Bethany Woodhead


On New Year's Eve 2018 I was in the midst of the happiest time of my entire life. I was halfway through a month and a half backpacking trip through Thailand and Malaysia, I had been reunited with my boyfriend who had been studying abroad, I’d worked damn hard all semester for the University newspaper, I’d lost a lot of weight, my grades were good and I was blissfully content.

If I close my eyes I can take myself back to this time last year – the heavy heat of South Asian sun on my neck, the salty taste of sand as huge waves washed over my head, the spicy smell of street food wafting through the air. Exactly one year ago today, almost to the minute, I was being covered in paint; long fluorescent swirls down my arms, a vine of festive flowers creeping up my leg and sporadic dots across my face, circling my eyes. The streets of Koh Phangan were alive, with thousands having flocked to the island for the famous Full Moon Party. We found a bar built from bamboo next to the beach, and the chilled out Rastafarian owner took much joy in letting us take over the music as he made us ridiculously strong bucket cocktails and midnight loomed ever closer. The beach was brimming with partygoers, dancing around huge, blazing fires, ready to bring in the new year. For hours we frolicked around on the beach, drinking and singing with hoarse voices until the countdown began. Ten… nine… eight… seven… I remember closing my eyes and making a wish that in the coming year I would be as happy as I felt at that very moment. Then the clock struck 12, a million fireworks lit up the sky with a shower of sparkles, and my boyfriend wrapped his arms around me and kissed me as we began 2019.

I guess wishes don’t come true, not that I ever thought they did. There was just something about my time in Thailand and Malaysia which gave me hope that this year would be different from all the rest. I remember feeling constantly like my heart was going to burst; burst with how much love I had for my boyfriend, burst with how grateful I was to be travelling around some of the most beautiful places on the planet, burst with how much motivation I had to make my parents proud and excel in university and at the hobbies I adore once I got home. I felt happy and healthy and hopeful.

This year, I’m spending New Year's alone in my hometown – a place I try to avoid even at the best of times. My parents are in France and my sister is doing what every 18-year-old would and is spending her night in a club. I’ve just spent the last hour Googling seafood pasta recipes; I’m even going to attempt to make the pasta completely from scratch! My plans for this evening consist of lighting some candles and soaking in the bath, remembering after 15 minutes that I don’t particularly like baths (I have them so hot that I embody a lobster being cooked, then I get too hot, and then I also feel like I’m stewing in my own problems); I’ll then proceed to take a shower to cool off and wash away the problems I’ve just spent ample time overthinking and put on the fresh pyjamas I made sure were washed and ready for my little solo date night tonight. I’ve already got a bottle of bubbly, some white wine and a full crate of beer chilling in the fridge and a selection of films by the TV (amongst my choices for this evening are Bridget Jones, Goodfellas, James Bond and Eat, Pray, Love – all are simultaneously very appropriate for me and my current state of mind).

Quite frankly, this year has worn me out. I’ve lost people I love and have exhausted myself trying so hard to fix things that are probably unfixable. It’s been another tiring year for politics, and I’ve spent many a sleepless night in the Glasgow Guardian office. So overall, I’m just mentally, physically and emotionally knackered. 

Despite the current pity party I appear to be hosting in this editorial, I’m not saying it’s all been bad. At the beginning of the year I was finishing off my backpacking adventure, I went on another backpacking trip to Vietnam and Cambodia a few months later, I went and saw my family in France in the summer, I saved up some money (*cough cough* drinking funds) by working full-time while also juggling uni and the paper (I was only getting three hours of sleep a night for months!) I lost weight again, I’ve been getting more opportunities within journalism which is super exciting, I’ve started to think about my dissertation topic and I have also found a group of girls who have restored my faith in female friendship groups and provided a solid circle of love and support through our combined chaos, personal crises and alcoholism.

It’s just strange to look back and see just how quickly life can flip on its head. This time last year I was finally truly, utterly, head-over-heels happy, which was so freeing and a huge relief after having spent so many years in a very dark place. And while this time things are different, I’ve got to have hope that if things can go south so quickly in just one year, surely the opposite can occur also. Maybe on 31 December 2020 I will once again be in a totally different place and things will be much better. So if you're reading this and feeling similarly tired and deflated, don't fret, life goes on, this is just a blip and we can get back to kicking ass and taking names next year.

While it may seem sad that I am bringing in the new year all alone, I’m going to see it as a positive projection of what’s to come. After all, tonight I’m doing things I really enjoy – I’m going to be spending hours cooking with a cold beer in my hand and a stack of good films to watch in front of a crackling fire and the glow of the Christmas tree. I don’t mind being alone – I often quite enjoy it. And this coming year I have a lot of thrilling times ahead of me; experiences and opportunities that are just mine and will take a lot of solo effort and determination. So perhaps it’s absolutely fitting that I begin 2020 like this, already in that mindset – that I can and will achieve and enjoy many amazing adventures on my own. I have a big heart and a hell of a lot to give, I just need to take a moment to reboot, recharge and heal - best done over a glass (read bottle) of good wine. See you on the other side.

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