This is a still from the film The Red Balloon / Le Ballon Rouge, by Albert Lamorisse (1956) - which I love and which feels very appropriate right now.

Today I turn 25.

I have almost too many thoughts to even write down.

It seems only yesterday that I was 18, going out to clubs and bars, getting dressed up with my friends for 'pre-drinks'.

I don't know where the time has gone. But also so much has changed.

A few days ago I stumbled across some e-mail-essay exchanges I had around 2013, and the words I had written felt like they were coming from a different person altogether. I am a better version of myself now, and am glad that I have grown. But I feel I have also grown more in the last few weeks than, perhaps, I have in the last year.

Over the four years or so since Maastricht, I think I forgot the importance of friendship and how amazing it can be.
I put my focus on studies, on romance, and on hard work / career. Friends were something for convenience, and not my priority.

I think I probably didn't invest in friendships properly, perhaps because in Maastricht (2011-13) so many people came in and out of my life so fast. As is the nature of international schools/universities. Some of my best friends left after I was there for only a few months - as they were exchange, or quit uni, or moved uni, or they were third year friends that I had made in my first year. Then new people arrive, you become friends with them, then they leave again. It begins to toughen you up, or make your guard a little more robust. Even maintaining friendships with those who stayed and who were in the same year cohort as me, was difficult. Many went on exchange for a semester to another country too. By the time I left, I felt I already knew who my 'best friends' were, even if the relationships were fragmented or across seas and borders. I had found deep intense friendships with people from all over the world, and nothing would be the same, or quite measure up.

When I came back home to Edinburgh at the very end of 2013, I didn't take time to reinvest in my Edinburgh friendships, and nor did I really make enough effort to keep a "long distance" friendship with my Maastricht friends. I had other things on my mind.

By the time I moved to (just outside) London in September 2014, I was resigned to the "fact" that I would not make friends there, and that I was just there to get a qualification and work experience. I went into central London alot (often on my own to go to events or art galleries), didn't make a real effort to go out with people from university, kept myself to myself. I wasn't very open or 'real' with many people (if any); and was a crappy, studious, serious and cold version of myself.  It turns out this wasn't the best strategy. Everybody needs people. And I am a warm, social person really.

I still feel that my "real people" are my Maastricht people. But what I really mean by this is that I love being around people from different parts of the world, who are interested in talking about politics, society, languages etc, but also like to have dinner and wine together in each-others houses. (Not just the hard-core drinking culture which I found in the UK.) I also think that being abroad allowed me the freedom to be myself. I am still not exactly sure what it freed me from, but I still have the issue that I am the best version of me when I am not in the UK, or when I am in international groups of people.

London is not really my place, but many people I know and care about are there.

I am saying all this because this year is a strange one. I am going to have to make decisions about my future, and where I want to be - but also about how I want to handle myself in the next chapter.

After September 2017, I don't know what the future holds for me - but I am going to seize it with both hands and see what happens.


25 is going to be the year of Catriona being sociable - making new friends, nurturing old friendships, making up to people who I might have lost the friendship of (if possible). 

It is also going to be the year of travel, and being scared, but trying new things anyway. 

I plan on getting fit - going running and getting back into dancing again. 

Also building my confidence, becoming more sure about who I am and that I have something valuable to offer the world. 

I want to read more, try new foods / recipes, and listen to music again. 

This year I am going to reignite my love for living, and get excited about the various projects I do.

25 is going to be my year.  


Today I received some of the most lovely and thoughtful gifts, and had the best crab Ravioli ever at Contini in Edinburgh (as well as my absolute favourites: Aperol Spritz and Affogato - but this time it was an Affogato with strawberry liqueur!) I got a cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi which I have been after for ages (it's called Nopi), a cushion with a camera on it, an absolutely gorgeous dress from my sister, as well as money and chocolate from various relatives (oh and meercat-shaped jelly sweets!).

Here's to the next 25.

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