Cannot quite believe it but here we are at the end of a very long, obstacle-riddled year I am not quite sure I survived.  It is not uncommon for me to brush aside uplifting moments in favour of dwelling on things that weigh me down so today, sitting in the living room on my very red couch, cradling my trusty hot water bottle, I flipped through the pages of my battered journal to relive my version of the year 2017.


It is funny how obsessed one can be with perfection and preserving ideas formed long ago based on a  narrow perception of things; leaving little-to-no room for evolution or complete transfiguration. I cannot speak for every human being that has ever lived but I know I want to spend my life always learning, always living, always joyful, always brave, always loving and always hopeful. This is of course impossible - this year is a testament to that - but I want my life to be as close to this ideal as possible. Last year, I came to the conclusion that the conventional way for me make this a reality in some areas of my life is not an option for me and so ‘Explore’ became my word of the year.


With every great adventure it is to be expected that there will be moments of tension in order drive the story forward right? Yeah, I am not of fan of this fact at all. The trials which swung my way surprisingly left me speechless despite my being well-versed with dramas - not every story in the world has been told so all ye aspiring storytellers out there, keep it at! I did not clear all hurdles gracefully. I did not let go of martyrdom soon enough. I did not grab hold of the right branch on my climbs all the time. I did not pull my weight as a team member. I did not always refer to the map. But all is not lost because for the first time in a long while I was honest with myself; I stood up for myself; I started being kinder to myself. I began to alter the standards I held myself to and explored alternative avenues towards goals, both old and new. And although it was hard to step out from behind the shield of fear, especially with all the world has gone through on a humanitarian, economical, political and faith scale, it is something I want to get better at.


Forced Displacement. Natural Disasters. Brexit. Bombings. Ablism. Racism. Sexism. Homophobia. Sexual and Domestic Violence. Weaponry. Alternative Truths. Net Neutrality. Sadly, these are only the tip of the ‘Global Issues’ iceberg 2017 steered into making it easy for one to slip into ‘feeling helpless’ mode. But that is not an option everyone opted for. The voices of the marginalised were still amplified this year: some taking it to the streets in protest; hosting and attending benefit concerts; sharing what they've learnt on creative platforms; lending spare rooms to the homeless; holding leaders accountable for their actions; donating to charities passionate about assisting those in non-ideal situations. This year challenged me to not only stand up for what I want but also for the needs of the many. And although I have not yet found a unique way of doing just that, I am confident I will. Why? Because I know all too well that complacency solves nothing and, as Donald Miller rightly said, ‘fear is a manipulative emotion that tricks us into living a boring life’.


2017 was not all bad: Sat in on a Q&A with Barry Jenkins (Director: Moonlight); travelled to Edinburgh, Plymouth, Kent and Barcelona; became a volunteer for the London Korean Film Festival and HOME; got a second job that’s peeled back a layer of the world of theatre; saw a bunch of thought-provoking theatre shows, films and television shows; resurrected my love for music at Parklife; attended  the award ceremony for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting where I saw Russell T. Davies in the flesh; traded my phone for an actual voice recorder for my interviews; picked the brains of talented and  welcoming creatives; learnt who my true friends and family are.


And so, it is with all this new knowledge and experience that I’ll meet 2018 and agree to craft a life I am proud of.  I trust 2017 did not leave you too bruised but if it did, I pray we all have many heartwarming moments at the beginning and middle and end of every tunnel in 2018.