As the year comes to a close, I normally enter a wave of reflection. I think it’s good to do that, it snaps you back into reality and allows you to evaluate everything in your life at that specific time. For me, this happens towards the end of the year, and I tend to think of how the year has treated me- what I have achieved, what I wish I had, what I’d change and where I want to be in exactly a year from now. To be completely honest, 2014 has been a weird one for me personally. So many things have changed, within the space of 4 months my life has completely turned upside down and inside out. I look back on how I was a year ago, and I wouldn’t recognise myself. I think when life throws you in at the deep end and tests you to your limit, you grow as a person, so this year has taught me a lot.

In the first minutes of 2014, I felt very optimistic about this year. I was determined to make it count. I told myself I’d get to university and study something that I am truly passionate about. That’s exactly what I’ve done and for the first time in my whole life, I actually feel proud of myself. I feel like i’m doing the right thing, and if I do it well, I can achieve what I want. Some people might think that sounds a bit cocky, but it’s not, there is nothing wrong with a bit of ambition, because without it- what’s the point in being here? You only get one shot, so you might as well take some risks and put yourself out there, rather than let life pass you by and wonder why you never achieved. That is one thing 2014 has taught me, to take risks and work as hard as your mind and body allows you.

This summer I met some amazing people, they broadened my perceptions on things even more and opened my mind to different views and opinions. Meeting new people is one reason why I want to travel more next summer. I think it’s amazing how you can learn so much from someone you’ve just met and probably won’t ever see again, but you still think about a point or opinion they made, or share their story on to someone else. Life is one big game of chinese whispers if you think about it- just elaborated theories and opinions. 

When I returned from travelling around Croatia and Venice, my life changed forever in a way I never thought it would. It’s hard to put into words when something so horrendous happens to you and your family, because you just can’t begin to understand what it feels like, but I will do my best to explain. Sadly, the most amazing person in my life passed away causing my life to change forever. My wonderful dad suffered badly from mental illness, and finally it took over. My dad was my everything, my world, my rock and my hero. He is my inspiration and is the reason why I’m so determined.There isn’t a second that goes by when I don’t think of him, but I can still feel him here with me. I know it was his time and that he is in a better place now. To some that may sound odd, but you just can’t explain it unless you have been there. 

I can remember that day so clearly. I felt as though someone had ripped my heart right out as I entered a state of complete disbelief. For a couple of minutes I felt my heart crumble and stop, I know that sounds ridiculous but it’s true. Everything stopped. The world was suddenly unfair and evil. My mind started firing questions, but received no answers. I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that i’d never see my best friend again. This thought haunts me everyday, but I find great comfort in remembering the amazing childhood he gave me, even though our time was cut short. He was the greatest person I’ve met, and always will be. When I think of a future without him, it breaks my heart in two. But that’s the thing about life, you can’t plan any it. You can to a certain degree, but when something like this happens, you are truly put to the test and you can either give up and get lost in grief, or live your life for them- this is exactly what I intend to do. 

One thing I swear to live by is my dads last message to me, to find happiness. I have a tattoo to remind myself to complete his final wish on the inside of my forearm, which reminds me of the amazing adventures we have and memories that I will cherish forever. My dad was a very happy impulsive soul, who constantly looked for adventure. Whenever something scared me he’d ask ‘so you’re going to let the temporary feeling of fear beat you?’ or ‘Come on sunshine, you’re so much more than that!’ he’d always say. This mindset has led to many great things, cliff diving, climbing mountains, swimming with sharks, parachuting, scuba diving… the list is endless, and I have my dad to thank for all of this and my attitude towards life. 

If someone told me a couple of months after the loss of my dad I’d move to university and start a different life, I think I’d laugh and say ‘that sort of thing doesn’t happen to me.’ I couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve found an inner strength I never in a million years thought I was capable of possessing. I’ve found out who the real people who are there for you when it matters, and the users. I feel cleansed in a way, like this has woken me up to real life, and made me even more determined than I ever thought I could be. It’s given me an extra strength, which is odd because I feel as though a massive part of me is missing. I intend to do everything dad wanted, and to make him so proud.

But, as hard as it is to come to terms with, life does inevitably go on. This loss has changed my whole life, and I don’t think I will ever get over it. I have learned and continue to learn from it. It’s made me appreciate everything so much more, especially my mum. She is an amazing person, her strength continues to astonish me everyday. My mum is my rock and inspiration and I couldn’t be where I am right now without her. I want to make her proud, and be able to eventually give her something back for everything she’s done for me and the family. My dad adored my mum, and did till the very end. They both inspire me greatly.

The thing that gets me the most is how little is known about the illness my dad suffered from, depression. It completely sickens me how it’s taken the case of Robin Williams, and his suicide case, to wake people up and realise that it is an illness, not just an attempt to win some sympathy and attention. I hope in a few months to carry out some work for MIND, a mental health charity, to help to research depression more, because if there was, my dad might still be here today.

This then brings me to right here, right now. I’m currently in my uni room surrounded by books, notes and deadlines, but I felt the need to post in my blog, as there was a few things I needed to get out. A few people will wonder why I write about my dad on here, and argue whether if it’s a bit too personal for a blog. Honestly, I just want people to know how incredible my dad was and how much I miss him. It breaks my heart he’s not here to see me graduate, travel the world, hear my stories or walk me down the aisle, but to me, he is always here. Although our time together was cut short, he is and always will be the most influential person in my life, and I would do anything just to have five more minutes with him and to hear his voice one last time. I love him more than mere words can say and miss him with every inch of my being. He taught me that life is for living, and thats exactly what I’m going to do, all for him. 

My inspiration and hero xx
My inspiration and hero, always. 

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