how to adult also made me the most self aware I’ve ever been.
I started questioning why things were or were not happening, reflecting on myself and slowly growing into the person I have become today. With that came a lot of mental health conversations I’ve had with myself and not gonna lie – a fair few breakdowns and at least 10 buckets of tears.
Something I’m very proud of achieving in the ‘personal’ realm was getting into a healthy routine. I’ve struggled with bad time management, inefficiency and burn out so much in the past years and having ADHD on top of it wasn’t helping. The funny thing is, I kind of forced myself to be better with my time management, so I could attend one of my really close friend’s 21st birthday – she was celebrating on the weekend before I had my first deadline of the semester. I really didn’t want to miss it, so I made sure that all my work was done on the Friday before that. Getting on the train later that day knowing I’m 100% ready for submission made me feel so good that I promised myself I would keep it up. Months later, I’ve nailed down a daily routine, which keeps me productive, healthy and sane and it’s something I’m hopefully bringing into 2019 as well.
Towards the very end of 2018 some things happened back home – one of those things that life never prepares you for. I’m not ready to fully discuss it online, but going through this has turned my life upside down, for better or for worse. Initially it did trigger my anxiety and sent me down a horrible spiral, but I can now say I’ve picked myself up and managed to get a grip on myself and my emotions. It’s still not over and it’s not going to be over for months to come, but it’s getting better and that’s all that matters.
(PS: Just to clarify – I’m thankfully not seriously ill and no one in my family has passed. One day I’ll talk about it 🙂 )
II don’t think I’ve talked about my career on the blog specifically, so here’s a little recap – I had a design job in a Bulgarian startup, which I left while in LA. I entered 2018 unemployed and very burned out. I opted out from the idea of having another full time design job while I’m also a full time student, so I started looking for a summer internship. During that process, I dealt with a loot of rejection, a lot of anxiety and self-doubt and the first breakdowns of 2018. The imposter syndrome was very, very real. I have written a full post on that and how I managed to turn it into a learning experience, so keep an eye for that in the first weeks of 2019!
Anyway, the experience of my summer internship turned out to be one of the extreme highs of the year. I got to spend 3 months working as a product design intern with the amazing team at Shazam and I couldn’t have wished for a better experience. It was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve done in a while – coming in with almost no app experience, I had a lot to learn – software, guidelines, principles and processes to name a few.
Most importantly I learned how important the team you are working with is.
Forever grateful for the people I’ve met there, you guys will always have a special place in my heart <3
Now that I’m looking into my next professional venture, I feel 100% sure in what I’m looking for and definitely at least 50% more confident I know how to get it. Not to jinx myself as well, but so far I’ve not had a single upfront rejection – something I thought would never ever happen.
January I went back to my beloved London College of Communication, after a semester abroad in LA. Studying in the USA made me realise how much I under-appreciated my university in the UK. Overall the next 2 semesters weren’t bad honestly – I was producing work I liked, getting good feedback and seeing that I’m improving as a designer. One thing I wasn’t particularly thrilled about though was that I wasn’t doing any interface design/ experience/ creative coding. Now that I look at it, I totally could have done it at least a little bit, but I didn’t feel sure enough what I actually want to specialise in and what’s my real strong suit. Now I’m not a terrible graphic designer, but overall it doesn’t bring me as much joy as digital does. I was stuck between the two, not knowing where my true strength and passion lies.
Well, going into my final year this October, the blur was clear. After working as a product designer for 3 months, doing mobile interfaces and just in general digital work, I was determined that this is what I want to do. I finally stood my ground and did a full on interface/experience exploration for my latest project, as well as a dissertation on mobile apps, AI and cognitive psychology, which I’m actually insanely excited about. I’m extremely proud of both of these things and all the feedback I’ve gotten on them so far is beyond amazing, proving to me once again that I’m on the right track.
A lot of what I’m known is related to travel. This year I took more flights this year than I ever have – around 24. Revisited some of my favourite destinations, crossed off a bucket list destination and had a few spontaneous trips. Although I did plan on travelling more, I took a step back and focused on other things that mattered.
Taking a minute to remember I am only 21 and have many more years to explore – the world isn’t going anywhere.
If I had to crown one trip as the best trip – I would say visiting Cappadocia. It was a delayed birthday gift from my mom and an overall magical experience! We stayed in a hotel in the caves, we flew with a hot air balloon, rode ATVs through the valleys and got to explore the area. I came home with a Turkish rug, a belly full of delicious food and a SD card full with pictures and scenery to last me a life time.
Second best trip was going back to Lebanon after 7 years. My mom lived there for a few years, back when I was 14, and after being there 2 times, I fell in love with the country. So, this April, being nearly 21, I was back. We went to all our favourite places, explored new and exciting ones and ,again, ate all the food. My favourite thing about this country is how diverse it is – in people, in culture, in architecture, in EVERYTHING.
Well, this is an interesting one, which I purposefully left for last. I thought this was going to be the part where I’ve hit a lot of milestones, but it’s actually something I did struggle a lot with, specially during the second half of the year. As I mentioned, most of what I’m kind of known for is travel content. Although I love that, realistically I can’t travel 24/7. So, when summer came around I found myself slightly lost.I realised the traditional beauty/lifestyle/fashion content I was trying to produce, didn’t exactly sit with me. I was trying to compete with other gals, who clearly loved doing it and cared way more about it than I did. So around September/October I just stopped. I was MIA from Instagram for months. I lost probably 800?900? followers and engagement dropped. And tbh, I wasn’t that phased by it.
It wasn’t that I’d lost my love for creating. It was that my feed had accidentally turned into a parody of an ASOS catalogue.
(Absolutely no shade to anyone who enjoys that and I do follow feeds like that and they smash it, but it’s just not for me. )
I initially started taking pictures, because I loved being behind the camera, not in front of it. I do love a good outfit here and there, but is that all I have to offer? Nope. I was ignoring a big chunk of what I do in my daily life and trying to be the cool trendy girl who’s always put together and out and about in the city. I’m clearly not that and I can say I’m ready to bring you the real deal to the table in 2019.
Thank you everyone for another amazing year. I’m beyond excited for 2019 and what it has in store for me. See you on the other side!