Let me reflect on where I was last year at this time. I had no travel plans at all for 2016 locked in as a 100%. I was working seventy hours a week at two jobs that did nothing for me mentally. I was in school with a defined major that I cared about but didn’t know what I wanted to do with. On New Year’s Eve, I was at the same gross club that I was at the year before with the same people.
A lot can change in a year.
Let’s start with item number one: travel. The following is the list of places out of the United States that I had been to at the beginning of 2016:
- Canada, when I was four
- The Bahamas for a few days on a cruise
- … Does China Town in NYC count?
Yeah, it’s a sad list. I had such an interest in the world around me and hadn’t seen much of it. I was feeling restless and unfulfilled. In March, I finally got my passport and haven’t taken a break from traveling until right now, as I’m writing this. I began by traveling by myself around the United States, such as trips to Chicago and New York in the spring, just to see if I could do it successfully without dying (spoiler alert: irrational fears are dumb and everything was literally fine). In early June, I went abroad for the first time — for over a month, with a bunch of people I didn’t know. Everyone I knew told me I was insane, but I just had to go and it was such a great opportunity that I couldn’t say no. What followed turned out to be probably the most monumental thing I had ever done, Reconnect Hungary. I went to the country where my ancestors are from and learned about my family’s heritage and who I was. It was so eye-opening, and I left with a whole new connection to myself and where I came from. I decided it was as good a time as any, since I was already there, to run around for a little while, because why not? I’ll be the first to admit it – it was insane. I did things during my first trip to Europe that not one person I know who has been there had done. Most times, the insane things are probably the best things.
With just over a month in between, my next stop was Panama, the Latin-American secret oasis that I am so proud to have found a home in. While interning with Kalu Yala, I made the strongest relationships that I have ever had in my entire life with the most incredible group of people from all over the world. I learned a lot about business, sustainability, and community living, but in the process, I also learned a lot about myself. I learned how to understand the things that I was feeling and recognize where my headspace was. I found an inner peace that I wouldn’t have access to if I had not experienced the things that I did in the mountains. I wish I could say more, but I just can’t find the words. If you want to know, just go there. You’ll get it.
The following is the list of places out of the United States that I have been to at the end of 2016, in addition to my unfortunate previous list:
- Costa Rica
So it’s been an exciting year, and I am all too excited to expand upon this list and adventure more in 2017.
With the weird enlightened feeling that probably most feel once they’re home from traveling, I have learned to find joy and happiness in things that I didn’t before. I quit the job that I hated and am learning to take things that frustrate me at Starbucks and find solutions through research and informed conversation. It’s okay to be angry about things that upset you if that anger is fueled by a passion to fix and improve the things that are wrong. I am officially starting a second job on January 2nd, finally beginning my professional journey with Coach, and I am so excited for the opportunity. I’m returning to school on January 9th, and I’m looking forward to diving deep into my studies and devoting my attention to expanding my wealth of knowledge into different subjects and further fueling that anger and passion to improve the world that we live in. I plan to make every decision in 2017 angled toward getting one step closer to my personal long-term goals. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a crucial year in setting myself up for success in 2018, and I want to make the most out of every opportunity.
Finally, I realized that most of the friendships I was working so hard to maintain in 2016 were very surface. Most of those people don’t actually care what I’ve been up to or how I feel or what struggles I’m dealing with. Right here, right now, I am promising to myself to focus only on the people that matter. I spent this year exhausting myself to include certain people in my life that made no effort to include me in theirs. I am worth more than a back-up plan, so I’m riding this year out with middle fingers up to y’all, because your backup plan just dipped. I have no bad blood towards anyone, but I’m done with pretending to myself that I am best friends with people that have no idea who I even am anymore. In 2017, I’m focusing on myself and the relationships that matter. I’m focusing on the people that care about me as much as I care about them.
Much love to everyone. I’ll see in the new year.