Many of my blog posts have been reflective recently, and I hope to start changing that up soon, but the pandemic has been a time of reflection for me, and it will be especially for the next week or so as I approach my 17th birthday! In light of turning 17, I thought I would look back on my 16th year, analysing what I have learnt from it. 16 was a pretty good year for me, and although I have missed out on almost four months of it, I managed to squeeze in a lot before then… Here’s my highlight of each month in my sixteenth year…
My birth month started the year of well, with me having a small birthday party to celebrate the start of my new year. It felt great to celebrate the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ and the fun my friends and I had, meant that I was sure this was going to be my year…
August was the second month of my extended summer holidays, due to my GCSEs. To be honest, the entire month was pretty much a highlight! I went on holiday to Turkey, and met some incredible people, whom I am still in contact with and they remain a very important part of my life- I promise I will come and visit you guys soon! I travelled to Scotland to visit my Aunt and Uncle, spending a couple of days in the Scottish Highlands, appreciating the calm and peace of the beautiful landscape. Shortly after, I received my GCSE results, which was both a terrifying and amazing experience, and I ,both fortunately and unfortunately, will soon be reliving for my A levels (as of right now…) August came to a close, with my very first festival, Reading, which I will remember for the rest of my life. Across the 30 degree-hot weekend, I saw dozens of household names, and it was the perfect end to an unforgettable summer.
On the 3rd of September 2019, I started at a new school to embark on my two year journey at their Sixth Form. Arriving with no friends, a stiff suit and buildings named after people and places rather than by subject, I couldn’t have felt more out of my comfort zone. Incredibly, as soon as I stepped through the gate, I was met with the most friendly and welcoming students and staff you could imagine. I settled in quickly, becoming louder (and more annoying) each day, and moving schools has become one of the best decisions in my life. It was the start of a new chapter.
My highlight of October was my year 12 & 13 drama trip. We travelled down to Cornwall in a mini-bus, arriving at our own air b & b, ready to explore the area, particularly the Minack Theatre, for our first drama performance. As I stood on the cliffs by the Minack, I realised the beauty of the Cornish Coast. I find it hard to explain, others who have been there will agree, but when you stand by those cliffs, it feels as though you are in a different country, yet this county cannot be placed on earth. I guess you could say I discovered my paradise. I felt slightly ashamed it took me 16 years to find this, but now I have and I have somewhere to be excited to visit, for once without having the leave the country!
This year, I really enjoyed Bonfire Night, attending a couple of bonfires with friends. When I was younger, we used to invite friends over to our own bonfires, and my dad would attempt a firework display, with some being better than others, whilst we toasted marshmallows on the fire. In recent years, we tend to attend community bonfires, where there a bigger crowds and therefore fireworks. I loved the displays this year, and I also now really enjoy spectating fireworks in big crowds. Whether it’s the huddling together with friends when it gets too cold, the wide selection of hot food and drink, or the little gasps from children seeing a display for the first time, I’m not sure, but this year bonfire was definitely one of my favourite nights from November.
I love Christmas, but especially the run up! This year, I traveled to both London and Berlin in December, two incredible places, particularly at this time of year. The streets were lit up, music was playing and the smell of mulled wine wafted across any markets you passed. My visits were both organised by school, so they were educational alongside the fun, enabling me to enhance my learning and also bond with my friends, whilst enjoying the rich culture. My trips created the perfect Christmas season for myself, and I certainly won’t forget this Christmas for a long time!
For whatever reason, January was the party month for me and my friends, including three within the first four days of the month! My friends and I created many laughs, embarrassments and memories, and it was definitely one of the most socially exciting months of my sixteenth year.
In February, I was lucky enough to travel again, this time to the French Alps to embark on a skiing holiday with my family, including our cousins. I improved my technique, sought Prosecco advice from my skiing instructor, bumped into a professional footballer on the plane and only wiped out once or twice… In all honesty, a ‘holiday’ is probably the wrong word, but it most definitely was an incredible adventure, and it was refreshing to spend a week, quite literally, above the clouds.
Although March was the start of lockdown, the last day of school was really special. Everyone came together to give the leaving students as good of a send-off as possible, and although it was bittersweet, it was nice to say one last goodbye. I think for me, it was the well-wishing for each other in this strange, unprecidented way of life that made this day have a positive effect on me- everyone just wanted to smile a little more and hug a little harder for one last time.
My highlight for April was my focus on my fitness during lockdown. With the spare, restricted time, I built myself am exercise regime, which has enabled me to continue to improve my fitness over lockdown and also ensure the extra snacking doesn’t show too much… As a result, I was able to see a boost in my self-esteem and I gained confidence from knowing that I used my lockdown time sensibly, as I looked for gains rather than dwelling on losses.
In late May, the government announced that we would be able to see limited friends and family again. Although at first it was only a one person maximum, it still enabled me to catch up with a couple of friends, which was definitely a highlight of my month, as I miss my friends a lot. The easing of restrictions, also created a wave of hope and optimism across the country and although we still had a long way to go, it reminded me that the rest of my sixteenth year wasn’t a ‘flop’, it was just going to be different.
As the summer holidays drew closer, I was able to start meeting friends more often, and it enabled me to remember how amazing it is to be alive. Although my sixteenth year was disrupted, it didn’t need to be filled with school events, parties, holidays, all I need is the world and people I have around me (sorry if I’m sounding a little cliché…) My friends and I have been spending more time together outdoors, something we wouldn’t normally do as often, and it has been so lovely to socialise in the open air, and just talk, whilst also still having fun. I’ve loved the warm weather, and I hope it arrives again soon, so I can spend more evenings dancing in the sun and the moonlight.
I’ve still got a week and a bit left as a sixteen year old, and I’m very excited to see what this next year brings me. I hope to learn how to drive, work hard in and out of school, pass my a levels, and then party hard! To all those with a birthday in this strange time, it might not be the same, however I hope you make it as fun as possible, and that you do have a very happy birthday!