This year I have learnt more about myself than I ever thought I would, surrounded by positive, inspiring people and diving into new situations and challenges.
I started this year unhappy. I may have not known that at the time, but on reflection I was never the best version of myself. I surrounded myself with people who didn't really believe in me or care about me, living every day just hoping there would be no unnecessary confrontation.
Something I haven't discussed on this blog is my struggle over the last few years with tackling my negative thoughts; take that how you will. Before I was 16 I had learnt what it was like to truly be manipulated and lied to, both by my best friend and by my first relationship. Although people may have just seen this as childish behaviour, devoting a year of time to someone, without considering your own personal issues is hard. To then realise you'd been taken advantage of and lied to is even more difficult, but despite my anger I tried to keep most of what happened to myself. I entered a state of anxiety with no trust in others or any feeling of self worth.
In the years that followed I gradually built that self confidence up; and moving into new friendship groups really helped. The last two years have had their ups and downs but I have learnt so much about the value of trust and that there really is some good people out there.
If I could replay this year I would, with everyone that was in it. I made it my New Years resolution to let go of the things that were making me unhappy. In some cases this was truly difficult to do, but I have no resentment or regret. I may only be 19 but I've been through a lot and learnt a lot, still learning new things every single day. I have learnt the power of forgiveness and how it enables you to both move forward and better your lives.
I couldn't have finished school surrounded by a better group of people. To everyone else we may have been loud, annoying or simply 'too much', but we had so much fun with no drama. Through those girls I realised the value in honesty and just saying what was on your mind. I may have not known every one of their life stories, but I didn't have to. We all laughed together and cried together, got drunk together and died outside the club together, and every second of it was truly worth it.
Two girls this year have made me the best version of myself by listening to my minuscule problems whilst telling me when I'm being absolutely ridiculous. Boys may come and go, but a good friend sticks next to you through everything.
The first taught me to remain optimistic, kind hearted and true to myself. Although we have completely opposing religious beliefs, we have had numerous thought provoking discussions which have enabled me to open my mind, bonding over the strangest of thoughts. It is rare that you meet someone and instantly realise they're a truly good person, but in the case of this girl, they make everyone around them happy by simply being in their company.
The second, somebody completely crazy and spontaneous who is always my eyes and ears when I need them. It is mad how in a year you can learn everything about someone and put all your trust in them - with ALL your secrets. This summer would not have been the same without them, 6 weeks where I made the best memories of my life and I'm sure we will make many many more.
I'm excited to enter the new year with my old friends and those people who have just entered my life, you know who you are. In a matter of months I've met a strong group of absolutely crazy people who I'm extremely excited to live with next year. That's not forgetting that special person who has thrown so much positivity and motivation into my life, making me laugh every single day.
So, this is a massive thank you. Tell 16 year old Ellie she'd feel like this 3 years later and she'd tell you to shut up. There is going to be new challenges which will be difficult, but also so exciting. For years you're at school stuck in the same pattern, but once you leave there's so much more you can do.
Say yes, take life by the hand and run.
I can't wait to watch what everyone does next year, it's going to be big!