2018 in retrospective

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So it’s nearly the end of 2018, and quite a year it has been.

A lot happened this year, and overall it’s been good, but I can’t help but feel that I could have done more and also things happened just about right anyway.

As I look back I can think of a few things.

I travelled a lot for work this year, which I always find to be an experience of mixed feelings. On the one hand I am away from home and sometimes can only think about the beautiful feeling of waking up in my own bed. On the other hand, I’m blessed that I get to travel and experience other places, meet other people and see new things, especially that I am able to do most of this without paying for it. I’ve worked hard for this, but I still count my lucky stars regularly to make sure I don’t become complacent or ungrateful.

I also met people this year, made some special friends I’ll never forget, and shared experiences that I didn’t expect. I made mistakes, hit my limits in some respects, and pushed myself to achievements I didn’t think I could.

When I reflect on some of my best experiences this year, some things instantly jump to mind. Firstly, I managed to attend the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines (IOWA) during the summer for 4 days. It was, without a doubt, the most fun I’ve had in the last few years. If anything, just the pure scale of it was awesome, and I mean awesome. I don’t think I can do it justice, but I spent 4 days watching and experiencing an such amazing festival. Highlights were definitely: seeing the prized animals, eating a footlong corndog, deep fried oreos, petting horses, rootbeer floats, milking a cow, horse shows, watching a cow give birth, buying a straw hat, getting called “pardner” while wearing said hat, amazing BBQ, hours spent watching loading/unloading livestock, scotcheroos, watching the pie judging, and cooking with lard judging, among other things. I want to go again.

Randomly, not long ago, I saw my first hockey game in Des Moines, and it blew my mind. It was a spectacle of something profoundly American, not just the game, but the entire evening experience that one of my amazing colleagues bestowed upon me. Since that, I’m officially a fan of ice hockey, and wish I could see it more.

It is experiences like this that I feel force me to grow, because they are so different from my accustomed experiences. It opened my eyes to a new world, new people, and new ways of life.

On the other side of this, there have been some low points to this year. My father passed away, and this event highlighted the deeper issues that exist family. It seems to me that in the wake of every funeral I’ve seen in my family, there is a protracted phase of in-fighting between those left behind. I knew such issues always existed, but I had always hoped that events such as this would bring us closer together, in our grief. But people have their own wills, it seems.

I’ve also lost friends that I wished could still be. The truth is, people will come and go throughout our life, scenery will change and life begins anew. The world will keep on turning regardless of how low we feel, and new people will be encountered, who have every chance to mean more to us than those that came before. It all comes down to how open we are to the future, to new relationships and new beginnings. We shouldn’t be afraid. I try to remind myself to not be afraid.

lastly, the world as I know it has changed in many ways, and will continue to do so in 2019. Effects of change continue to present themselves, for example the imminent exit of UK from EU membership, which affects me personally being a Brit in Netherlands. A lot of uncertainty has followed me around these last 6 months as to my status here. As much as I believe the will of the people is important and should be respected at all times, I also believe that hatred, labelling and blame culture is brought about much of the turmoil in recent history. Because of a lack of bipartisanship leadership, and an recent surge in political polarisation in politics, we are where we are.

It’s going to be an interesting few years ahead, and I see a lot of change coming for my own future, but I don’t know what that will look like yet.

And so, onto 2019…

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