If I had to use a gif to describe 2016 it would be this one:

A feeling of impending doom has been prevalent throughout the year with all the depressing shit that has been going on in the world, and it applies to me on a personal level too. Through most of the year, my brain has felt like a massive storm was approaching. I’ve mostly been overwhelmed, unable to think clearly and not really there. However, that doesn’t mean everything in 2016 was bad. In fact, 2015 was a much worse year. Now that the storm has passed, I need to put an end to the year by focusing on its positive aspects, which were many and very relevant.

1. I met many people who mean a lot to me

When I moved abroad and realised that my situation was not what I expected, I knew that I had to make new friends quickly if I wanted to feel relatively okay. I met people who were there for me when the person who should’ve been there wasn’t, who made me feel welcome, who were more than happy to include me in their plans, who helped me pack all my books when I decided to move back to Spain. Hell, I even have plans to go to at least 4 different countries next year with one of them (and a matching tattoo). I’m thankful for my failing relationship because it made me open up to other people, and now I actually can’t imagine my life without some of them in it.

2. I made one of the most important decisions ever

This is a story for another post, but this year I managed to be strong enough to take action on an issue that has been a problem for me since before I was born. I feel like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

3. I embraced therapy

After a bad experience with a psychologist some years ago, I had decided that therapy just wasn’t for me. Earlier this year I found myself at a turning point that that had the potential to bring me a lot of drama (surprise: it did), so I found myself a therapist to try to avoid the explosion. It didn’t really work out like that, but therapy has been a great help this year. It helped me to stay sane before and after the move, and right now it’s helping me to take back control of my life.  I’ve had three very different therapists in the past six months, and they’ve all helped me in different ways. Asking for help was definitely one of the best decisions I made last year.

4. I saw some of my favourite bands

The first show I went to this year was At The Drive-In back in April. The fact that I didn’t go to any shows in four months is a clear indicator that something was wrong with me. Thankfully, this changed in summer and seeing bands made me feel alive again.

5. I visited a lot of new places

Last year I bought my parents a holiday to Tuscany for Christmas, a holiday that included me going with them, so I always knew that 2016 was going to bring some great travel experiences. In summer, I went to Slovenia with a bunch of my best friends to see the Descendents, and we liked the location so much that we’re going again next year. I went back to London after four years to see one of my best friends in the world get married in a wedding that was without a doubt the most amazing one I’ll ever go to. After years wanting to go to Chicago, I went there for a conference and fell in love with it so hard that I’m going back next month. While I was in the States, I decided that seeing the Descendents once when I could see them twice was a stupid thing to do, so I went to Philly for a couple of days. Both 2015 and 2016 have been really hard years, but they’ve also been years in which I’ve travelled more than ever, and that’s been really fucking great.

6. I took my mother to places

When you have a child at 18 you miss out on a lot of experiences. My mother has always put me first and, as a result, I’ve travelled a lot more than she has. She sent me away to spend summers in England when she’d only been abroad for day trips. She’s always supported all my crazy ideas of going somewhere really far away to see bands I love because she knows as well as I do that that’s the kind of thing that keeps me sane. I’ve always felt a bit guilty that I’ve seen more of the world than she has, and I’m working on solving that. This year she went to Italy for the first time. When she came to visit me in Munich, we went to Nürnberg for a couple of days, and when she came to rescue me last month, we tried to make ourselves feel better by spending a few days in Austria, and it worked.

7. I finally started listening to new music again

One of the first signs of depression for me is that I lose interest in listening to new music. I stick to a couple of bands that I listen to compulsively and forget that there’s anything else out there. It recently dawned on me that I’ve missed out on pretty much anything any band I like released in the past two years. I have no clue what was released in 2015 or 2014, but I assure you a lot of stuff I absolutely love came out in 2016.

8. I got to spend time with people I barely see

I miss people all the time. I know it’s impossible for me to ever have all my favourite people in one place. In 2016 I got to spend time with people I hadn’t seen or spent much time with for years, which felt amazing and, in many cases, really strengthened our friendship.

9. I finished chapter 1 of my thesis

I’m not gonna lie, it’s taken me YEARS to write this thing. I’ve felt really blocked when it comes to my studies, so finishing chapter 1 is a really big deal for me. It’s never taken me so much effort to write anything, and finishing it feels like I can finally move on and continue.

10. I got through a very difficult situation without totally losing it

If my life had always been as fast-paced as it’s been during the past two months, I would have died of a heart attack before my first birthday. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve certainly shed a lot of tears and had moment’s I’d rather forget. In spite of that, I feel like I’ve been handling all these changes pretty well, and I’m proud of myself for that.