Wednesday, 5 November 2014

List (an update)

So now that I have (un)officially extended the Year31Project indefinitely. Here is an update to the Year31Project list.

Here is a list of the firsts I achieved during my first year:

jellied eels / kangaroo / caterpillar 
travelling alone
roller disco
internet dating
short film
fix a puncture
air guitar
(indoor) skydive
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
shave my head

Maybe I could have done better? But on a budget of zero, I think it's not too bad?

But onwards and upwards. Let's forget about the past and look to the future. Here is a - fairly short and hopefully achievable - list of firsts that I hope to complete over the coming year:

travel outside of Europe
visit Cardiff (my capital city)
get something published/produced
compete in an outdoor swimming event
learn a language
learn a martial art
ride a horse
bungee jump

It is kind of on the short side of things - I  accidentally made it ten items long - but it really is quite a challenging list (don't you think?). Follow the blog to see how many I can complete. I'm sure there will also be plenty of other mini adventures to write about too. Including two that - with a little bit of luck - should be completed by the end of this week.

On top of the list I am also starting a new travel blog called 'Around the World in 80 Mugs'. For the last few years I have been the mug who collects mugs from all of the places he visits and now I want to see if I can collect 80 mugs before my current passport runs out in August 2020. Do you think I can do it? You'll have to keep your eyes open for further details and then follow the new blog to find out how I get on. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

And so it ends

Today is my 31st birthday.
Which means that it is a full year to the day since the start of this project and the first blog post which you can read here.

That's it, the end of my project. So I guess it's time to evaluate.

How did I get on? Did I achieve what I set out to?

I suppose there are several ways to assess this project. One way is to look at the original list and see how many I can tick off.

travel on my own
travel outside of Europe
scuba diving
horse riding
tarot reading
learn sign language
spend a day in a wheelchair
eat insects
shave my head
get a piercing
Pamplona bull run
rock climbing
bungee jump
sky dive

ok, so looking at it in this way I haven't really done too well now have I? No!

So instead let's have a look at the things that I did do. The things that might not have been on the original list but firsts that I have achieved over the past 12 months. Maybe if we do that the project will start to look like more of a success?

So in summary here are the things that I did.
(click on the blue links to go to the original posts and find out more.)

I started off on my mad adventure with possibly(?) the maddest blog of them all. On the morning of the 5th of November 2013, the day after my 30th birthday and a day that would have been mine and my ex-girlfriend's 4th anniversary - had we not gone through a horrendous (at least for me) breakup 6 months earlier - I travelled the length of London on two night buses to do this:

Read more about my badly thought out attempt at a romantic gesture and my first ever attempt at Graffiti and also be sure to read about what happened to my "art" next here.

After my great Graffiti adventure I tried the London delicacy that is Jellied Eels for both the first and the last time!

I travelled on my own for the first time when I went to Berlin for a few days last December:

I went to my first ever roller disco which was a lot of fun, especially considering that rollerskating is definitely not my forte.

I started indoor climbing or bouldering which I have completely fallen in love with. I hope to do some outdoor bouldering for the first time next summer.

I semi-successfully attempted the "teenage rights of passage" that is shoplifting.

I went to my first ever "protest".

I celebrated becoming a qualified swimming teacher by eating Kangaroo meat for the first time. & let me tell you that it is so sweet and juicy and upon touching my lips it instantly became my new favourite meat. If you see it on the menu don't hesitate to order it. It's soooo good!

Back in April I attempted to write a poem a day for a whole month. See how I got on and read some of my poems in my post about NaPoWriMo.

A few months ago I gave Internet Dating a try. It was interesting but wasn't exactly a triumph. I went on one date and gave a good enough impression of myself that there wasn't a second haha. Maybe I'll give it a another try at some point, who knows?

Next came Hitchhiking which was certainly more of a victory. I hitchhiked all the way from Walthamstow to Chester and had a great time doing so.

 I fixed a puncture on my bike.

I tried my hand at Air Guitar when I entered myself into the Air Guitar UK Championships. What a wonderful night that was! I met lots of wonderfully eccentric people who were extremely passionate about air guitar and I am officially the 8th best air guitarist in the UK! haha which is ridiculous - especially if you watch the video of me in action.

I had a top day in Bedford with my great friend Sophia where we went to Bodyflight Bedford to do an indoor skydive. The real thing was a little bit too expensive - unless you do it for charity - but I'm really hoping to do one this coming year.

