30 May 2017

25 by 25: the update


Last year, I wrote a list. It was called 25 at 25. That's 25 things I wanted to achieve while I was 25 years old.

Well, it's my 26th birthday on Friday, so I thought I'd better go through the list and see how I did. Wanna come judge me with me? Of course you do.

1. PASS MY DRIVING TEST

Did I do it? Mmm… nope.
How embarrassing to fail the first objective on the list.

I’ve really struggled with driving during the past couple years. It’s not something that came naturally to me and therefore I really didn’t enjoy it. ‘I’m Sheldon Cooper. I just can’t do it’ may have been a phrase that was bandied about a bit. I accidentally took a six month break from driving lessons and it was divine - in a 'you're a terrible procrastinator, stop avoiding your problems!' sort of way.

However, I have some good news! I’ve been back on the case. I passed my theory test and I’m aiming to do the practical this summer. I may not have ticked this objective off yet, but on track is better than nothing, right?

Me and the car I can't drive.

2. VISIT NEW YORK CITY

Did I do it? YES!

There was nowhere I wanted to visit more than New York City. And, back in December, my dream became a reality.

It was everything I’d hoped it'd be and more. I could bore you to tears by talking about what a great time I had, but I’ll let you read my blog posts instead.

Real life New York, where the squirrels are friendlier than the people.

3. COMPLETE DUOLINGO FRENCH

Did I do it? Mais oui!

Although I’ve completed the app, I can’t claim to be fluent in French. Luckily, I knew enough to scrape by when Becky and I went to Paris in April - even if it my French conversation was mostly limited to ordering croissants.

Read about our springtime adventures in Paris.

This photo might be my greatest accomplishment of the year.

4. BLOG AT LEAST TWICE A MONTH

Did I do it? Hell yeah!

Take a look, there’s at least two blog posts every month between June 2015 and May 2016. There may have been a couple of panicked occasions when I realised the first of the month was mere hours away, but hey - I did it!

I’ve had pretty good content to work with too: trips to New York and Paris, interviews with amazingly inspirational women, fun day trips, good books… you name it, there’s a blog post on it.

Yeah, I can't actually see through that view finder. This is 10/10 staged. 

5. HIT THE HALFWAY POINT WITH MY SAVINGS

Did I do it? YES.

Despite the travelling and my general spendthrift nature, I managed to hit my savings goal this month. In the next year or two, I should have enough saved for a deposit on a flat. How scarily grown-up does that sound?

6. START WRITING SOMETHING BIG

Did I do it? Somehow, yes!

I am incredibly grateful for the writing opportunities I’ve had. I get to write for my job - how many people get paid to do the thing they love? And I have my blog, which is slowly growing. My friends sometimes ask me to help them with various editorial projects, which I’m always very flattered by. I think I can officially call myself a writer now. You have no idea how proud that makes me!

But I’ve always wanted to do some sort of big writing project. Just for myself. I knew I wouldn't be able to bust out a novel or a screenplay in a year (not with everything else going on my list!) but a start would be nice. Well, inspired by my trip to NYC, I started a little something-something. Maybe I’ll tell you more about it later.

7. FIND A SIGNATURE SCENT


Did I do it? Yes and I smell delicious.

I once read some advice from a Frenchwoman who said: 'you should find your signature perfume by 30 and wear it for the next 30 years'.

I thought that sounded wonderfully romantic but I had a problem: most perfumes smell really artificial and chemical to me when I use them. Strangely, I think they smell great on other people. Just not me. I know, I’m weird.

So, a few months back, I was wistfully loitering around the perfume section of a department store, and someone asked if I wanted to smell the new Alexander McQueen perfume. I said yes, to be polite, but fully expected to be nauseated by the smell. It was unusual at first sniff, pleasant by the second and absolutely delightful for all the suspicious sniffs that followed for the next five minutes.

Naturally, I bought a bottle then and there -  and I still love it.

8. EAT MORE FOODS

Did I do it? Yes.

After my ‘try a new food every week for a year’ kick, I’m pretty good now. I may still be a little bit 'Picky Nikki’ but it’s a vast improvement, for sure!

9. GET IN SHAPE

Did I do it? Mmm *waves hand in a vague manner*

I’m a bit less lazy and I eat a better diet. However, I could definitely do with cutting down on sugar and I should exercise a bit more. Sadly, body confidence is still something that escapes me sometimes - which is as important to me as actually being healthy.

I feel like I’m on the right track, so maybe in a few months I’ll feel more positive. Then again, it’ll be autumn/winter by that point and if I’m not sipping hot chocolates while wrapped in a blanket for 70% of the day, I’ll be disappointed in myself ;)

10. DO MORE ART

Did I do it? Y’know what? I could have made more of an effort.

I was always good at drawing at school, but I took it for granted and now I find it more difficult to get into. Taking time out to do something creative (that isn’t writing/blogging) always falls down the priority list for me, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I think that this year, I will make it a priority - especially as I won’t have so many goals I am trying to achieve.

11. LEARN TO COOK 5 EPIC DISHES

Did I do it? I think so.

I’ve cooked so much more this year. It was part of my ‘eat more vegetables!’ campaign, and I ended up cooking from scratch far more frequently. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought and now I’m not phased at all by the idea of cooking dinner! I’m not sure whether I have five particular dishes that are specialities, but I can certainly cook a whole week of dishes without a hitch.

I didn't have a photo with me and a lovingly prepared dinner, so this is me and a gluten/dairy free chocolate cake.


12. WORRY LESS

Did I do it? Probably.

Cards on the table, I used to suffer from anxiety (frequent panic attacks, incessant worrying and hypochondria) but I learnt how to calm myself down and the bad feelings slowly melted away. In fact, I haven’t had a panic attack in five years. Every year since, I've noticed I am calmer and less worrisome. This year was the same - in fact, I'd class myself as pretty happy and healthy! I possibly overthink a little bit, but perhaps that's just who I am.

