// a look backward.

This year was… honestly such a blur but I couldn’t really imagine it any other way.
So full. So rich.

Yes, I know there are so many 2018 reflection posts flying around [sorry to add to your reading list but also not sorry LOL]

Yes, I was that basic chick that added a shoot tonne of photos to their Instagram story *sob* but like I’ve never really done it before and it’s a mode of self-encouragement for me sooooooooo whogivesacarereallyhonestly?

….But anyways. I’m about to continue my annual tradition of unpacking this year best I can through some of the questions I had last year [crazy how the answers evolve!] Bear with me.

Shall we? [;

If you had to describe your 2018 in 3 words, what would they be?
Independent, challenging, grateful.

What new things did you discover about yourself?
I’ve got a bit of an addictive personality, I spend way too much time thinking sometimes, I really do enjoy singing, I’m far too hard on myself sometimes, and I do have the capacity to live in the moment! I also harbor incredible resilience when I want to tap into it, and I am capable of self-control, I just need to keep reminding myself of my “whys”.

What single achievement are you most proud of?
Oof, this is tough. There are two things I think of that tie for “first place” here.

  1. Finishing this semester with a higher GPA than I could have ever expected given the circumstances. Not like GPA is everything– god no, it’s not. I just think that it’s a really interesting reflection of my drive and my work ethic despite the shitstorms that took place. My academic work and my academic life are purely of my own creation– it’s all me, it’s something I take completely into my own hands.
  2. Getting and buying my own car. This was *all* me. Countless hours I spent working to make the money. Countless hours I spent online hunting one down. Countless times I got myself to where I needed to be to test-drive, negotiate, etc. And then when I found *the* one, I went all by myself to get it. I even haggled the price down on my own, and drove it back, without a drop of assistance. It’s moments like these that push me out of my comfort zone, that force me to have faith, and fill me with the idea that I really can do anything I put enough of my mind to.

What was your favourite place that you visited in 2018?
TEXAS! Specifically Corpus Christi! When I think “TEXAS” I think of flat land and oil rigs and cowboy hats and drawl but being able to visit this coastal town in such a meaningful way was so special. I love tropical places, and I was sad to leave a place of sunny 75 degrees to come back, jet-lagged, to freezing cold and a campus covered in snow that hadn’t cancelled classes. LOL.

Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
Damn. A couple definitely came into play, and for a couple reasons:

  • my resilience [this could be an entire blog post in itself LOL].
    How have I made it this far in my life without suffering like, a super bad breakup? I mean, I guess I’ve had *bad* [hell, it’s not a time of rainbows and daisies] but like, not ones that result in super bad blood afterwards. Then again, I guess I’ve never really found myself at the end of a cheating-relationship.Believe me, I’m *not* into defaming people on the internet, but the whole process has definitely put on a damper on things (my life, myself, my personality, my life choices etc), and I have felt *powerless*. And I guess that’s what happens when you come to rely and trust a little too much on someone. #hardfacts

    The thing I was also *not* a fan of… was the fact that I was basically told my emotions. I was told to “pick one”: either “angry/vindictive” or “polite and cordial”. Like, what? 

    I was also told what I “needed”. I’m sorry, but my blood is going to boil and my independence is going to shine the frick through the minute you are:

    1) not honest with me
    2) telling me all of the things that *I* want in a relationship to cover up the fact that you can’t do the aforementioned outlined in #1, and lastly…!
    3) telling me what to do and how to feel. Sorry, not gonna fly.

    Yes, I may have acted out on some emotions that materialized into something out of a Taylor Swift song [sorry, but some envelopes of love letters belong on a front porch rather than clutter in the corner of a room], however those moments were, in my eyes, mine– truly mine.
    I rarely act out, and I am rarely petty, so I took some of that allowance I’d saved up. Oh, and it also allowed me to cast a huge magnifying glass on the gaslighting and other red flags. LOL. I can’t really apologize for what I feel, and I’m going to feel the feel out of those feelings. Ya feel?

