What The XXY Team Learnt This Year
What The XXY Team Learnt This Year
Time out. Learning to take a break has probably been my biggest achievement this year. That may sound strange or even as if I lack some work ethic, drive or ambition, but I have truly learnt too much of anything is not a good thing. This from the woman who says “more is more and less is a bore”. But I’m not sure if that applies when you’re finishing a degree, changing into the sole director of a magazine publishing company, working for cash as you live such a stereotypical artiste lifestyle. All of this whilst also trying to get your freelance name out there, meaning projects, projects, projects. This isn’t another boring paragraph on another creative complaining about how tired they are, but one who has truly learnt a simple weekend off when working on all these different walks of life is a good thing. Especially with the phone switched off.
To anyone who may feel guilty when taking a break or even a holiday, or to those who think “hygge” is a trendy lifestyle with merely coffee table books and industrial, yet cosy-looking chairs; or even if you’re someone who aspires to be the next icon – that’s great and all, but one thing I’ve learnt from our fashion ancestors of the past is that having only your career is not it for me. If I am going to accomplish everything I say I will do, my brain is allowed time off here and there. How else would aspirational Pinterest boards on what my future home looks like exist?
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Gratitude. This year I’ve learnt to be grateful. To accept things I can’t control, and to try and ride the bad times through with dignity. Just before Christmas, quite serendipitously, I went to a yoga class where the teacher spoke about gratitude and trying to focus on everything we can be grateful for in life, no matter how small. Sitting cross-legged in that studio, I looked out over the London skyline and thought about how far I had come in a year. I’m still thinking about it now.
Exactly 12 months ago, I had just quit a well-paying editorial job, a luxury apartment and a relatively easy life in Asia. But why? I gave it all up to come back home. I traded security for adventure and spent my savings travelling around the world for 6 months. I returned to the UK in June to vote in the Brexit referendum. Despite the result, I don’t regret coming back to London. I’ve been lucky enough to find my own flat to live in, have my parents close by for support, and my friends around me. I met a new guy and I’ve started embarking on the kind of relationship I had always hoped for but never had the time to find because of my long working schedule.
Although I don’t have the job or the money I used to, I’ve replaced that for the sake of my relationships. Looking back on it, I didn’t have much control over the circumstances that made me tip my life upside down, but sometimes change comes at you and all you can do is accept it. Now I try to be grateful. Grateful for the countries I saw, grateful for my home, for my family, and the chance at a meaningful love life. On hard days I try and focus my thoughts back on these things. To remember that life is cyclical and to try and ride out the downs. Everything inevitably changes, and so the bad times are only temporary. The rest will come back to me. I just have to wait for it.
Vulnerability. I recently had someone very close to me open up about something that they’d been going through for a while, and they hadn’t told anyone about it. I asked them why they chose to confide in me, and their answer was simple, because I’d seen them.
This year I’ve had the privilege of doing many things. I’ve interviewed an artist whose entire body of work aims to deconstruct damaging gender stereotypes. I’ve witnessed a friend create a community to support those dealing with mental health have their voices heard and accepted and I’ve seen the transformation of someone I grew up with realigning their body into one they always associated with but were not born into.
Whilst many say that the new year is a time for self-reflection, what 2016 has truly taught me is that in allowing oneself to be vulnerable you are allowing yourself to be true. I have learnt a lot this year from the bravery of others and what that has taught me is that it’s okay to give myself permission to be vulnerable.
Independence. This year I learnt a lot about myself, what it means to be independent and what it feels like to be alone. I learnt that independence is not necessarily a paycheck figure. It is not always knowing or getting what you want. And it has absolutely nothing to do with your relationship status. It is not even an end destination. Some days this year I felt more independent than others.
I learned that independence is enjoying your own company. It is reading in the park or asking for a table for one. Getting lost in a new city so you can find your way back. Trust your own judgement. Cry when it is time to come home, but feel relieved when you actually get back. Accepting help when you need it. Taking criticism so you can appreciate it. Helping others when you can offer it. Forgiving yourself when it is necessary. Enjoying yourself because you must.
That is independence. It comes hand in hand with confidence. I am so grateful I got to cry, laugh and write while I found it this year.
Self-care. This year, the world was constantly on the brink of something – something great, or something terrible. But life goes on and with one day left to the new year, I was trying to think of the most important thing I have learned; and 2016 was so uniquely busy and awful and great, all at once, that there can’t possibly be just one thing I take from it. I have learned to both let go and go out and demand the things I deserve, I have learned to ask for help but most importantly, I have learned not to romanticise the grind.
There is nothing glamorous about not sleeping at night because you are rushing to meet a deadline or not eating a proper meal for days. Turning everything off after six and having dinner with my housemates was perhaps the best thing I have done for myself all year, even if I could not do it every day. I was never the kind of person who ran every morning, listened to whale songs and ate kale, but I saw self-care in changing the sheets, buying little trinkets whenever I could and belting out to High School Musical songs. And it was enough.
The XXY team wish all our readers the greatest and safest new year. We hope it’s absolutely lit and more.