After last week’s post about the things I’ve learned during the last twelve months, I of course had to follow it up with a roundup of the year. Not only do I love a good reflections post, it’s a great opportunity to take a glance back at what the year has entailed and it’s a great diary entry, if you will, for me to look back on in the future.
Whilst this year has had its fair share of downs from my health to uni stress and the difficulty of not finding paid employment, there has also been some incredible highlights. I have achieved things which I only ever thought would be a dream and I’ve had some amazing memories which I’ll cherish forever.
So, as 2019 looms just around the corner, I wanted to take this opportunity to take a little look back on the year which has just gone by – here are just 18 highlights from 2018.
1. The Script at Manchester Arena
The Script’ concert at Manchester Arena was my first concert of this year. My brother and I went along back in February and we had such a good evening. It was my first time seeing The Script and it was also my brother’s first ever concert so it was lovely to experience that with him. If you fancy hearing more about our time at the concert, you can read my concert experience here.
2. Starting my degree with The Open University
I was pondering for a while as to whether or not I’d include this one as a highlight because it’s definitely not been a walk in the park and, between you and me, I have been struggling with my work recently. But, I think it deserves a mention.
After uming and ahhing for such a long time in terms of what I wanted to do when it comes to further education, I finally bit the bullet and started studying a BA (hons) degree with The Open University back in February.
Despite struggling with the work, I passed my first module with an overall examination score of 85% and an overall assignment score of 72%, I also passed the first assignment of my second module only three marks away from a distinction, so, I guess, despite the work not being my cup of tea at the moment, I have a lot to be proud of. I definitely exceeded my expectations and I definitely need to stop putting as much pressure on myself.
3. My RNIB campaign videos
Whilst I still cringe when watching these videos back, I wanted to include them in this post because being able to work on campaigns such as RNIB’s #HowISee campaign is such a rewarding feeling for me. I felt so honoured when the charity asked me to take part in the campaign at the beginning of the year by filming two videos, one on the topic of whether or not I want my eyesight back and the other talking through my experience of using the white cane.
As you’ll know if you’ve been reading for a while, raising awareness of vision impairment and working with charities is something I’m really passionate about so this was a very proud moment for me and I hope I can do more of the same next year.
4. Manchester adventures
One of my closest friends, Holly and I stayed at Salford Quays for a few nights back in March, a break away that consisted of so much laughter which I always think back to when I’m not feeling the best.
Cane adventures were in full swing but we managed to navigate our surroundings without tripping or getting lost – always an achievement when venturing somewhere new as a blind/VI person. Saying that, I did walk into a massive pillar which my cane conveniently missed but lets not focus on that. The amazing memories definitely made up for it.
5. Becoming a VICTA Children Young Ambassador
Back in April, I became an ambassador for the charity VICTA Children, a role I’m incredibly proud of. I work alongside 5 other Young Ambassadors to create a bi-annual e-magazine and it has been such a great experience which has allowed me to express my passion for writing even further. I also had the opportunity to interview journalist and author (just to name a few of her roles), Sali Hughes, which again was an amazing experience for me.
That interview translated into my first article for the e-magazine, you can read it here if you’re interested. We’re currently working on our second issue which will be released early next year, I can’t wait to share it with you!
Our meetings down in Milton Keynes have been great and it’s so lovely to meet other blind/VI people who all have different interests but share a really big passion for writing.
6. Time with friends
You know the laughter that makes your belly hurt and leaves tears streaming down your face? That’s what most of the times I’ve had with my friends have consisted of this year. From our visits to Weatherspoons to shopping trips and end of year catch ups, my friends are the best kind of medicine a girl could ask for.
7. Seeing Ed Sheeran in concert for the first time
The second concert of 2018 and the best I’ve been to was Ed Sheeran’s stadium tour in Manchester, there’s no other word to describe Ed’s concert other than incredible.
I went along to the Etihad with my brother, his friend and one of my friends and it was undoubtedly the best night of live music I’ve ever experienced. I cannot wait to see him again next year.
8. Taylor Swift in concert
Only two weeks after Ed’s concert, T-Swift was performing at Manchester’s Etihad stadium where my brother and I went along to see her.
I’ve loved Taylor’s music for about a decade and have always wanted to see her live so for that to become a reality this year was incredible.
I wrote about the concert here.
9. Being featured in Blogosphere Magazine
When Blogosphere Magazine announced their top 10 #InTheSpotlight bloggers on Twitter back in May, it was a complete surprise to be named in the list. Three people from that list were then chosen to be featured in the June edition of the magazine, I was adamant that I wasn’t going to be one of them but then came the exciting email to prove me wrong.
I felt so honoured to be featured in a magazine alongside some amazing people and to be featured in a mainstream magazine as a disabled blogger made it even more special, thank you Blogosphere!
10. My 20th birthday
For my birthday this year, one of my closest friends came to stay with me for a long weekend, we went out for a meal with one of my other close friends on my birthday, we went on cable cars the following day and had a wander around some local gardens on her last full day with me – wild, I know.
Filled with lots of laughter, random conversations mixed in with the deep ones, it was definitely a weekend to remember.
11. Winning at the Teen Blogger Awards
I was nominated for three Teen Blogger Awards back in the summer which was an achievement in itself, I had absolutely no expectation of going on to win two of said awards. It still feels surreal to me that I won the awards for the Best Lifestyle Blog of 2018 and the Best Blog Post of 2018, absolute madness I’m telling you!
