I don’t know about you but 2018 has been a rollercoaster of emotions, adventures, exciting new projects and personal growth. I am so ready for 2019.
I am sitting in Belgrade airport waiting to board my plane to go to my home country, France, for the holidays. I know I am coming back soon but I cannot shake off a feeling of things ending. While the plane speeds and finally takes off, I look at Belgrade still covered by a thick blanket of snow, quickly shrinking below.
Just a few nights ago, I was standing by the bar in Polet with my friend Mandy. The last Sofar sound concert of the year had just ended and people were lingering, enjoying a warm atmosphere in the middle of a cold night. “Can you believe all this has happened in just a year?”, we both asked each other, half laughing. It seems unreal.
In the midst of the airport’s relentless activity, I try to focus and contemplate all that has happened in the past twelve months. The world is quite a mess and we all have many reasons to worry about what’s to come. I move my shoulders, stretch my neck. I feel a remaining stiffness in my right ankle. My body bears the consequences of the physical and psychological challenges I have faced lately.
I started 2018 with stress fractures on my feet and a car accident. I almost got run over by a man looking behind his shoulder while driving in a curve a few nights ago. I broke my ankle in March. Right in front of the bus station, twenty minutes before catching my ride to Sarajevo where I was planning on meeting a friend I hadn’t seen in years and working on an article I was very passionate about. Then I lost yet another battle with the French administration. I felt I had hit rock bottom. I spent a good part of the year feeling constantly worried. Many times, I woke up feeling like I’d love nothing more than to go back to sleep with the cat and pretend the world doesn’t exist.
2018 was not so bad
The journey to my hometown in France is always a marathon between cities, friends and professional acquaintances. It’s exhausting but also exhilarating to talk with people who have known you for so many years and see you evolve. Reflecting now, by myself and through conversations with them, this year has not been so bad. And it’s not the many chocolates I’ve stuffed myself with talking.
2018 might have been hard on me at times but that’s because I have allowed challenges in my life. I wrote stories and opinion pieces on new topics. I showed off my skills assisting French television several times for stories in the region I am covering as a press correspondent. I wrote about topics I am passionate about. I overcame anxiety, became more confident, strengthened friendships and met many inspiring people. I kept working on improving the Girl Gone International community in Belgrade as a co-community manager. Many rewarding, positive results have come out of my efforts.
Launching Happy Wanderess is one of my biggest achievements. I have toyed with the idea of writing about my travels ever since I have left France. It took me some time to figure it out in my head, but I was inspired by some brilliant friends, like inspiring travellers Jasmine (on a Journey) and Loredana
Ready for 2019
I’m sitting at my old desk at my parents’ home with a hot cup of tea. There is a pile of feminist books and travel journals I’ve finished reading and another, much bigger, I’m planning on taking home with me. Pieces of papers with ideas for articles and travel posts are scattered everywhere. I’m starting 2019 full of ideas and projects. I can’t wait to see where Happy Wanderess takes me and how I am going to make my career evolve. For the first time, I am planning trips far away, thinking of Thaïland and Iran.
I’ve never felt so confident. 2019 is about to start and I am feeling grateful for what I have, hopeful for what I want to achieve and at peace with myself. I’m going back to Belgrade in a few days filled with excitement. And a bit of fear. It’s hard to shut off the little voice in your head that keeps on worrying and telling you “you can’t do it”. And that’s okay. We all worry. As long as we keep our focus on what matters. What deserves our time and energy. And who.
In her book “Sur les chemins de Chine” (“On the paths of China”), Clara Arnaud roams across Western China and Tibet by foot, accompanied with only two horses and an undefinable feeling that she needs to be there and to follow her inspiration. She thinks about what it means to travel and how the way you travel matters. She observes and writes in her journal. When she is almost ready to leave, she realizes: “This journey is so young, like me, and it is far away from wisdom, still so far away”.
So is mine. Bring it on, 2019.