Because if you can’t reflect on what you’ve accomplished on your birthday, when can you?
1. Started a design business — or started freelancing as a designer, whichever. I filled up my Etsy shop in the wee hours of November 8, 2013, and hopefully I’ll have redesigned all the graphics by the end of the weekend. I’m also raising my prices tomorrow, so if you’ve been thinking about hiring me, today would be an excellent time!
2. Discovered print design via media kits, and realized if I could only ever do print design with the occasional logo and larger project thrown in, I would be a happy designer.
3. Designed a magazine cover with my face on it. This was last week, but it counts.
4. Modeled professionally — i.e. for money — for the first time in my life.
5. Was on a boat also for the first time in my life. For a shoot. Wore a wedding dress for the first time in my life, also for a shoot. Modeling is kind of awesome, but can be terribly exhausting, too.
6. Attended my first ever blogger event. It was interesting. My social anxiety reached highs (lows?) I’d forgotten it could reach, but I’m glad I went.
7. Met my best friend in person again for the first time since 2008.
8. Photographed a fashion shoot with a full creative team for the first time in my life. It was one of those experiences where you learn a few things the hard way — both about yourself and about other people, the creative industry, the importance of agreements and so on. I haven’t shared this shoot on the blog yet, but I will sometime this month. I’m proud of those photos, and I enjoyed working with the creatives on that team.
9. Photographed products for money for the first time! That’s another shoot I’m dying to share with you guys. Not only did I photograph them, but I also modeled them. Self-portraiture commercial photography is so much fun when you’ve got a little bit of help.
10. Photographed real-life people who were actually there to be photographed. Not for money, yet, but hopefully sometime soon. I’ve posted two bits of shoots so far: Christine Cherry and Leigh Travers. But there’s a fair bit more.
11. Volunteered to photograph a Pride event. Need to share those photos on the blog, too, probably. This list may be a list of posts to come, ha.
12. Got used to getting out of the house and walking at least ten minutes every day again for the first time since I dropped out of college (again) in 2009.
13. Went off antidepressants. It was horrible. I needed a change, and I stabilized eventually, but I had some of the worst days I’ve ever had. I was suicidal and crying and couldn’t do anything.
14. Had a lot of breakdowns over money. Had some of the truly worst days of my life. Survived them all.
15. Started making money regularly, if only because I needed it to stay housed and fed. Didn’t always make it on time, but things worked out somehow. In this new year of my life, I would like to take the “somehow” out of the equation.
16. Flathunted for the first time in my life. It was horrible. It did a number on my mental health. It really was my least favorite thing I did this year. The thought of having to do it again sometime makes me understand why people pay exorbitant agency fees. Then again, I’d probably have had less trouble flathunting if I’d had that kind of cash. Things worked out, anyway. Somehow. Stroke of luck. I don’t want anyone to think there’s a trick or a way to make it through flathunting in London on a tiny budget unscathed. There isn’t, unless you have a stroke of luck.
17. Lived in Ciudad Real, Spain, with my parents and sister and cat; lived in Belsize Park with my best friend for a very short time; lived in Leicestershire with a friend I met through this blog for another short time; lived in Ladbroke Grove with two cats and a puppy (and a landlady); lived in Streatham with a kitten (and no one else); lived in Crouch End with a flatmate whose father was the owner of the flat; lived in Hampstead Heath with a host family (and another lodger); lived — live — in Belsize Park in a rented room in the landlady’s flat, with said landlady and two cats and another lodger (and as of today, one besides).
There was a lot of moving. A lot of temporary solutions and things that didn’t work out. I have a year-long lease now, and I’m hoping it will last the year, at minimum. See #16.
There were also quite a few cats.
18. Wrote for money for the first time in my life. Truly never thought I’d be able to make money off my writing, so it’s been an interesting turn. I need to be more consistent about it, because I truly suck at that bit, but there’s potential for regular income and that’s really important to me.
I also designed an infographic.
19. Had a crush on a real live person for the first time in ages. I forgot about it until a few weeks ago, and then I was like, wait, no, it wasn’t that long ago that I last had a proper crush. I was still on antidepressants, so it was a bit different from crushes past, but it was definitely a crush. It’s just good to know I haven’t lost my ability to be attracted to real-life people, you know? Years of basically being a hermit can make you wonder.
20. Was on my own for my birthday for — the second time, actually. First was in college, the first time, when I was in a dorm. Similar bad place, similar journaling bits, only now I depend on myself, and I mostly make it work. But I haven’t cried in a really bad way yet, and that’s kind of amazing.
21. Skipped the Spanish summer, and could not be happier about that. Finally. (Sorry I missed my sister’s birthday, but you know. I wasn’t in the country.)
22. Designed a mockup of my ideal blog, and delegated the coding to a friend. This was also last week, and it also still counts. I’m straightening out my branding and I’m very, very happy with the way it’s turning out.
23. Invested in a few things — was able to invest in a few things — starting with a tripod and a tablet, and ending with a flight to another country for the purpose of a trip to see my best friend or maybe staying, if I could make it work for me.
24. Made it work for me, and stayed in London. Six months last week. When 2013 started, I’d made that the year I got out, and it never happened — but it happened four months into 2014. Despite all the stress, all the worrying, all the breakdowns, all the times I’ve missed my cat and my guitar and my mom, not necessarily in that order; despite how hard it’s been, I’m so, so, so proud of myself for taking the plunge and getting that flight ticket.
I try to keep that in mind, because it was a true display of bravery that I didn’t think I was capable of. I really thought it would never happen, not on my own. But I’m here, and I’m finding my footing, and all through the pessimistic bits, all the hopelessness, this is where I want to be. This was my dream move, and I made it happen.
So, those are some things I did when I was 24. I still need to go through my 25 Before 25 list and see how hard I failed at it, but I did make progress on some of it. And then I’ll see about putting together a 26 Before 26 — or maybe not until I’ve accomplished at least 50% of the 25 list. That seems doable, yeah? I think it does.
Back to work now — that’s what I’m doing for my birthday, trying to use the motivation of a new beginning to get on track. I blogged about this on Tuesday, and my birthday wishlist is still open if anyone wants to buy me anything. Like I keep saying: book me for a shoot and I’ll buy that 50mm lens and use it on you. Do it for my birthday. Or for yourself. I do take excellent pictures, and I do excellent design things with them.