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What I Learned In 2016

I learned a lot from 2016. I achieved things I thought weren’t achievable, I’ve finally gained some belief in myself and most of all, I enjoyed myself. 2016 was quite a momentous year for me, for several different reasons, but looking back on the year, ultimately it was a year that changed me into the person I am today.

2016 started off as a really bad year for me. In November/December 2015, I had to have major spinal fusion surgery – a lot went wrong and I was warned that the recovery period would be lengthy. January and February was mainly spent learning how to adjust to everything again. But I had a determination to get better. I wanted my independence back, I needed it.

In February, I started back to school. It was an extremely stressful time – I had missed nearly four months – and at A Levels, even missing a week can mean a lot of work to catch up on. Teachers had sent home work for me to do, but I had little energy. Going back was very nerve-wracking and it took a long time to get used to a normal routine again. I was behind in all my subjects. Not only was I trying to revise for upcoming exams, I also had to juggle coursework, homework and catching up on everything I had missed.

I would be lying if I said that was the easiest thing I’ve ever done because it was far from easy. In fact, I was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and I felt that if I failed all my exams, then I would be a failure. I wanted to do well to show myself that I could face anything. I did think about dropping out – I was at a stage where I was sitting up till the early hours of the next morning trying to catch up and I felt that I would embarrass myself if I did the exams and failed them. I was feeling the pressure. However, when I was close to dropping out, I was constantly thinking about the ‘what ifs.’

March and April was really the same – school, revising for upcoming exams, trying to get better. May was pretty much the same – except it was exam season. I remember on the day of my first exam, I was going to go home. My school were so accommodating and made sure I was given a separate room so I could get up and walk about to stretch my back when necessary. My exams were extremely long, which didn’t help pain-wise either.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I worked extremely hard for the exams, and was determined to pass them at the very least. I’ve never wanted to go to university but I wanted to do this for myself. I wanted to show that hard work does get you places.

My final exam was on the 24th June 2016 and the relief I felt was immense. I was so relieved they were done, I now could enjoy summer. And if I had failed them, at least I had tried. I believed it was a courageous thing to do – to take four months off at A Level and then attempt exams, but it was worth a risk. I mean, I had nothing to lose.

Once the summer months kicked in, I just wanted to have fun. That’s what summer’s all about, right?! I think I say it every year, but 2016 was one of the best summer’s I have ever had. I met a lot of new people. For once, I didn’t have the worry of the surgery hanging over me. And the weather over the summer was INSANE, which really helped too!

I will never forget the dreaded Results Day in August. The whole year had been building up to a few letters and I remember having a very sleepless night. I had prepared myself to fail them all and my parents were very supportive and said that they understood if I didn’t achieve what I wanted to as it had been a big year. The results I did achieve surpassed my expectations – still to this day, I can’t believe my results. It’s a very proud achievement.

September brought about new challenges. I was about to start a new college course, and I’m always anxious meeting new people. I’d just got used to high school and no sooner had I got used to it, than I was moving on. The new college course was (and still is) extremely demanding, but I keep telling myself that it’s only a year long.

October and November were pretty much the same…college, college and college, work, work, work. I still find the course extremely exhausting. Early mornings are not my thing, and trying to balance a college course with three other jobs, spending time with family, having a social life and various other responsibilities has been a difficult task – something I’m still working on getting the right balance on.

I learned a lot from 2016. That’s not to say it didn’t have challenges, people I thought would have stuck by my side for a long time left, and many other challenges. But the good times completely outweighed the bad.

I guess you could say 2016 was my year to a certain extent. I’m hoping 2017 is a year filled with happiness, fun, laughter. I have many things lined up for 2017, and I can’t wait to carry on doing what I do – working hard, enjoying everything, being tired but having fun.

The Rachel that started off 2016 is a completely different Rachel that ended the year – in a good way. I have learned so much about myself. So thank you 2016, but it’s time to move on. 2017…..HERE I COME!

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