It feels like it has become some kinda tradition for me at the period of time we are in.. around Christmas to New Year, to become hyper retrospective of myself and the year past. While continuing to look forward towards the new year and it’s forthcoming experiences. New Year is a weird one for me, as if I have something to do, I can really get into it, but if I have no plans, then it really is ‘just another day’ in this cycle of life that we have given the name ‘calendar’. I’ve been doing a look-back on 2023 in my head the past few days, which I think can be a good thing to do. For me it seems to help me clear out all the leftovers that I perhaps didn’t get to or forgot about.. or better still, didn’t realise I’d done or achieved and prepare my body and to a point, my soul for what is to come in the following year. I’ve found myself doing this for at least the past 3-4 years.

So now is the time to go back through 2023 and see what I managed to achieve… January.. I returned for the start of a second year of attending events for, my personal journey from a complete agoraphobic state of depression and constant anxiety build up before, during and post Covid-19 lockdowns to having the ability, experience and self-confidence to travel to and attend events that make me happy and entertain me out there within society. I attended a dance at Sadlers Wells which featured Melanie C from the Spice Girls and followed that up just four days later with going to see Kings Elliot play an intimate gig live in London. This was my first time attending a gig alone, ever! I stood on the corner of the street of the venue for what felt like hours debating back and forward in my head if I was going to go in or not. – I am so very glad that I did. February and March continued the experience through attending more shows and performances with six in March alone – There was a lot of traveling that month. The highlights for me were the Scottish Ballet Company and their jaw-dropping version of ‘Coppelia’, and a very interesting yet much smaller performance from the Tom Dale Dance Company. The event was called ‘Sub:Version & Surge’ and it was at a venue called The Place, an infamous Dance performance space in London. The highlight of this and another highlight of March was to see performer Jemima Brown performing ‘Surge’. This featured music from UK music producer ITAL TEK and was an immersive, audio-visual, genre-breaking performance using Dance, Lights and Projection. – This is where my heart lives. It was truly excellent.

The events continued at a steady pace over the summer and into the autumn of 2023. The next highlight was another smaller performance, this time at the Barbican in London in a venue titled ‘The Pit’ – Very much on-par with Unity, The Place and the likes of the bleacher-style seating blocks leading down to a performance space rather than a stage. I had a front row seat and boy was it close. The performer was another solo artist, this time essentially a DJ who goes by the name ‘Chagall’. This was another very much technology-based dance performance which included lighting that was pre-programmed but also live vocal performances from the artist as well as lighting cues that were controlled or triggered from the motion-capture body-suit that she was wearing. – Very technical, I loved it! In October I took a family member to see a performance of ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’, Locally here in my own City. I have previously seen ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ in London and loved that. This was just as funny with the same style of practical slapstick humour, a very well performed show. I followed that up with – literally – the day after seeing a performance of Metamorphosis and jesus did that one give me something to think about for a while. – If you ever need to put yourself into a spiral of uncertainty.. Go see Metamorphosis. I’ve seen Adam Kay this year too.. A comic who left the medical profession to become a comedian. He’s written several books which are both funny and compelling to read.. But his live show.. No, no thanks. Nowhere near as funny as he believes himself to be. It didn’t feel like a show as such.. he was literally reading extracts from his book with the odd joke thrown in here and there.. That’s not a show!

I ended the year this year with seeing the local LIPA Students and Tutors perform together in an end-of-year Christmas Performance at the local Philharmonic Hall. This was.. fun. Some extremely talented students were performing in, running or had a hand in making this show. It was a good fun experience. Littered with carols and general Christmas cheer. – On the 11th December.. way too early before Christmas to be in the spirit of it – Bar Humbug! But event’s and experiences wise.. I am really grateful for all of the experiences I’ve been able to attend this year and as we move towards 2024, I know that that will continue were possible. (I know because I’ve already got six booked in). I am thinking that in 2024, I will pick and choose my events more carefully. Based only upon things I actually have a passion about seeing, rather than just attending anything that catches my eye. This year I will do my research first before I book. Mostly.

I’ve also started to volunteer this year also. I volunteer my time for a local Charity were I assist with IT support for their drop-in IT center and try to support the paid staff there as best I can throughout the day. I’ve been enjoying the time I’ve spent there and it’s helped to get me to keep going out of the house when I am not off attending events. I can’t remember when I started there exactly but I think it was sometime in March 2023. It started as a one-day a week thing and has grown from there. Some weeks.. it’s too much, but others it feels just about what I can manage. I don’t yet feel ready or prepared enough to ‘return to work’ so while in this state of.. it’s still a limbo, having this to do, to keep my mind occupied, it’s a good thing.

