Things that made me feel better (2023)

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by Anna Parsec
Updated: December 30, 2023
6 minute read
Anna at Fushimi Inari-taisha temple in 2023

This time of the year, everyone is eager to share reflections on the year’s outcomes or, even better, its accomplishments. Despite having done that last year and genuinely enjoying the process (and feedback!), I find it might not be a healthy practice, at least for me. This is because I tend to construct my entire life around stacking achievements upon achievements. Consequently, I’ve decided to shift my perspective and think about ‘Things that made me feel better.’

To be frank, many of these things could still go into the achievements bundle, given my habitual approach. However, I hope that next year’s picture will be a bit different.

Without further ado, here’s my list of things that significantly or subtly improved my well-being in 2023. One more thing though: there is no particular order, I definitely could have forgotten something amazing and wonderful happening but that’s what popped into my head right now. 

1. Unconditional PhD offer

I mentioned my PhD offer last year. However, it wasn’t until December this year that I actually received it because the Mullard Space Science Laboratory required a completed master’s degree to issue the unconditional offer. While it might appear that everything unfolded in the background, I believe that without my hard work, monitoring, and dedication to my studies, achieving this outcome might have been uncertain. Therefore, when I finally received the unconditional offer, it brought me joy and, indeed, a significant sense of feeling good.

UCL PhD Unconditional offer in 2023

2. Marrying James

We’ve known each other for 8.5 years, dated for 3 years, and have been married for almost half a year now. James consistently uplifts me—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Our wedding, in particular, solidified everything wonderfully. It feels like the way it should be, the decision we should have made years ago. It brings immense happiness and I definitely feel much better!

James and Anna marriage

3. Distinction in Masters in Space Science and Engineering at UCL

Yeah, yeah, if it weren’t for the distinction, I might have thought I failed this master’s programme. It’s pretty ridiculous, though. I lack a solid background in physics, maths, or engineering, and passing this highly challenging master’s would have been truly fantastic. I acknowledge that. However, I’ve always known that only a distinction would truly satisfy me. Perhaps, it convinced me of my capability to achieve anything. Additionally, it would assist me in my future applications. Saying that I’ve passed such a degree is one thing; demonstrating my worth through a ‘distinction’ is another. Yet, completing a program at the eighth-ranked university worldwide should have been sufficient. Hm, something for me to work on. But in the meantime, it brings me relief and makes me feel better.

Award Certificate UCL MSc in 2023

4. Completing the divorce proceedings

That’s something I also mentioned last year. However, that was the actual divorce. Despite my best efforts, the financial proceedings were not over until the end of May 2023. The entire process took me 4 years. I can’t believe it took so long. It was also my personal hell. I feel that I definitely should cover what happened, when, and why. As you can imagine, the moment when everything was finally over—the moment when funds landed in my account—I felt so much better. James witnessed most of this journey, so he felt like he finally got the divorce as well. My sympathies, my love. Anyway, the day after, we went to celebrate at the Pigin restaurant, which was the best meal of the year (apart from multiple French onion soups made by us), and later that week, we finally gave notice to get married. We both felt much better!

Anna at Pidgin restaurant in 2023

5. British Citizenship

Wooh, that’s a big one. I think we were celebrating it bigger than birthdays or even the wedding. It definitely required more money than the wedding. The journey took 5 years. It is worthy of a series of posts – that’s how challenging, multistage, and unguaranteed everything was. When I got my Indefinite Leave to Remain, it was one of the happiest moments of my life. My British Citizenship and, 2 weeks later, my British passport confirmed my status, made my life much easier, and certainly made me feel amazingly better.

Anna at her British Ceremony in 2023

6. Mum’s visit

I haven’t seen my mum for 3+ years due to the pandemic and the war. I didn’t particularly miss her, as we were interacting online enough for me not to feel the lack of communication with my mum. However, her stay with us for 2.5 months made me feel better in many ways, mainly because she was looking after James and me by cooking something easy and delicious, giving daily massages to me, and going out to explore the city. She regularly got me soap bubbles, which made me feel like a little girl again, a nice moment of nostalgia.
Gala visiting Anna in London in 2023
Annas mum at Primrose Hill
Anna and Gala at Primrose Hill playing with bubbles

7. Christmas just two of us

We have spent 4 Christmases together. One with James’ mum, one with James’ dad, and two just the two of us. We love having Christmas together and without anyone else. There is something very private and intimate about this holiday that we feel much better spending it that way. We sort of made a decision that from now on, it will be our small family thing, and we’ll start our own traditions and rituals for this occasion of the year.
James and Anna at a hot spring near Mount Fuji

8. Invoicing

We have been running our own business for the past 2.5 years. It has been challenging, but definitely, the most satisfying. It’s hard for us to imagine how we could manage everything we do if we were still working for someone else. We value this freedom. We unquestionably work much better than before, and we feel good about it. We understand why we work so hard, and we take pride in our efforts. My favourite part of it all is invoicing for projects. I’ve experienced even more satisfaction since I started invoicing for the entire project upfront. It makes things easier for everyone involved, and I feel good about that!

Anna Feeling Better in 2023 with a lift selfie

9. Fuck word

Never ever in my life would I have thought that saying “fuck” would help me so much. I had avoided any words like that for most of my life. Until suddenly, I decided to repeat after James’ mum, who quite mastered occasions, intonation, and the usage of this word. I tried it once, twice, and it was actually pretty helpful! I now appreciate it in certain situations. Considering that I use it rarely enough, when I do use it, my point comes across much easier. Feel better about that!

Anna playing tennis at Waterlow Park

10. James

My husband pretty much gets 2 points for making me feel better (in the marriage point and in this one) because, really, he should have gotten 10 points. He is just wonderful, and it feels like his purpose in life is to make me feel better. Among many other great qualities, he is also extra supportive, caring, attentive, gentle, strong, kind, generous, understanding, skillful, which, as you can see, are destined to make anyone feel better at any given moment. The best moments of my life are shared with James, and for that, I am very thankful.
James at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo Japan 2023

Now, what am I going to change or do next year? I hope there will be no achievements. I think I’ve had enough of them. My priorities will be rest, health, work/life balance. What I am going to focus on is sleeping, having some offline time, physical activity, eating really well and drinking water. I’ve certainly travelled enough this year—5 months of travel and some 15 countries is quite alright, so travelling is not on my list.

Here we go, these are my things that made me feel better in 2023. Tell me what yours are here.

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