After accidentally cooking a Caterpillar I can add insects to the list of weird things I've eaten alongside Jellied Eels and Kangaroo.

I joined in with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge when I was on holiday during the summer.

And 16 years after I first said I was going to do it, I finally shaved my head. I'm currently waiting impatiently for it grow back haha.

What do you reckon? Not too shabby, right? It's definitely not a year I'm about to forget in a hurry! And on top of all of the firsts above there were three very special firsts that I really wanted to achieve above all else.

1. Make a short film.

This was such an amazing experience! I have dreamt of making films ever since I was a teenager and here I was making my first short film. It felt amazing hearing actors read my words and I am extremely happy with the end result. I think it's pretty good for a first attempt (even if I say so myself). Now of course I couldn't have done it without the help of so many wonderful, dedicated and talented people. So thank you to everyone involved! You know who you are. But... I MADE A FILM!

2. Take a show to Edinburgh

I had been to Edinburgh during the Festival Fringe once before but not as a performer and had vowed that I would be back one day with my own show. This was another absolutely amazing adventure. I had such a fantastic time in Edinburgh, performing, watching lots of great shows and meeting so many warm and wonderful people. I hope to do it all again next year... only bigger and better of course.

3. Swim the channel

Sadly although this was top of the list. My life long dream and the one thing I wanted to do more than anything else in the world. Unfortunately it just wasn't possible. Not this year but hopefully in the future :(

Looking at the firsts that I achieved is one good way to look at the project, however another way to evaluate this project is to look at the people that I have met along the way. This wasn't only about doing things, it was also about getting out of the house and meeting new people. & meeting people is definitely something that I did. Whether it was the fantastic Lea for gave me somewhere to stay in Berlin, all of the marvellous people I met during my brief spell in Edinburgh (and there were many!), the passionate people at the air guitar or the six beautiful souls who gave me lifts during my day of hitchhiking. I have met some truly generous and wonderful people on every step of my Year31Project journey!

And finally and maybe the most important way to decide whether this project has been a success or a failure: how has the project inspired myself and others?

Now I don't know if or how this project has inspired others? Maybe those of you reading it can let me know. Maybe it has inspired you to do something new? That thing that you have always wanted to? Or maybe you have been inspired to go back to a passion that you had long since abandoned? I would like to thing so and I would love to hear from you if it has.

However, what I can tell you for sure is just how much it has helped to inspire myself. In August 2013 I was depressed, had little energy and no motivation. I was living temporarily back at home with my parents, I had no job and spent the majority of my days in bed streaming American series. It was a dark time. In August 2014 I was onstage in Edinburgh - telling people how depressed I was in August 2013 - having taken a show up to the Festival Fringe for the first time. I was living back in London, had a new job that I loved working as a swimming teacher and in the previous few months I had done lots of cool things and met lots of lovely people. I had also made several good friends and was feeling a whole lot more positive about the world general. So if that's not a success story then I don't know what is!!! And although I can't claim that this was all down to the Year31Project, it has certainly brought a lot of joy to my life and has often given me a reason to get out of bed of a (late) morning.

So that's it, the end of my project. Or is it? In one sense it is end. I set out to do as many new things as I possibly could in a year and that year is over. I did a number of things and although I feel like there are a lot more things that I could and maybe should have achieved, I also believe the project was fairly successful.

However, as successful as it might have been, there are still so many things that I have never done. Plus doing something for the first time is so much fun and so why would I want to stop now? I have therefore decided that - even though I might blog about doing something new (even) less frequently - I will unofficial prolong the project indefinitely and so as long as there is air in my lungs, I will continue to attempt new and exciting things for the first time at every opportunity. So watch this space for more updates - I'm already working on some as you read - and on top of that I will also be starting a new travel blog which will be called 'Around the World in 80 Mugs' very soon. So keep your eyes peeled for that!

But for now it's my birthday and so I'm off to the Natural History Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 exhibition and then after work I'm going to treat myself to a nice unhealthy takeaway (probably a kebab but I haven't decided for sure yet).

Also as a little treat to say thank you to all of you who have supported and encouraged me, read my blog and been a part of my project - as well as a way for me to show off even further - here is my short film 'letters' which was completed as part of the Year31Project in May/June of this year.

Be sure to watch, comment and share.