I had a look and I know this blog is really patchy and inconsistent but I realised that I started it back in 2008 - that is five years ago. I just went back and read through the archives. It's amazing being confronted and reminded by the 25 year old me. She had such an amazing time and life - and she continues to do so still, now that she's turned the corner into 30.
2013 was a really important year for me.
I welcomed the New Year in India with a two minute silence commemorating all the women who have experienced and continue to experience violence. It was one of the most moving and powerful experiences I have ever had - to be surrounded by so many likeminded Indian women, men and children in silence as the fireworks went off all around us.
I then took the bus to Goa and spent wonderful days swimming and drifting in the ocean and hiking along the coast, during which time I vowed that I would make a change before my 30th birthday. I promised myself that I would start looking for work as soon as I returned home, with a view of finally leaving the country and finding a job overseas. London was only supposed to be for a year but I ended up spending five years there - kept by a mixture of friendships, amazing work opportunities, familiarity and the joys of living in one of the world's best cities. I could easily see the rest of my life stretching out before me in London, pretty much the same as it was then and decided 2013 was the year to grab the chance for change and spontaneity and excitement.
That promise was fulfilled much earlier than expected. I was offered a really great job in February (back in West Africa even) and ended up leaving London in June.
Last year was really difficult for me, so much more challenging than I ever imagined. I packed up my home, finished up my job that I adored and gave it to someone else, said goodbye to my friends that I loved and whom I had created as family around me and moved continents from Europe to Africa.
I moved to a country where I had no family, no friends, no home and no clue.
It took me 5 months after I arrived to find and move into a flat - so over half of my 2013 was spent staying in some form of temporary accommodation.
I do not even cover all the fingers of one hand when I try to count the number of friends that I have in the city in which I live. It turns out that it is really so much more difficult to make friends at 29 than it was at 18, 20, 22 or 24, the ages I was previous times I have moved city and country. It is also so much harder when you're well into adulthood, have a proper job and are surrounded by colleagues who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s than when you were a student. I should have known this already but I completely underestimated how impossible it is to get people to spend time with you when everyone has families that they need to take care of and an already well established circle of friends and they don't necessarily need any more thank you very much.
It is also really difficult to keep in touch with friends and family when you live in a country where the internet connection is *challenging*. We may be living in an increasingly interconnected world but the strength of that connection looks threadbare when your Skype call cuts out 5 times in 7 minutes.
Work is the highpoint of my life. My job is intensely challenging and frustrating (tears of frustration challenging sometimes) but I love it and I love (most of) the people with whom I work.
My goal in 2014 is to have life outside work. And (surely it goes without saying) I also plan to become a whole lot fitter and healthier.
I feel that the hard part is now somewhat behind me. I have a place to live and three (getting to be close) friends.
Roll on 2014 - I have a good feeling.