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And there we have it, just one more day left of this year! Where have the days gone?

I've been at work today, slowly but surely getting over the jet lag "situation" and a dreaded not-quite-a-cough illness with the aid of copious amounts of coffee Lemsip. Honestly, 24 years of life and frequent flying and I have never mastered jet lag after this particular route. Give me strength and let me wear Christmas pyjamas for the rest of time.

I wanted to do a little round-up of the year but I've done, seen and experienced SO much, I can't work out the best way to do it! 2015 has been a year, hasn't it? It's been... yeah, a year. Living and working abroad and being planted somewhere in the middle of being Chinese and British and an expat and someone that's visited the country yearly all at once has taught me so many valuable lessons, if not left me in a world of confusion. Mostly I feel at odds with myself for wanting to do everything and be everything all at once, immediately. In 2015, I lost friends, cemented friendships with the best bunch, relaunched a baby (A for Aesthetic), travelled, laughed, cried, travelled some more, been horrifically ill essentially every other month, almost been mugged on my 24th birthday, I've woken up on a beach, slept under the stars, been angry at time differences, stayed up until 6am on the phone, become instant friends with people I've met in a pub, spent countless lunch breaks at the beach, had a squishy reunion with my Girl Gang, dealt with a gecko 'situation', saw Ed Sheeran live, bought my very first rug, marvelled at 20p ferry rides, genuinely cried because I missed a Taylor Swift concert for the first time ever, I saw Beast for the first time ever, bought my first ever Chanel bag, I spent Valentine's Day with 2PM, visited Disneyland, hiked, watched a thunderstorm from a flight, baked a successful batch of brownies, got surprised at a train station in the pouring rain... and that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Anyway, I digress! What I really wanted to do was share twelve of the lessons I learnt in 2015, seeing as my dating edition went down so well ;) (Pull up a beverage and a cosy chair, it's a long one.)

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ONE | You really don't 'need' material possessions
When I arrived in my new lodgings, all I had was one suitcase and a handbag full of things. (And that carry-on suitcase of shoes and handbags...) I'd only packed about 5% of my bedroom up, mostly because I was thoroughly unprepared and in denial about leaving the country, and to this day, I wonder why on earth I'm such a hoarder. For me, I realised that being so involved in the blogosphere as both a writer and reader made me accidentally think that I needed X interiors prop or Y beauty product. And honestly? I don't. I'm doing perfectly well without it all.

TWO // Get offline. Do things offline and wear things offline
Hi, I'm Michelle and I nearly stopped blogging this year. I was going to write 'quit', but that’s kinda dramatic for a hobby, heh. But don't feel guilty about spending some time offline once in a while. I know that lots of us – me included – blog because we're homebodies at heart, but a few times a week, go out, don't turn your mobile data on, don't even take music with you, visit a friend, find a cute coffee shop, go for a run, or stay indoors, bake for your Mama, call your Granny. And wear things offline! Some of my favourite outfits, favourite moments and favourite people are completely undocumented this year and that's fine too. Take the pressure off sharing every moment.


THREE | Sleep
At some point in the year, I threw caution to the wind with the go-getter lifestyle. The whole, work hard, play hard mantra. Yes, I do still want all of the same things, if not more, and I am going to go and get it, but please, I need some sleep. When you’re tired, go home and sleep. Sleep is not for the weak. Sleep is for ensuring you can do the things you need to in the morning. Also: skin.

FOUR // Go with your gut
I didn't want these to sound so generalised but, honestly, no one on this planet knows you better than yourself. Or your wise owl of a younger sister. If your intuition is telling you something, annoyingly, you're 99.9% right. So your intuition might not be telling you 'good' things per se, but you’re doing a really really frikken good job at doing you, give yourself a break and trust yourself.