    It’s also crazy! the difference between chasing yourself around your head, wondering what the hell you did wrong, and then, purely by chance, stumbling across the earth-shattering moment of clarity when you find out *exactly* what went wrong: a spawn of drunk texts measuring 5 ft 4″ in a music building, one-upping you by the corner of the stairs by an exit you weren’t even supposed to be near. HAHA.

    But what do you do?

    You step forward. You get out of bed. You do your best to show up and be kind to others.  You have your week-long pity party and use it to open your eyes and realize that the timing was actually low-key *perfect*, that if you’re not growing you’re dying, and that some people are just a little slower when it comes to finding their shortcomings.

    And then you love. And do your best to move on.

    Something I’ve found SO insanely helpful is this text by Cleo Wade from her book Heart Talk (UM, THAT I APPARENTLY NEED TO READ??!!!)

  • my assertiveness. This assertiveness gave me my gut feelings. It also got me a car. It got me better interpersonal skills. I recall writing earlier a lot about hard conversations.
    Assertiveness is key. This year has taught me not to shy away from follow-up questions. It’s also taught me not to let people get away with petty things. It’s taught me to speak up when I felt I haven’t been able to, and it’s taught me to stand up for what I believe to be right. It’s also taught me that sometimes people are scared into inaction and even the slightest move forward will make you stick out from the rest.
  • my creativity. GOD I love this. I am blessed– so blessed– to be surrounded by inspiration and amazing people every day. This is what fuels it all. From a young age, I made greeting cards for family and friends. This catapulted a love for design of all kinds. However my creativity is by no means limited to this kind of stuff! Coming up with plans, finding new ways to save money and shop my closet, clever-frugal-meaningful gift-giving and writing my way into a study abroad program…. all of this I attribute to the one thing I truly believe to be at the core of me and who I am. It’s strictly Stephanie. What can I say?

Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
My roommates. ♥ They are a loving amoeba and conglomeration of the light and love of the world.

Which new skills did you learn?
I kinda re-learned to play ukelele!
Mac OS [my major is practically all mac-based so I’ve had to become super intimate with the interfaces and whatnot]
And I learned so much about Adobe software, from Illustrator, to InDesign, to AfterEffects and Premier Pro. So much technology was learned 😀 And I’m so thankful cuz it’s all super helpful professional development!
Effective mediation/communication [LOL still a work in progress though! As always with these things!]

What, or who, are you most thankful for?
My roommates, my real friends, my family, and my positive role-models.

If someone wrote a book about your life in 2018 what kind of genre would it be?
As tempted as I am to stick with last year’s declaration of “a romantic dram-com. With some explosions and a dash of sci-fi,” I think this year can better be summed up as a sardonically funny self-help book. LOL.

What was the most important lesson you learned in 2018?
Gonna make a list of 4 key lessons here:

  • Sleep is invaluable
  • self-care is key
  • communication is everything
  • don’t settle.

Which mental block(s) did you overcome?

  • The idea that I have to mold myself based on people’s wants/needs/expectations and that my self worth/value can be found in another person. Quite the contrary— I am my rescue and in full control of what I want, how I present myself, how I spend my time.
  • There’s no use in trying to change myself for someone when all it brings is pain, and at a point, at the end of the day, some hard cuts have to be made in order to get on track to find happiness.
  • When in doubt, talk about it. Too much of the time I find myself tossing around what I want to say, what I wish to say around the inside of my skull, creating a biased, assumed reality that may never ever come to fruition. If you’re worried about something, bring it up. If you want to make sure you’re on the same page, don’t be afraid to mention something. If you have questions, ask them. Sometimes the worst thing is sitting under the weight and then decay of thoughts that could be debunked but we don’t know because we don’t dare to investigate them further.

What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?
TFW you gotta expand this list [but at the same time you realize that at this point in life, all you really need is a handful [or two!] of really solid people:
and ultimately my ex [it happened, what can I say?]

What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
Career wise? Definitely picking up a client for a non-profit over the summer. That was so cool. The fact that I was able to do work and muddle my way through MySQL and web transfer shit and all this stuff for a non-profit was pretty eye-opening, liberating, and fun.
And then I got hired as a digital learning center tutor/fellow :D. Awesome stuff.

