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Now I'm 29

Pinstripe jumpsuit

And so I enter the last year of my 20s.

28 was the most difficult year of my life. There's no gentle way of describing the shitstorm that has ensued over the last 365 days, and I also don't want to dwell on it, but from September 2017 to now, I had to battle a lot. A diagnosis of anxiety and my first experience of panic attacks and therapy (the latter, by the way, I cannot recommend enough because just talking to somebody impartial is so cleansing); crippling self-doubt and lack of confidence brought on by a mentally-destructive relationship finally coming to an end; and, worst of all, losing my dad unexpectedly just over three months ago.

I don't want to talk about these things in detail. Not because I'm ashamed or in denial, but because writing about them here isn't how I've learnt to live with them. There's plenty of hard work that I've put in away from the internet, along with the unwavering support of family and friends that continues to help me every single day, but really, I feel like 29 is going to be an exciting year for me.

Over the last year, I've seen two of my best friends get married, one of them has had twins, and another two are pregnant. Multiple others have got engaged and bought houses, whilst others have broken up long-term relationships and/or moved to other countries. Everybody is making changes, and as cliche as it sounds, I've learnt SO much about myself in the last year, from all of their experiences as well as my own.

I understand what I'm willing to put up with and what I deserve in relationships, friendships and in my career. I still know that travelling the world fills me with so much joy, but I know that I don't have to go alone - instead, I can just choose to if I fancy it. But along with engagement and pregnancy announcements everywhere, I'm also bombarded with people telling me that they DON'T want those things, and for a while, I felt bad for being single and not wanting to be.

I realised through time alone, various online dating exploits, and just being honest with myself, that it's OK for me to want to get married one day and have children. I'm not failing feminism or being overly dependent on somebody. In fact, dating for the first time in almost eight years allowed me to be brutally truthful about what I do and don't want, as well as understanding my own worth. Turning people down and being turned down myself was a well-needed lesson in just getting to know myself and it meant that when I met an incredible man, the feeling of 'Ooooo maybe this is a bit too soon' pretty quickly gave way to 'Hell yes, I deserve him and he deserves me!'. I don't give a shit about standard timelines or what everyone else is doing because my god, I have never felt so incredibly loved.

And really, if we're going to get super soppy, 28 has been a year of knowing wholeheartedly that I am SO loved. From my housemates who listened to me rant after every shit date, my beautiful Bangarang girls who spoiled me with a Lush spa treatment when I got back from Jamaica, my unbelievable family who dropped everything in order to support me every single time I needed them, my best friends, whether at home or abroad, who called me every day when I was at my lowest, and my boyfriend who, despite only meeting me in January, understands exactly what I need 24/7 (insider fact: it's mainly hugs and double raspberry Magnums).

Tomorrow I'm flying to Hong Kong to meet my best friend's twin baby girls for the first time, before jetting off to Japan a few days later. Those squidgy, little bubs signify so much exciting change and hope, and I'm already so in love with them. They, along with everything over the last year, just go some way to making me who I am and I'm genuinely hopeful about what 29 might bring.

What I'm wearing as a super grown-up, sassy 29 year old

Pinstripe jumpsuit
Pinstripe jumpsuit - Look of the Day* / Trainers - Look of the Day*

The Fastest City Zip Wire in the World at Zip World London

The Fastest City Zip Wire in the World at Zip World London

When I was told there was a birthday surprise in store for me, but that before going, I'd have to sign a waiver, my brain went into meltdown. Waivers mean 'dangerous', right? What could I be doing?! I'd been on the world's biggest swing in New Zealand, so began to think that my boyfriend had planned something similar and convinced myself I'd be heading up the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide in Stratford.

Six Awesome Photography Tricks I Learnt on a Photo Walk With Jessops

Two people taking photographs

I've owned my precious little Olympus Pen E-L7 for almost two years now. I did the ultimate blogger cliche of purchasing a 45mm lens last year, and as an early birthday treat for 2017, I've nabbed myself a 25mm lens too. I read up on photography tips online, quiz professionals (two of my best mates happen to be married to photographers), and just test and learn as I go, and I feel like my pictures really are improving.

A Distressing Visit to Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

Fresco at Rila Monastery

I've started thinking bigger when it comes to city breaks. After a successful trip to Vianden Castle from Luxembourg City, and regretting not making it to Transylvania when in Bucharest, I did my research before going to Sofia and the internet was united screaming the words RILA MONASTERY my way.

Why I Love Using Guide Books to Plan My Trips

Collection of travel guide books

Back in February 2014, I was excitedly preparing for my first trip to Australia. I was working there for a few weeks, followed by a trip to Hong Kong on my way home, and in anticipation, I bought a couple of guide books. Flipping through them at my desk, a colleague leant over, took a look at them and said, 'Guide books? That's very....analogue of you.'

How to Spend a Day in Bath, Somerset

Umbrella Street installation, Bath

Let me just start by saying that the way to spend a day in Bath is by booking the correct train tickets, so that you don't have to depart London at 6am like I did. On the plus side, it meant we arrived before the crowds did, but also meant that by about 4pm we were so tired, we had to go and have a nap in our hotel in a nearby town.
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review