I‘m sat in York Hospital, racked with chest pains, knees like jelly. Inside me, an angry man-child is stomping around, kicking over his toys.
I waited too long. I didn’t do enough. I listened to the wrong advice, the wrong people. I let myself be guided by my insecurities. I didn’t follow…
Then the doctor returns with my ECG results (just a bunch of numbers on a printout, because modern medicine has no sense of drama) and it seems there’s nothing wrong with me. I can go home again…but to what?
It’s tempting to look back over the last 10 months and see it as a reaction to that supremely terrifying moment back in February. I’m really tempted. You might just fall for it. I could string out a few emotive descriptions (“the fog cleared from my thoughts and I Knew What I Must Do,” or “it was like Fate handed me a can of Red Bull and then kicked me in the nuts while I drank it”) but it would be an embellishment too far.
Let’s stick with the truth and see what happens.
At the beginning of this year, I knew it was time to leap – and my heart scare only hastened the process along. In April I quit my job and left York for Parts Unknown, which right now is a fairly apt synonym for “East Yorkshire”. I did this on instinct, with nothing certain, no safety net and no long-term plan. I did it because it felt the right risk to take. Since it’s Christmas and I am still not dead, that risk seems to have paid off. (So far).
So, what was 2012 for?
- Public Speaking. I spoke twice this year, both times at conferences organised by Travel Bloggers Unite. At the first, in Umbria (Italy), I outlined the importance and ubiquity of storytelling — a lecture that I later turned into a free storytelling ebook. In Porto (Portugal) I talked about why blogging is applied storytelling, and why an About page is like that very first chapter that hooks you into reading a story to the very last line.
- Reading. From Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal to the Digital Writer’s Guide To Building Assets from Sean Platt, there have been a number of books that thrilled me and helped me boil down all the possibilities into the things I really want to do for a living. Want the full list? Pop back soon for a sequel to this post from 2011.
- People. This was a year for turning two-dimensional headshots into 3D people I could sit and eat cake with. I met many people for the first time this year, and reconnected with many others, professional and personal friends alike (and the many folk who now fit both labels). To all of you I spent time with this year, it was a pleasure and we need to do it again soon, if not sooner and ideally soonest. To friends I didn’t catch up with (so close, Elena; alas, Keith; what on earth, Mari?), I’m not sure what happened there but it clearly needs fixing. And to good friends that still remain virtual (because yes, they still count as good friends), our friendship deserves that extra dimension. Let’s find it.
- Homecoming. I’m British, but I wasn’t born in this country. I grew up in Cyprus, and that feels like home to me, but I’d never visited the place I began until this year. In February I went to Germany, attended ITB Berlin, walked across Berlin and was spectacularly robbed in Düsseldorf. Welcome back, Mike.
- Clarity. Shortly after leaving my job, I wrote about this – the thing that keeps self-help books flying off shelves at a rate that might make anthropologists want to reclassify modern humans as Homo Neuroses. We all want to find the lifestyle that gives us what we need to thrive (maybe not comfortably, maybe not always happily, but always thrilled by where we are & where we’re going). After 8 months, I’ve decided what I need to thrive. In 2013, I plan to go out and get it.
- Perspective. Because of this blog, I get mail. Not the way Kayt Sukel does. My mail usually involves crappy marketing pitches, which is why I made this page. Sometimes it’s offers of work, sometimes it’s the start of beautiful friendships. And just occasionally, it’s a Thank You. Thanks for helping me start this story I’m writing. Thanks for making me feel vaguely normal for saying “I love getting lost in places I don’t know”. Thanks for making me laugh with your latest cringingly embarrassing misadventure, which you must have made up, yeah? (Um, no). Thank Yous. It’s really lovely to get them, but they make me feel like a fraud. Seriously. Fraudy. Because they make me want to fire off similar e-mails to anyone who calls by, reads my blog and takes something useful away from it. They make me want to send Thank Yous to the people who have inspired me online and offline (I’ve done a little of that, but there’s so damn many that I haven’t a hope). I’m grateful for the criticism, the good suggestions and the bad advice I tested until it broke. All these things allow me to do what I love. I’m grateful for everything and everyone around me that fills me with curiosity and wonder, and I want to see what I can do to repay that – other than a woefully insufficient Thank You, to you, right now.
On that uncharacteristically sociable note — I hope you’re having a terrific holiday, surrounded by people you care about, and that you’re anticipating an exciting and fulfilling year.