How did your relationship to your family evolve?
“I’d say it’s pretty stagnant. There’s the whole “corrected partnership” ideal I mentioned last year but I would be remiss if I overlooked the fact that it’s not always that cut and pretty. There’s plenty to learn, plenty of hiccups, plenty of salt, plenty of passive aggression. The cool part is when you get to find moments that unite and reinforce the positive elements in the ever-evolving relationship.”

^Complete ditto to Stephanie of 2017.

What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey takes a spot at the top again. It’s something I just keep KEEP coming back to.

But don’t worry, I’m about to add a movie to my list:
Dumplin’ – A Netflix Original – I walked into this movie. I was sitting in my best friend’s basement just a week or so ago and we saw it. It looked good, we watched it. Never has something struck so deep a chord with me and ended up falling right into my life afterwards.

The movie has *SUCH* a fabulous message. It may not be like, an avant-garde production from an artistic perspective, but the way they wove the story in with the SOUNDTRACK just got me so hard in a way I didn’t think possible. It literally re-kindled my love for Dolly Parton, and I’ve had her songs–her wonderful, self-assured and uplifting songs–in my heart and in my mind ever since the credits rolled. 12/10, would ABSOLUTELY recommend.

What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life? 
The coffee!! The walks to class, waking up to the best roommates and the pupper, the sunrises and sunsets I got to see, the FANTASMICAL blanket of stars I was able to see both on retreat, and lying atop a Toyota Carolla. And I would be *so* remiss if I didn’t mention the random running into friends and stopping along the way for meaningful conversations.

What cool things did you create this year?

  • a website that’s a more professional portfolio for me as a student
  • my first every major scrap-booking project– a baby book for an acquaintance
  • a logo and subsequent promotional materials for our campus ministry food pantry
  • a kick-ass final project for my German Lit class that was a tangible, labyrinth-thing boardgame to echo the aesthetics of Franz Kafka’s works [in specific, Die Verwandlung]
  • a personal landscape – part of our photoshop-bootcamp where we had to express ourselves in a composite image:
  • a short, one-minute video montage of a personal story
  • my personal brand

What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)? 
Stressed. For sure. I think I talked a bit about how one should strive *not* to live a life of “urgency”. There’s so much that needs to change, including my current state of productivity, my happiness levels… but hey, a day at a time, right?

Honestly though, I would say this year was also HELLA exciting though. 😀

Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
Yes! *ahem* See below ^_^

  • filed my own self-employed taxes [WAOW what a headache]
  • bought a car and outright own it!
  • turned 21 [lol does that count]
  • went to Texas on a Mission Trip!
  • witnessed my first ever Ordination ceremony
  • kissed a donkey [see item #4]
  • did freelance work for a non-profit
  • started a food pantry
  • visited a brewery
  • went to a WINERY like a grown ass adult

What was your favourite moment spent with your friends?
Two moments call to me above the rest, inluding:
– That one night we got bedbugs and literally just had a group break-down.
– During finals week when we [I say “we”– I mean one person in particular XD] were having ourselves a grand old time slinging textbooks off the balcony into the dumpster below [my soul died just a little bit watching it, but it was very fun to witness XD]

What major goal[s] did you lay the foundations for? 

  • buying a car
  • getting a new job at my university’s learning center
  • studying abroad in Ireland!
  • starting a food pantry with my campus ministry

Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?

  • various fearful feelings towards shots [I do NOT do needles well but it’s always not ever as bad as I think it’s gonna be]
  • not being able to drive to and from school [2 hours]
  • stressing over my GPA and finals week
  • worrying about opinions of other people

What experience would you love to do all over again?
Our mission trip to Texas. The people, the weather, the work, the VIEWS (!!!) so amazing. And I love flying. And going to new places. It was just all kinds of wonderful and I hope I can get something like that again this year.

