2017 – a year of awesomeness, depression & loads of data

2017 illustration a year in review

A long year awaits me after another long year has passed. Every year on the 31st of December, I sit down to write my annual review and each and every year starts with the same sentence. A long year awaits me after another long year has passed. And looking back, there hasn’t been one year that wasn’t both too long and too short at the same time.  The storm of the first half of 2017 gave way to months filled with bliss. I can’t recall another year that had taught me nearly as much as this. It was a year filled with awesomeness, depression and collecting data. But at the end I am happy. Perhaps this is because I don’t think I could ever love someone as much as I love myself.

So, here’s my review of 2017. A mixture of words, infographics with a hella lot of date and illustrations. Make of it what you want.

2017 illustration a year in review - the fall - depression on the rise

The Fall

In January I returned from Boston with a heavy heart and the pieces of what I had thought my life would be. It was yet another loss of a picture-perfect future. Another life not lived. Another person to not grow old with. And it was the loss of a future that trumped the loss of him – for losing him wasn’t the thing that broke my heart, it was losing the life I never knew I wanted that suddenly disappeared into thin air. I began to realise then that I wasn’t looking for somebody but rather something. Something bigger, something better, something more meaningful.

In the early days of February, I fell apart. I was miserable. I hated my job, I hadn’t dealt with my past, and I was so unsure of myself that my depression had an easy way in. And on this one night, everything just crumbled. It was the first time in nearly a decade that I cried. And I wasn’t able to stop. I wasn’t able to stop for weeks. I cried and cried and cried some more. I cried at work and on subways. I cried at home and when I was with friends. Everything that I had so carefully locked away started to weigh me down.The tremors and gasps of my crying tore through my body with such ferocity that I felt like I was on the brink of unconsciousness. One day I texted my therapist in the middle of the night, and this was the start of nearly 400 hours of therapy over the course of 4 months and a battle I had dreaded for too long. We’re okay now, me and my past. It took some time, a billion words and quite a few anti-depressants, but we’re okay now.

It wasn’t until one night in late April when I was looking at the punctured pill packet in my hand, after a long therapy session of recollecting my past that I decided to change my present drastically. I was in need of something new, hell, I was in need of everything new.


2017 illustration a year in review - the rise - a year well spent

The Rise

When quitting your job, you have to remember two things: do it respectfully and don’t start high-fiving yourself while still talking to your boss about your decision.

It was my first day of work after two months of sick-leave. I walked into the office, quite sure of myself and my decision. I knew I had to make this change. I was ready for it. But life doesn’t always work out the way you’d planned. So instead of me quitting my job, I was fired. When getting fired from your job you wanted to quit anyway, you have to remember two things: don’t giggle like a 5-year-old and don’t start high-fiving yourself while your boss is still talking about how sorry he is. That day I walked out of this office, all my things stuffed into bags, waiting for the cab and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was the happiest I had felt in months.

What followed were a few months of trial and error. I started my own company and was suddenly swamped with work – but in a good way. I was enjoying every bit of it. I only took on projects I really wanted to do while having a great summer. I met new people, did so many new things and finally had crafted myself a life I truly enjoyed. I started to travel again, a thing I had feared for years as my anxiety was always the strongest when being somewhere else. I was constantly moving, working, living. And there I found comfort in myself again. Not only being okay with being alone but also really embracing it. With that came another significant change: I let myself be vulnerable. I opened up to people in ways I never had before. I was open and honest and found myself forming stronger bonds to people than ever.


2017 illustration a year in review - the rearrangement - finding comfort

The Rearrangement

Somewhere around fall, it became clear to me that I was missing something: people! I was so used to working with people. People to bounce ideas around with, to have coffee breaks with, to work with. I was bored out of my mind working on my own. So I applied for a job I always had thought I wanted. And they offered me a job. So there I was, with an opportunity many would kill for. A fancy job in a fancy company in fancy San Francisco. It sounded so amazing, but something was off, and I wasn’t able to pinpoint it. There’s this sweet irony in realising that you’d been going in the wrong direction, once you finally come to the end. A clarity that had been there all along hidden in plain sight. For me this epiphany came just in time before I packed my things to leave for another continent: I’m perfectly fine where I am at. I love this beautiful yet grumpy city I call home. And I didn’t wanna go.

And even before declining their offer, I had a few new job opportunities lined up and came January 8th, 2018 I’ll be calling a new company my work home while still managing my own business and working on awesome projects. But more on that later.

The Heart’s Content

I let myself enjoy the little things this year. Reading a good book while drinking a cuppa tea, listening to my favourite playlist while walking the dog, spending hours on private projects.

I have learned so many new things this year. I stopped referring to weird things I like as guilty pleasures. I made a couple of new friends, thanks to the dog park and twitter. I found so much comfort in my dog and finally stopped worrying about me not being good enough for him. I visited old dreams and brought some of them to my present.

I don’t know where exactly I want my life to go, but all I know is I want to give people a reason to remember my name and to be as happy as I can. And I want to be lovely. Jeez, being a lovely person is the most fantastic thing you can do for yourself.


The Data

I’ve been tracking things for the past year. At times it was tough, especially while I was suffering depression, but I pulled through. Now I have this set of data, a weird mix of things I’ve done, consumed and experienced this year. Thanks to Nicholas Feltron for the inspiration. Please click to expand.

2017 - annual report

2017 illustration a year in review - data - communication and relationships infographic

2017 illustration a year in review - data - media & literature infographic

2017 illustration a year in review - data - mental health infographic

2017 illustration a year in review - data - activity and travel infographic

2017 illustration a year in review - data - food and drinks infographic

1 Comment

  • Wundervoller und ehrlicher Rückblick mit einem wahnsinnig toll umgesetzten Datenporno am Ende. Auf ein gutes 2018

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hi! my name is Ash!

Hi there! My name is Ash! I’m a caffeinated freelance Art Director, Visual Artist and Storyteller, but above all I am a Maker of Things. My heart belongs to nostalgia, my pup and whatever decent coffee I am served. I have a thing for ripped jeans, contemporary literature and the art of reinventing myself whenever life gets too dull.

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