12. Being featured in Golwg magazine
Golwg is quite a well-known magazine here in Wales and I was so honoured to be interviewed for it back in August. The article was then discussed on Prynhawn Da which is a magazine programme which airs every week day on S4C (a Welsh TV channel). It was such a lovely surprise to hear the presenters discuss my blog and I received lovely feedback from people who read the magazine, I’m honestly so grateful to anyone who takes the time to reach out to me in any way.
13. London with my friends
I mentioned this in last week’s post but it had to be featured again as one of my highlights of the year.
I travelled down to London with two of my best friends back in August for a three night stay in the big city. Although it was tiring, especially since I had never been to the capital before, we had the best time and our trip was jam packed with laughter, bus tours, river boat cruises and a trip to see Wicked at the West End – which was of course, Wicked!
14. My first TV interview
When I was in London, I received an email asking if I’d be interested in being interviewed on a Welsh magazine programme. With my friends being the first to find out and egging me on to say yes, I never could have turned the opportunity down.
The crew came to film back in September and although I was extremely nervous, I really enjoyed the experience and I had such lovely feedback after it was aired which was so overwhelming, in a good way of course.
It was definitely up there as being one of the best experiences of 2018.
15. Being named as one of the most influential disabled people in the UK
Writing this still feels so surreal to me, who would have thought that little ‘ol me would ever be considered as being ‘influential’? My shy and insecure 16 year old self definitely wouldn’t have and, in all honesty, my 20 year old self is still struggling to comprehend the fact that it’s reality.
My brother and I went down to London back in October for the launch event, the event itself was lovely and spending time with my brother was even nicer. It had been a while since we had spent some quality time together so it was definitely needed.
You can read more about my inclusion in the list and the event in this blog post.
16. Being on the radio, twice!
After making an appearance in the local newspaper, I was then asked to be interviewed on BBC Radio Cymru. The nerves kicked in again but it was another great experience which, to my surprise, I really enjoyed.
A few weeks later, I was asked to be involved in another programme on the same station. This time, I was a part of a panel, talking about the subject of speaking about personal experiences publicly. Being a part of the show and my first trip to the radio station is something I’ll never forget.
I’ve been interviewed by BBC Wales again this week so I’ll definitely be sharing the content from that when it comes out.
17. Being nominated in the UK Blog Awards
Another blog related highlight – there have been so many this year which I can’t quite believe, it’s so surreal to me. The nominations for the UK Blog Awards 2019 were announced in November and I was so surprised to be one of the nominees.
The fact that I, and so many of my fellow disabled bloggers, are being recognised in such a way is incredible and I’m so happy for everyone who has been nominated in the first round of next year’s awards.
If you enjoy reading my blog and you have a couple of seconds to spare, you can vote for me by using this link – voting closes tomorrow (Monday) at 12pm so there isn’t long left! Your support always means the world.
You might have guessed already that I do like to do a bit of writing and my passion for it has seemed to grow even more in 2018. I’ve written 52 blog posts (53 including this one) and 12 articles/guest blog posts for other bloggers, websites and charities, something which I absolutely love to do.
I worked with L’occitane on my first ever sponsored blog post back in March which was a real privilege for me since I love the brand, plus, a lot of their products have braille on the packaging, making the brand an even better fit for my blog.
I wanted to include writing as a highlight because I aspire to pursue a career as a writer and this is a great way for me to reflect back on the steps I took in order to make that happen.
For all time’s sake, I thought I’d list 10 of my favourite blog posts I’ve published in 2018:
- Sight loss and isolation: How I overcame loneliness
- My vision impairment: My brother’s perspective
- The Disability Power 100 List: One of my proudest moments
- Beauty without a mirror
- Ed Sheeran concert experience
- Do I want my eyesight back?
- Things I wish I’d known when growing up with sight loss
- Admitting my faults and strengths
- Accepting sight loss: 10 rules I live by
- Me, my disability and my identity
Some of my 2019 aspirations include writing more guest blog posts and articles for magazines, doing more TV and radio interviews (who knew I would enjoy it so much!), work more with charities on campaigns in order to raise more awareness and spread their message, work even harder on my blog and, of course, to keep working hard on my Open Uni degree.
Of course, another highlight that I can’t go without mentioning is the amazing feedback and support I’ve had towards my blog this year.
I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me and my blog in any way over the past twelve months. If you’ve read one post or you’ve been checking in every week, it truly does mean the world.
None of the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to receive this year would have been possible without your support and I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am, thank you so much!
There has definitely been a lot of pinch me moments during the course of this year, things I will never take for granted. I have definitely grown in confidence during 2018 and have done things that I never would have imagined myself doing this time last year and for that, I’m really proud.
I hope I was able to use this little platform of mine to help someone and raise awareness in some way this year. I’ve definitely used my voice a lot more in 2018 and have been more open in my blog posts and, whilst that’s benefited me, I hope it’s been helpful to others as well.
I want to keep pushing for important changes and to use my voice and the platform I have even more in 2019 to raise awareness and hopefully help and motivate others.
Whilst I’ve battled a few demons in my personal life this year, it’s been an incredible 12 months for my blog and I never could have anticipated that at the beginning of 2018 so who knows what 2019 has in store.
I hope 2019 brings you lots of happiness, positivity, success and amazing opportunities.
What have been some of your 2018 highlights? Let me know as I’d love to hear from you.
Until next year!