twenty-sixteen in review and what it has taught me

I cannot believe an entire year has passed yet again -where is the time going?! Cue all of the “2016 in Review” blog posts and “2017 New Year Resolutions” as everyone begins to settle down and reflect on the past year. And I’m just about to jump on the bandwagon I’m afraid…


Twenty Sixteen.

Aside from all of the political horrors (can we pls not go there) along with many well-loved celebrities dying, 2016 has actually been a pretty damn good year for me if not the best year so far. Since I absolutely love making lists, here are my highlights:


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So, as you can see, 2016 was quite an incredible year for me. I spent the first six months continuing my Gap Year adventures, becoming more independent and creating some of the most amazing memories; memories of a lifetime. I then returned and started a brand new, though exciting, chapter of my life: university. And not just any university… I started at Oxford and I absolutely love it! 2016 has brought ups and downs with it but all in all, it’s been a good one.

Lessons learned in 2016

As well as being one of the best years, if not the best year of my life, 2016 also taught me a lot. Again, here’s my list of lessons I learned in 2016:

  1. Everything happens for a reason.
    As cliché as this sounds, this mantra really hit home this year. I had my iPhone stolen in China; I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and I lost a bunch of friends. Everything has worked out how it should because everything happens for a reason. I promise.
  2. Being alone and needing your own space is okay. But needing someone there is also okay.
    When I was travelling, I just had Alice. We both had each other and that was it. 90% of the time we loved it and it was great but there were times when we both felt suffocated with each other – and this is perfectly natural. You physically can’t spend every hour of every day with the same person, no matter how much you love them.  Needing space and taking time out for yourself is okay and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. Similarly, if you’re feeling down and need someone to be there for comfort and support, asking for help is also okay.
  3. Family really does come first. And friends really do come before boys.
    I’ve been through a lot this year and, at the end of the day, it’s your family who will always be there. When I found myself in a tricky situation regarding my Chinese visa whilst I was away, who did I turn to for advice? Who was there for me and supported me through my decisions? My family. My family have also been there this year while I’ve made mistakes and grown as a person and that’s what counts. I will always be there for them and they will always be there for me.
    Boys will always, always come and go… but your friends? They will be there for you through thick and thin {that’s if they’re not fake!} Don’t put that boy first over seeing your friend; don’t make decisions based on a crush when you could be putting more time and effort into your friendships!
  4. Burning bridges is one of the best things you could do. That, along with cutting negative and toxic people from your life.
    I’ve always been one of those girls who has a small group of friends rather than dozens and dozens but what this year has done is only reinforced why I’m this type of person. Quality over quantity any damn day. I would much rather have three true, real friends who believe in me and bring me up than have ten friends who talk badly behind my back and are never there. Make 2017 your year: cut ties with that person who only makes you feel like crap; say goodbye to that friend you’ve been friends with for years but who is never, ever there for you; burn bridges with that friend who only talks to you when they want something. Toxic people are damaging to your progress and wellbeing. Cut them out and you’ll feel tons better, I guarantee.
  5. When you notice that something isn’t right, stick with your gut feeling.
    If you come into a situation where you think something isn’t right, chances are you are right. Trust your instinct and gut feelings more. I did this past year and it paid off.
  6. I would much rather spend money on experiences than on materialistic things.
    I used to be a fairly materialistic person in the sense that I’d jump at buying new clothes or shoes I liked just because I had the money. Sometimes I’d never really think about the purchase properly and so I wasted my hard earned pennies. What 2016 has taught me is the true value of money and I would 100% rather spend money travelling than on a new pair of shoes or a new top. Wouldn’t you? I hope 2017 sees me spending money on such experiences – I want to cross off a further five four new countries before I’m 21!
  7. Just because they’re family, doesn’t mean you have to like them.
    This was something that was difficult for me to accept and process this past year. We’ve been brought up in a society where admitting you may not like certain family members is frowned upon and even shocking, but the reality is that as you grow older you may begin to realise that the people around you are people you don’t like. You may discover that they are people that you wouldn’t choose as your own friends, people you wouldn’t want to associate yourselves with if they weren’t part of your family. And I think that’s perfectly okay. Even if you realise that you don’t particularly like your parents, I don’t think it’s uncommon: you may see qualities in them that you just don’t like. Growing up teaches you these things and the sooner we accept them, the easier life will be.
  8. Your mum is always right.
    Do you remember all those arguments and battles you’ve had with your mum over something only to find out that you should have listened to her? Yep, I hate to break it to you but your mum is always right. Whether it’s about not spending money on such-and-such, not agreeing with you wanting to do something or talking about how you should’ve started studying aaages ago – your mum is right. And it’s taken me 2016 to fully realise this and take note on everything she has to say.
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These are the lessons 2016 has taught me and I personally think they’re invaluable.

So there we have it. Twenty-sixteen has been one amazing year filled with dozens of firsts, tons of exploring, many adventures and numerous sunsets and sunrises. It’s been a year of realisations, of fresh starts and of new chapters. I can’t wait for what 2017 has to bring and I can only bring in the year positively. Here’s to another incredible, even better year ahead filled with beautiful memories, genuine friendships, lots of hard work and *hopefully* much more travelling!

Keep an eye out for my 2017 Goals post in the New Year.

I hope you guys have an absolutely gorgeous New Year and that it’s filled with happiness and positivity. Thank you so, so much for all of your support – it truly means so, so much to me. Here’s to a fabulous 2017!

What has 2016 taught you? 

If you’re not following my adventures so far…

Instagram📷 & Twitter🐥 – @violahelen_
Snapchat👻 – violahelen

Peace and love,
Viola xo


20 years old | bit of a nerd | thoughts about life | travel, fitness, fashion + student blog |
Posts created 148

0 thoughts on “twenty-sixteen in review and what it has taught me

  1. Wow this is sooo well written I love it! And girl you are goals it looks like you’ve done so many wonderful things this year, I wish you a wonderful 2017!!! Also I’m about to go follow all your socials!

  2. Amazing post! I’m so happy you visited my home country in Australia 😀 I’m really hoping to study abroad next year and travel more in the future when I’ve saved up. You have set such a great example of the type of person I aspire to be. All the lessons you shared were so true and found them super helpful. Let’s make the most of 2017! xx Enyiie

    1. Thank you so much!! I absolutely love Australia – I’m definitely coming back at some point (hopefully very, very soon!) – your comment has literally made my day. It means so much for me to have inspired someone and to be a good example 🙈 – have a wonderful New Year xx

  3. Thanks ever so much for writing this wonderful post; I had to deal with toxic friends but I’ve learnt to cut them out whether people like it or not, it’s work in progress but due to kindness to myself 2016 has been the best year. Happy blogging, and an Awesome New Year!

  4. wow, this was incredible. thank you for always inspiring me and blessing me with your blog posts that always make my day. my 2016 highlight was honestly coming across you and all your platforms because i am in love with you and everything you do and say. i hope on one new year’s eve i can feel the same way you have about 2016 because everything you’ve accomplished is what i aspire to achieve. thank you once again for being your fine self.

    1. Rea I don’t even know where to begin – thank you so much for your kind words and for supporting my blog over the past couple of weeks. You have literally made my day with your comments; I’m so happy that I’ve inspired you and that my blog posts are being read and loved by someone! <3

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