Reflections | Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 2016

“Sometimes you have to take a step back to realize how lucky you are”

2016 has seen some of my biggest changes to date. I’ve learned some pretty important life lessons, all of which have lead me to creating this post. This year hasn’t been easy by any means, but with 2017 fast approaching, I’m starting to realize the numerous blessings in disguise which haven’t been so obvious throughout the year.

The first six months of this year saw me trying to juggle my second year of university, with preparing for my year abroad. June then saw the big move become a reality. I was a naïve, clueless 19 year-old embarking on her biggest adventure, not truly realizing what was in her path.  Of course I was scared, but I was more scared of leaving my parents behind than I was of what was in store for me in Paris. Never before had I thought that the most simple of tasks would have caused me as much hassle, but out here, they did. Three days into my time out here, the fear of the future nearly made me give up. Having taken a step back to reflect on this journey, I’ve realized just how far I’ve come and how much my perspective on things have changed.

Below you’ll find the 5 important life lessons I’ve learned this year.

Hard work really does pay off.

This is going to sound extremely cliché to you, but it’s the only way to put it. I’ve put every ounce of energy into my job in Paris. Not once have I thought of it as ‘just an internship’, or something to fill my year abroad.  It hasn’t always been easy, and there have been days where I’ve worked 14 hours to ensure that a task was completed on time. In return, I extended my contract for an extra four months, allowing me to live the life I love for that little bit longer, but that would never have been the case if I hadn’t put in the effort in the first place.
What’s been my motivation? Happiness and independence.

Time spent with family is the best.

Yes, I’m independent, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss and love them more than anything. In Bath, it was always fairly easy, as I could pop on the train home for £30, and be home within a few hours. Likewise, my parents could be at my house in Bath by suppertime on the Friday evening for the weekend; it was never really an issue. Paris, obviously requires much more planning, and that’s hit home harder than ever. It’s much more expensive, and much less feasible, and unfortunately has reduced the amount of time I’ve spent with my family.
Waiting six/seven weeks at a time to see your family for approximately 30 hours is difficult, and has taken some time to get used to,  but has also taught me to appreciate these moments much more than before. Having my parents or my sister around me make me feel at complete ease during times where life feels tough. Living in a foreign country, you never feel completely settled- I’m constantly cautious of what I’m saying to avoid as many errors are possible, and the embarrassment of not understanding someone can make me feel extremely uncomfortable.
Having my loved ones around reminds me that they’ll always be there for me, regardless of how many minor mistakes I make in life. 

Time to yourself is often needed. 

This was never the case for me in university- I often loved going out with friends, whether it was a night out or a day’s shopping. I used to hate time to myself, and would often refuse to do anything alone. Despite still loving seeing the girls, a day exploring the streets of Paris alone has now become something that I really look forward to. I work forty-five hours a week, and now time to myself is my way of clearing my head and relaxing. 

It’ll come when you least expect it.

Internships, for me, are the best way to learn, both as a person and to develop knowledge. Prior to starting my internship, my career plan was to become a translator, however less than a month into a branding internship, that had all changed. I’m currently in the process of applying for more branding internships in London, ready to try and take the next step towards a career in branding. If someone would have told me this at the start of the year, I wouldn’t have believed them as I’d never really considered it, but gaining firsthand experience in an agency, I now know which field I’d like to move into in the future. I’ve always had an interest in branding, however never thought that my personal interest would have been as beneficial as it has in helping me grasp the work and the industry.

Goodbyes never get any easier.

Whether it was when I lived in Bath or in Paris, saying bye to the people who mean most to me never gets any easier, if anything, it gets harder. I see my boyfriend every two to three weeks, so you’d think I’d be used to saying “see you soon” by now, but I’m not. Still finding it difficult after two and a half years for me is a positive. It becomes way too easy to slip into a routine and being accustomed to being apart, whether its my family or boyfriend, and it reminds me that how close you are with someone isn’t defined by the distance between you. 

What life lessons have you learned in 2016? I’d love to hear from you. 

H xx 


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