It is strange to think how much can happen in a year.
I wasn’t sure whether to write this post or not, seeing as 2017 has not been an entirely easy or straightforward year for me. But I do really want to approach the people who follow along on what’s going on with me and Egalia in an authentic way, so I thought I’d just go for it and tell you a bit more about myself, warts and all.
This is me and my brother at the start of the year. I’m wearing a hat because I had been watching a lot of Downton Abbey and that’s what it culminated in. I wasn’t up to much else. I had recently moved back home to Norway and my parents after my struggles with mental health became too much for me to handle on my own in London. I had had to leave my amazing job at a literary agency, my lovely coworkers, my truly wonderful friends, my flat, and the whole life I had worked so hard to build. I wasn’t in a very good place, and I spent a few weeks creating a deep connection with Netflix at home.
There were a lot of good things going on around me, my family was being incredibly supportive, as were my friends back at home, and even though I didn’t realise it, I was starting to connect with a lot of new interests which would turn in to so much substance over the next year.
Looking back at those months, I now see them for what they were: a sanctuary in which I could recover and reconnect with the parts of me that I had lost along the way. There was no pressure, I had no financial obligations, everyone else were taking care of the practicalities in my life, and I was able to rest up. At the time though, I wasn’t seeing things this way, and was feeling very frustrated and ashamed because of how my life had turned out. I genuinely thought that I had “lost” at life, and would never again be the kind of person that I wanted to be.
This is a bit of a gloomy picture, but I am very fond of it anyway, as it is taken on the evening in which I first picked up my parents DSLR and went out to do some photographing. After that I carried the camera around with me everywhere, exploring the settings and angles and finally creating something again. It was really powerful, and it meant a lot to me.
I was reunited with London twice in April and May, and it felt so good to get back to my favourite city and realise that it was all still there even though I was taking some time away from it. I spent time with friends and family, going on adventures and soaking up the city. I also went around photographing all the mundane spaces which were special to me, and I’m very glad I have those pictures to look back on now.
Also around that time I went to Germany to see my very good friend, V. It was such a lovely time hanging out with her, wandering the castle grounds near her house, sitting for hours in cafés and restaurants, talking and talking and talking. We then went to her small but big castle (don’t ask!) in the countryside and spent a weekend there with some of her friends. It was the first time in a long time that I was socialising with new people, and I felt very rusty, but had a nice time anyway.
This was my second trip to London, with some of my lovely friends, during an evening in which they assured me they would still be there no matter how long I was away from London. I love them. The next day I did not fly back home to Bergen, the city I had grown up in and had been living in for the past few months, but to Alvdal, a teeny tiny town on the other side of the country, which my parents were moving to and in which I had a job interview for a position as a librarian. It was a quiet job in a quiet town, and a good way in which to reenter the working world.
During the quiet few months I had spent doing nothing, I had been reading a lot of blogs, and thinking about all the blogs I had wanted to create over the years, but never got around to. I thought they were such beautiful creations, telling stories and opening up little windows into other people’s lives. And finally, I made one of my own, merging my photography, love of reading and experiences from the world of publishing, into one white little space on the web.
Summer became autumn, and I worked steadily on as a librarian, while my endeavours as a blogger gave me more and more thoughts and ideas for what I actually wanted to do with my life. I realised that I didn’t actually want to go back to the hectic and frantic way of life which I had loved so much in London, but rather to build up a more sustainable life for myself, one in which my health and friends and family came first, and my work was adjusted around those things, rather than the other way around. I also realised that I wanted to create my own work, and set my own goals and work with my own ideas.
And so I found Egalia. I took all the things I most wanted to do, the values I wanted to work with and the means of creation which I found appealing, and I got started on setting up my own publishing imprint with which I could bring the ideas that I felt most passionate about out into the world. It felt incredible to be working in this way, completely within my own agenda, and I really enjoyed becoming that passionate about something again.
In September and October, my incredibly supportive boss at the library managed to work some magic on our work schedules, and I got to spend four weeks in Oslo starting a course in book-selling and publishing. I was thrown into a new environment, met so many new people and was faced with a whole bunch of academic challenges (I still don’t know how on earth I’m going to pass my economics exam next May). It was a month of pushing my boundaries, but also adopting a new way of reacting to a lot of social stimulation, which was to not give in to FOMO but rather going home early and missing out on pub trips in order to keep my health in check. Sure, I missed out on a lot, and it wasn’t always easy when all I wanted to do was to spend time with all the lovely new people in my class, but it enabled me to stay on track during the whole month, which for me was a big win.
Not going to the pub wasn’t all bad though, because instead I spent a lot of time with aunts, uncles and cousins. Most of my extended family live in Oslo, and I was staying with them during my time there, and I had such a nice time hanging out with all of them. Both my immediate and extended family are very dear to me, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have them. I know that it is not a given for people to have a close-knit family, so I feel very grateful for mine.
And the best thing about September: we got a new little member of the family! My sister gave birth to an adorable little baby boy, making her first son a big brother, and I became an aunt again. I flew in to Bergen during two of the weekends from my time in Oslo, and I’m so glad I did because they were very special little trips for me.
After returning to Alvdal again at the end of October, I really got started on working with Egalia during my evenings and weekends. Winter arrives early here, with 20 degrees minus, and I have felt cockooned away inside, either in the quiet library or else at home in our warm house, with big, comfy jumpers, endless cups of coffee and a lot of ideas for Egalia. There had been a lot of “behind the scenes” work so far, setting everything up, getting in touch with people, negotiating contracts, working through logistics and admin, but I feel like I am definitely on the right track, and can’t wait for next year when I can start telling you guys about all the things coming your way. My dad has been such a big help, both very literally with all the legal, economic, and administrative issues, but also as a cheerleader.
I had my last day at the library on the 23rd (it was always just a six month contract, covering for someone else), and went on to have the best Christmas I can remember having in years. My brother and sister and my sister’s family all came to Alvdal to spend the holidays with us, and we’ve had such a nice time here, filled with the two most amazing little boys, lots of nice food, boardgames, Christmas movies, a new kitten and snow falling outside. My family have given me so much love and support, and helped me through the most difficult time of my life in the last year and a bit, and it felt so good to finally be with them as a happy person again.
And now, here we are at the brink of the new year. I’m feeling very optimistic about what’s ahead, and so excited to see what the new year will bring. It’s pretty scary, because once my savings run out I will be completely reliant on making money come in from Egalia, but I’ll give it my best shot and hope for the best. I have so many plans and ideas for the next few months, and I can’t wait to start setting them all in motion this week. Mostly though, I am looking forward to all the good times that lie ahead with the people that I care about, because if I have learned anything, it is that the point of it all is them, and the love we have for each other.
Now I’m off to celebrate the New Year with my mum, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin and grandmother, and feel very happy to be here with them.
Happy New Year, and see you on the other side! xxx