This time last year I was battling a hangover after welcoming in the New Year as a skint, single and jobless 30 year old at a local pub with my dad. Since moving back from France to live in England I felt like I’d failed this whole adulating lark and remember looking around with jealousy at those who seemed to have everything figured out. I most certainly did not.
My dad had generously offered a small loan so I could go to the Philippines for three months to write my third novel, get my head together and come up with a life plan. He was adamant that I’d pay him back with the royalties from my debut, Destination Thailand, but I’d scoffed that it was an e-book in a sea of e-books so he shouldn’t be counting on it. Little did I know just two weeks after that conversation, as I was about to board the long flight alone, my story was shared with the world, ‘the Backpacking Bridget Jones’ was born and the rest is history.
In what quickly became a rollercoaster of a year I’ve travelled to 11 different countries including a solo trip to Australia where I climbed the Harbour Bridge, stroked a koala and went surfing. I’ve hunted for Nessie in Loch Ness, got drunk in the Caribbean with LFC legend Ian Rush, discovered an abandoned ghost town in Cyprus, held the Olympic Torch, kissed the Blarney Stone on a dad and daughter road trip to Ireland and found bliss in Bali.
I’ve bagged myself an agent, had three novels published and three audio books released, signed another three book deal, had two book launches, made global news and been on Australian, English and Irish TV (including appearing live on This Morning!), I’ve found out my books are going to be translated into 11 different languages and welcomed members of the Real Life Lonely Hearts Travel Club.
I’ve been a bridesmaid for my best friend, gained a sister-in-law, found an amazing man, moved house, fallen in love and sold my wedding dress for charity. This blog was shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan Best In Social Media, making the top ten and I ticked off my first public speaking travel event with Intrepid.
I’ve made some awesome new friends online and in real life, as well as letting go a few from my past. I’ve also learnt more about myself and my inner strength than I ever thought possible, especially when I needed to grow a thick skin overnight #neverfeedthetrolls.
I feel overwhelmed just writing it down. I honestly can’t believe this has all happened to me in just 12 months! It’s like I’m reading about someone else’s life.
Since the most bizarre four days of my life when I was in a hotel room in Cebu fielding calls from all over the world, finding out my book had made the top ten on Amazon and was going to be published in paperback, things haven’t really slowed down and I haven’t for a second wanted them to. I was determined to make the most of every opportunity that came my way knowing how lucky I was to have this moment.
The feedback and support from all over the world has been insane and allowed me to travel more with my blog and live my dream of being a proper writer and I cannot thank you enough! Everyone who has bought, read, shared, or reviewed any of my books, YOU have helped in giving me the best year of my life.
I still feel emosh thinking back to the heartbroken girl, dumped before her big fancy wedding, feeling like her whole world had ended. If only I could go back in time, wrap her in my arms and tell her that everything is going to be okay. Everything is going to be SO MUCH MORE than okay.
I’d make sure she knew that all she had to do was pick herself up, fix on a smile and believe that something good would come of this nightmare situation. That thanks to her courage in quitting her job, buying that one way solo ticket and starting this blog she would one day be thanking her ex for what he did. That by having the determination to write the story burning inside of her and not giving up when the rejection letters rolled in, would mean that four years later this horrible pain would be replaced with pride. Pride at what she had achieved by not letting this heartbreak beat her.
I feel like I’ve had a smile fixed rigidly on my face for the past twelve months. This overwhelming sense of gratitude at the places I’ve been, the things I’ve done and the people I’ve met is almost too much which is why I wanted to document it all here as proof that it really did happen!
Work hard, be creative, look after yourself and spread the love to those tireless cheerleaders who never stop believing in you as I’ll never forget the faith and love from others who believed I was good enough when I doubted myself.
Bring on 2017. I have a feeling it’s going to be just as memorable …