Recently, I realised that if I confront problems when I see them instead of hoping they’ll go away, I can avoid situations where I might obsess or worry about things. It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But that’s what I’ll be trying to do in my 26th year.

13. DRINK MORE WATER

Did I do it? Some of the time.

I definitely didn't drink the recommended eight glasses a day until I got a Hydrate M8 bottle. It shows you how much you need to drink every hour, and the whole H2O saga got way easier. Whenever I stop using it, I know I’m drinking less than I should. So, if I can just remember to keep it with me, I’m good.

14. EAT MORE FRUIT AND VEG

Did I do it? HELL YES.

Just in case I hadn't hammered the point home enough, my diet’s been way healthier this year (cue puzzled frowns from colleague as they tot up how much cake I’ve eaten). Fruit and vegetables weren’t my friends, but now I’m all about my veg-te-pals.

15. PLAN A TRIP TO ITALY

Did I do it? Yup, it’s gonna happen.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford a trip to Italy while saving and doing all the travelling I’d already planned, which is why my objective was to ‘plan’ the trip. The main issue was where in Italy to go: Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan? I've now decided on Rome and I’m hoping to go in autumn.

Naturally, I’ve already started on the Italian Duolingo: 'Io bevo latte!'

16. START BUYING BETTER QUALITY THINGS

Did I do it? Yep.

I am now a fully-fledged label checker. ‘Hmm. £30? For a dress that's 98% polyester? I could spend a little bit more and get it in silk or cotton. Much better quality.’

If you’re interested in my quality purchases this year, I got a gorgeous red satchel from the Cambridge Satchel Co. and a delectable rose-gold watch from Olivia Burton. I’d had my eye on both things for years.

I'm hoping to have a fulfilling career as a watch model.

17. SEE MORE LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

Did I do it? Uh-huh!

A couple of highlights? Seeing The Last Shadow Puppets, which was the best thing ever in the whole world. Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Jukebox, who were phenomenal. Russell Brand, who was so funny it might by stomach hurt. And Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular, which was - as the name suggests - spectacular.

18. EAT MORE PIZZA

Did I do it? I SURE DID.

A moment’s silence for all the good pizzas of June 2015 - June 2016. My favourite pizza places are currently Baffi’s and Ballagio’s, just in case you were curious.

Me and my true love.

19. WATCH IMDBS TOP 20 FILMS OF ALL TIME

Did I do it? So close…

I've taken this one very seriously. And what did I learn? I love gangster films! Now I see why people kept banging on about the Godfather.

Alas, one of the top 20 has foxed me: Seven Samurai. I don't really want to buy the DVD (I sense I'll watch it once and that's it) but I am willing to pay whatever Amazon demands to watch it online. And can I find it anywhere? No.

You can see the top-rated 250 films on IMDb, if you want to know how many you've ticked off.

**Update: The very next day I was saved by my colleague James who lent me the DVD! I can tick another goal off the list! :) **

20. KEEP TAKING PICTURES

Did I do it? Yes.

When I’m not lugging by 700D around with me, I’m snapping things for Instagram Stories on my phone. Very few things go undocumented - and that’s exactly how I like it.

I’m also going to keep taking annoying photos of my beloved friends, because one day I’m going to have a photo wall dedicated to our adventures.

21. DISCONNECT FROM TECHNOLOGY MORE OFTEN

Did I do it? Yes, but I’m still learning.

I’m such a phone addict, I need to sort that out. However, I am getting better at disconnecting during important things. I can spend dinner with my phone face down on the table - a loving sign from me to you that I am committed to our conversation (once I’ve taken photos of my food, that is).

22. ORGANISE MORE FUN THINGS WITH THE PEOPLE I LOVE

Did I do it? Absolutely.

What's the point in life if you don't spend it doing fun things with the people you love? In the last 12 months, I’ve had a blast with my friends and family: there've been holidays, day trips, dinner dates and coffee catch-ups. We've picked pumpkins, seen shows, braved piercings and eaten our own body weight in ice cream. I loved every second.

This is my 'I had a fun year' collage. 

23. TRY A NEW LOOK

Did I do it? Yep.

This objective was a thinly veiled reference to my desire for lighter hair (blonde’s the one hair colour I’d never had). And look, see. It’s like, totally kind of blonde. Check!

That's actually my natural hair colour on the left. I am shook - I didn't realise it was that dark!


24. TRY A NEW HOBBY

Did I do it? I did.

Back in January, the lovely Jasmin and I took a calligraphy class. It was with Oh Wonder Calligraphy and it was so much fun! I even purchased a pad of calligraphy paper and a beautiful copper coloured ink to practice with (along with the pen, black ink and templates you get to take home). It was such great value and a wonderful way to spend a morning!

Proof I know the alphabet.

25. KEEP MAKING VIDEOS

Did I do it? Er… no.

I just checked my YouTube channel. I managed to publish just one video while I was 25. Oops. I don’t know how I managed to complete so many goals while still beginning and ending this list with failure.

So, overall, I think I deserve a B+ for this year. I don't hold a driving license, I don't have many YouTube videos and I've not seen Seven Samurai. But I have gone on some nice holidays,  I eat vegetables and I'm starting to get pretty damn chill. 

I'd really love to know if you've set yourself any goals - if so, how are they going? If I can do it, anyone can!


Next year?

Tackle my problems head on. Take time out to relax and make beautiful things. Go to Italy and eat all the pizza. Keep spending as much time as I can with my loved ones. That's all from me :) 

See you when I'm 26! 

Love,

Nikki xxx
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