FIVE | It's okay to text first, double text, not text back. Stop with the texting games
If I had a penny for every minute that my friends and I have spent dissecting the meaning of 4-hour gaps between texts, one less kiss on the end of a message, whether you can text twice if you saw something you really to share, etc. I’d be a bloody millionaire. This year has been the year of dramatic dating in my clan and, you know what, the girls and I are doing much better sans rules. Text first if you woke up first, text first if you’re on the other side of the world and know they’re about to sleep, send two texts in a row if you absolutely-must-share-that-cute-dog-photo. Be enthusiastic if you want to. Reply immediately if you want to. Reply after your Netflix binge if you want to. Don’t reply at all if it necessitates.

SIX // Scattering kisses in texts is a pretty British thing
Honestly, people don't do that here and I learnt the awkward way. While we’re here... why tf do we do that?!


SEVEN | Never let anybody dull your sparkle
Can I get a hell yeah for a Gossip Girl reference even after all this time? Always. +10 Hufflepuff points for a bonus Harry Potter reference. This is SO important guys. One of the hugest 'lessons' I learnt this year was to be myself. Be the real you, as much and as often as you can, until you become perfectly confident in yourself. While this hasn’t made me confident per se, it has meant that I'm confident in doing me. Never let so-called friends, strangers or men dull your best self, your sparkle. Surround yourself with people that 'get' you and that help you become an even better you. It sounds selfish, but try it. Also, stop saving outfits for special occasions. Wear that sh!t hot new outfit to the supermarket. Wear it around the house.

EIGHT // Trust the timing of your path
I am a reflective sort of person. It doesn't matter how many times you tell me to stop dwelling on the past: I'll do it anyway. Thanks to Timehop, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on 'this time last year', 'what if...' and if anything, it just serves as a regular reminder that things are going to be okay. They might not be the 'okay' that you imagined but they will be far more okay than you could imagine. Never did I ever imagine that I’d pluck up the courage to move abroad completely alone. Never did I ever imagine that I’d pluck up the courage to seemingly lose touch with school friends and have them come back and be the best pals ever. I’m SUCH a huge believer in the whole 'if things are supposed to happen, they will' mindset, but at the same time, I don't live by it and expect everything to be handed to me.


NINE | Call your loved ones more. Tell people how you really feel
With a seven- or eight-hour time difference to contend with, keeping in touch with people truly is my forte. This year I learnt a lot about that whole 'real friendship' thing. Distance will really – and brutally, at that – pick out the good from the bad. When things weren't great here, my friends from home were instantly ready, even if it was 4am their time. Call your loved ones more and just chat about nonsensical things. Make sure you tell people how you really feel because you might not speak to them again. (I didn’t mean this to be that morbid, but hey ho, still applies.) Value your friends and loved ones above everything else. I had a lot of doubt about maintaining friendships, etc. when I moved but if anything, it's taught me that good friendships always stand the test of time and distance.

TEN | Do everything wholeheartedly
There's no point in being 75% there. Last year I adopted a 'go hard or go home' mentality and attempted to carry it through 2015. You'll be so amazed at the things you'll do, see, achieve and experience when you put your all towards it. Try your best at pushing insecurities and shyness aside, because we're all doing the same kinda thing really. None of us are perfect but we can damn well try at it.


ELEVEN // Be spontaneous and brave once in a while
Whether that's reaching out to an old friend that you miss or deciding to hop on a bus and just go, be spontaneous every now and again and have an adventure! You are always braver than you feel. Book that holiday you’ve wanted to do for ages. Say 'yes' to your first blog event. Become the person you admire.

TWELVE | Be kinder than you feel
Let's finish on a high, shall we? Always be kinder than you feel. I've always fretted about being a pushover (which, to some extent, I still am), but nothing in the world beats kindness. Open the door for someone, help someone out with a pound at the trolley park, bake cookies for your colleagues, volunteer somewhere for a weekend, pay somebody a genuine compliment at least once a day... You know that comforting feeling when taxi drivers accidentally manage to give you awesome life advice? Be that girl: the world could always use a sprinkle of kindness.

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2015, you've been so much fun. Happy New Year ladies, may 2016 bring you everything you wish for!

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