2017 you’ve been tough and I’m grateful for it.

Would we even be entering a new year if we didn’t reflect on the one that’s just ended? Who’s to say we’ve learned, experienced, explored, challenged, or cried this year if we don’t pay any attention to what actually happened.

I’m a big believer in taking some time out to do this, asking the questions that I tend to avoid, mostly because they require brainpower and a little bit of compassion.

So, here are my reflections on 2017. A year defined by risk, trust, forgiveness, new beginnings and resilience.

Who was I this year?

There’s something liberating about the idea of changing every year. It’s not until you give yourself the time to think back, join the dots and think about the decisions that you made throughout the year that have shaped you to be who you are by the end of it – when you realise, I wouldn’t have dreamt doing that one, two, five years ago.

2017 was a year when I realised I wasn’t being true to myself and I haven’t been for many years. I’ve spent my childhood and teenage years trying to please other people, oppressing who I was, what I enjoyed and the things that actually mattered to me.

Constantly doing things for other people to make them happy and not thinking about yourself sounds noble doesn’t it… Now, I consider it quite dangerous, when you do it to an extent that I did. You only begin to realise it when you’re alone, and you’re confused and uncertain about how you’d like to spend your spare time. When you’re in a conversation and they ask you to talk about who you are, outside of your job, and your only response is ‘I don’t know’ followed by a deep sense of emptiness.

I thought it was an age thing at first, being young… I’m sure everyone my age goes through some sort of, what feels like, an identity crisis but it was my gut that told me different.

“Robyn, take the time you need to find out what you like. Even if it takes you 1, 5, 10 years, it’ll be worth the investment. For now, you can think about the things you don’t like. What clutters your brain? What/who exhausts your energy? What’s taking you away from what fulfils you? Get rid it of. Reclaim your happiness.”

So while the year started of with confusion, it was a year where I gradually made my happiness, identity, and sense of self a priority.

What were some of my peak moments?

  • Travelling to Barcelona, Frankfurt, and Marrakesh
  • The launch of Innovators Hub’s new brand which the team of SB had worked so wonderfully on. Once Innovators Hub, now OH.
  • Launching Catalyst and putting a passion project out in to the world

I couldn’t quite believe it when I was stood in front of the first Catalyst cohort. Overwhelmed with emotions, at the time struggling to pinpoint exactly what the emotion was… But thinking back now — I identify it as fulfilment.

Launching Catalyst meant that I had the opportunity to work with people, finally. And to potentially change their lives and to potentially help them pursue a career — not just any career but a proper career. A career where they’re well informed about what the industry they’re about to go into looks like and where they’ll be using the skills that were once looked down upon by their teachers/parents/everybody because no-one really understands what creativity means. Never mind getting a job where its revolved around creativity. It meant I had the opportunity to unlock them as individuals too, because confidence is too often neglected. Unpicking the negativity that was once preventing them from doing all the things that they dreamt about.

The feeling of fulfilment is hard to come by — but there it was. Every Tuesday, my heart was bursting with absolute joy.

  • Deciding to go back to therapy
  • Moving out to live by myself for 6 month, then moving out to live with Mark
  • Going to The Happy Startup School Ashram in Goa

I was fortunate enough to go on a 7-day retreat with The Happy Startup School and 20 social entrepreneurs from around the world. I’m still struggling to put the trip in to words. I try to here and even that doesn’t do it justice. So I’ll take that for what it is — indescribable.

  • Finding more flexibility in my food – enjoying new places to eat
  • When I’ve made time for myself to practise meditation and yoga, and to go to the gym or go rock climbing
  • Going outside not wearing makeup for the first time since I was 12
  • Being invited to deliver a talk at The Happy Startup School Summercamp and to spend the weekend camping in the field with 120 strangers
  • Going swimming for the first time since I was 11, something I loved but I became too self conscious to continue
  • Time spent with family
  • Visiting Frankfurt and feeling a sense of belonging, I had never experienced a feeling like that before
  • Seeing Catalyst students graduate
  • Discovering a love for philosophy and psychology

What were my challenges?

My biggest challenges this year have revolved around change — change in my mental state, change due to decisions that were made which would leave an impact on what my future would look like, change in who I spent my time with, change in my environment, change in my perspective, change in my beliefs.

With change comes discomfort, but learning to sit with the discomfort is a necessity because it’s only then when you realise the opportunities that are wedded within it.

What did I learn?

  • Your intuition has the answers, listen to it
  • Allow yourself the time to heal
  • Accept some relationships aren’t meant to last — learn what you need from them and walk away
  • You need to forgive yourself before you can forgive others
  • We’re all a work in progress, you’d be a fool to think you’ll ever be finished
  • Continue to define who you are, eliminate who you are not
  • Reconnect your mind and body
  • Reconnect with your inner child
  • Loosen up
  • Be mindful of self-sabotage… Sometimes it is you who is sabotaging your own happiness
  • Stop being busy
  • We all have options
  • Question your narrative
  • Trust in what is now, remember it’s not forever

2017 you’ve been tough and I’m grateful for it.

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