Although 2016 delivered us some absolute bullshit, it also gave me some of the biggest changes.

Last year I finally got to travel to a place I’ve always loved and met people who became my family. After being stuck in an emotionally crippling situation for years, I was at a total loss for who I was- a stage after high school that was taken from me. You don’t really recognise emotional abuse until you’re far away enough from the situation to realise it.

After a year of coming to terms with myself, I still wasn’t completely me. I wasn’t out on social media as bisexual, out of fear of this person from my past would blame my sexuality for everything she was responsible for. I was still plagued by fear, and looking back now that breaks my heart.

So I travelled and I fell in love with a place- Toronto. A place where I met people who weren’t afraid to be themselves, where friends supported each other and didn’t get passive aggressive, or jealous, or bitter. Everyone is unapologetically themselves, and those people are beautiful. That place is beautiful. That place is home. I’m so appreciative for every person I called a friend over there, who are still some of my closest friends now. Not to play favourites, but I’m thankful for these guys specifically :

Naima. Naima I met in the same shit talking group and I’ve never been more thankful for being so petty. Seriously, I’ve never met someone so selfless in my entire life. Someone who had never met me in person, but treated me as though we’d always been family. A truly kind soul and my days would be dull without her wit and honesty.

Laura. Someone I knew from the internet, and became better friends with in Canada. I’m so lucky we were there at the same time because she’s one of the people I can always talk to, and someone I know will always be there. Whether that’s in the form of talking to me after a nightmare or combining forces on a savage subtweet.

And Maryne. A friendship that really blossomed the second time I spent overseas. A hilarious and talented individual, but most importantly, an amazing friend. I’ve never met anyone who puts everyone they care about before themselves, even if those people are unaware of the harm they’re causing. If I could wrap her in a blanket and protect her from the self absorbed people in the world, I would. Sitting on her rooftop, looking and the Toronto skyline, singing the x flies theme song, and learning more about each other is honestly one of the highlights of my life so far. That level of comfort in such a short time is a very rare find.

Going overseas twice left me broke and literally broken, but I wouldn’t change it.
When I came home the second time I had a fear of being *that* afraid again. People started asking me about my sexuality and my initial instinct was to lie- a habit I became too familiar with. The thought that if I liked a girl rather than a guy, I could never trust her.

But then I met a girl. An amazing girl. Someone when I really first started talking to was going through the worst physical and mental pain. But I knew I liked her straight away, and I felt no fear. Now, months later, I still feel no fear. I don’t want to hide her, I get to kiss her in public and I’d tell her anything she’d want to know.
It’s a rare thing to find someone you not only clique with straight away, but also trust straight away. Being open with people is something I’ve been working on for a few years now, but it’s the easiest thing in the world with her. I admire her for everything she’s been through, and I’m proud of her for everything she is.

I found a home in a place, I came back and found a home in a person. I feel beyond lucky, and with all the horrible things that happened, I’m thankful for it. It’s really the worst things that can shape who you are.

Former England left-back Ashley Cole claims he has no regrets over leaving Arsenal for Chelsea - and has laughed at the Gunners’ struggles ever since.

Cole: “I had a great time there, I missed the old players that were there but I moved on and won every trophy I could. I wouldn’t look back and say I regretted it, no.’

Cole also said that he has enjoyed watching Arsenal’s malaise over the last decade: “If I’m honest, yeah - I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.’

Cole was accused of chasing money - and even nicknamed ‘Cashley’ - by some supporters after leaving his boyhood club for Stamford Bridge in 2006.