On a more down-to-earth scale.. At the beginning of the year I set out some goals for myself.. these were: Continue to develop and grow confidence – I think I can say, I am still achieving that bit by bit. Put more effort into Content Creation – Well I’ve somehow managed to match the same number of released videos this year as 2022 so I should be pleased with that. Create & Host a Podcast – There have been plans in the works for the past three months or so, and this will actioned and put into effect early in 2024. Setup my steering wheel and get back into racing games – Ok, got me there, haven’t achieved that. But I have ‘used’ a steering wheel and pedals to play a racing game this year – does that count?! – For what it’s worth, it really lit up a fire under me in wanting to get back to doing it regularly, so that’s a refreshed goal! Rediscover the joy of Gaming – I’d say this is ‘in progress’. It’s been a topsy-turvy year for this. My will and want to continue to play games hasn’t gone anywhere, but I have been swayed by the actions and thoughts of others within my gaming space. I need to not allow that to happen in 2024. I need to remember that I can enjoy playing games in a multiplayer environment, but it doesn’t have to be exclusively that. I can have fun alone too. More on that soon! Learn to ride a motorbike – Nope, that didn’t happen, and Dedicate some time to learning about game development.. Well you know, I did do some research… I am not sure it’s really what I want to be spending my time doing. I really have no doubt that it is the kind of thing that can be learnt, that’s obvious, but do I have that kind of mental capacity to give over to it? That I am unsure of. I think my focus might be, being pulled in other directions. Even further more down to earth.. This year I got hold of an air fryer and just today I have used it for the first time. I’ve done air frying in the past but this was the first time in many years it feels like and I have to say I really enjoyed the snacks I cooked in it (nothing adventurous), but I did save them from being burnt in the oven, and a start is a start. So, there’s another achievement for the books! 

One thing I haven’t managed to get done this year is to setup my CIC. My business ideas have been developed onwardly throughout the year, but I haven’t yet managed to get it to become a registered Entity. Time has always eluded me, or my lack of ability to make or schedule the time to complete it’s planning and get it up and running. I made the decision in early December to push it to 2024, and I see a daily reminder on my to-do list to return to it. I’d like to get it to a stage where it’s ready to run.. were it’s essentially running in all but name and registration. I am hopeful that that will be achieved during 2024.

So lets get to the point of what all of this retrospective thinking is leading to.. My ‘breakthrough’. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but sometimes the biggest realisations are the small things, and sometimes it’s the small things that have the greatest effect. A lot of the time during my day to day life I wind myself up thinking that I haven’t done enough to achieve the things I want to achieve. I find it hard to stop and take stock of where I am and what I have achieved – with that in mind, you can perhaps understand how hard it was to write what’s above. I never find myself feeling that I’ve done enough on a task to consider myself to have made progress. I am constantly looking for that feedback that what I’ve done is good enough. Of course it never comes from myself. And I think that perhaps that in itself has been something which has been holding me back. I am trying to do so much, not achieving any of it and looking back on it in some kinda failed state. I am expecting too much of myself and what I am doing. I think the lesson I need to learn is that if I get only an hour of ‘work’ done a day, as long as I’ve made an effort to try to get something done, then THAT in itself, is enough. 

I think that sometimes I’ve pushed myself to do.. volunteering, my own development work, company development work, traveling or attending events, family life, financial life and whatever other interests I have at any given time. That’s too much to handle all at the same time. So I am entering 2024 with the mindset of trying to be more focused on less things at once, which will hopefully propel me forward to get to a point where I can actually see and realise I am achieving progress. So if I do an hour of development work on a project, then that’s an hour of development work I didn’t previously have, that idea has been pushed along its route to creation and I am an hour closer to a goal. – Does that make sense?

If I really take a moment to think about things… I’ve achieved a great deal this past year. So I have, ‘made progress’. I’ve hopefully put myself in a better position, a position closer to what I want and need for myself than I was at the start of 2023. I need to take a step back sometimes and look and see that. I sometimes forget why it is that I have been gifted with this available time… I mean I don’t forget, it’s always there underneath everything.. It’s just.. I feel like, while I find myself in my current state of mind, state of body and soul, while I find myself in this current mental headspace, while I don’t feel ready to face the challenges of a full on return to society yet. I feel like I am moving closer to it. I feel like this won’t last forever, and I feel like while I have this time and opportunity, it would be stupid to simply let it slide me by.

I still don’t believe in new year resolutions, or in the fact that it’s anything other than another day, except we change the 3 to a 4 and start a new lap around the sun. But as life tends to go, there will be ups and downs. Hopefully more ups than downs this year, but that remains to be seen. I do intend to try to follow my heart and trust my gut more this next year. If something feels right, go for it. Nothing is forever.

Best wishes to you all.