What was the best gift you received?
Christmas *just* happened so I have so many things that come to mind– probably the most meaningful Christmas to date, tbh, not just cuz of the presents but for the *people* and their loving intentions. BUT ANYWAYS. I’d probably say the best gifts included a AAA membership, a car scraper, car repair $$, and the books Gmorning, Goodnight and Hyperfocus#adulting #selfhelp

How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
I like to think it improved. The world is so much bigger, there are people who will and do cherish you, your time, energy, and attention are YOUR MOST VALUABLE ASSETS,  and they are all what you make of it. I also like to think that I have faith that I’ll end up where I want/need to be.

What was the biggest problem you solved?
Re-shaping my perspective, due in part by cutting a lot of negativity/toxicity out of my life. Sometimes it takes time, and time away, to step back and realize “LOL I actually don’t know why this even had a place in my life” And then you make adjustments, reflect on them, remember them, and, as always, try your hardest to move ever forward.

What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
Oh come now, I don’t think I can point out just one. I guess that means that there’s just been a lot of ugly-laugh moments

What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
My 1TB WD external hard drive. 12/10 would HIGHLY recommend. I had so much *production* in my coursework this year, and I don’t know how I would have survived without it. It’s like a USB drive on steroids, and it’s just so portable and GAH I love it.

What’s one thing would you do differently and why?
I would listen to my instincts [they exist for a reason and sometimes there’s no use overriding them] and subsequently stop trying so hard to please others when I’m not getting any reciprocation *whatsoever*

What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Not egging people’s houses.  Surviving finals week this year! And for getting accepted into my study abroad program–woo! And also just… doing me, getting used to being on my own, and using tact and grace correctly [when needed]

What activities made you lose track of time?
Adventuring with *people*! Writing! Reading! Fellowship! Eating dessert with people!

What did you think about more than anything else?
My relationships. And money. *wince*

What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
WEB DESIGN and NORMAL DESIGN FUNDAMENTALS ahhhhhhh. It’s what propels me forward– honestly being engaged with the subject matter you’re learning helps *so much*. Chris Bailey notes in Hyperfocus that it’s not so much what and how much you’re reading, but rather, how interested you are that determines the amount of time and energy you put into something. You could be flying through essays and novels about frogs and it doesn’t feel like it if you have the burning passion for frogs. You know?

What new habits did you cultivate?
Last year, I had a list of “GOOD” and “BAD” habits. I’m all to aware of my bad habits right now, so I will concentrate on the GOOD:

  • Going to bed somewhat consistently
  • Staying positive
  • Drinking coffee every morning [I guess not necessarily “good” or “bad”… but new! LOL]
  • Meal prepping for a good solid 3 weeks there! [kinda fell off the rails a bit later]
  • reading before bed time!

What advice would you give your early-2018 self if you could?
Dear early-2018 self,

First of all, thank you. For being you. And go you. Look at all you’re doing and will do. Hunker down for change, cuz it’s a’comin’! HAAHA [oh yeah, keep your sense of humour pls and thx.]

Some of it will be scary. Some of it will be heartbreaking. Some of it will make you feel like you’re invincible. Whatever it is, look at it head on, check your worth, and walk forward, alone or with friends. Friends are a great treasure, never forget that.

Asking for help is okay. So is letting your guard down. It will be scary, but the worst thing you can do is go hide, isolate yourself and pretend things aren’t happening.

You know what’s cool? You have so much ahead of you, you don’t even know– people you haven’t met yet, planes you haven’t boarded, trips you haven’t taken, concepts you haven’t learned. So take your time.  There’s so much joy and laughter that you will come to know.

Please try to put your nose to the grindstone a little better with regards to managing your time. If Christ Bailey is your idol you should probably take what he says to heart and start practicing what you preach.

Drink more tea, dammit, drink more water, and drink coffee strategically rather than habitually [this will be hard for you.] Get more rest, and for the love of Christ please take time to slow down, unplug, and cherish the ones you live and love with.

Mistakes are inevitable but they aren’t all bad. Take time for yourself.  Revel in the activities that make you happy. Revel in the activities that make you better. They may be hard but the return is *so* high and *so* worth the investment.

Also read more books. You have a host of titles you collected over the times so get on that!

Say a prayer in the morning, count the blessings before bed and try to learn to forgive yourself. There’s plenty of pain, but take time to feel it. Take time to harness its power. This is important. This is so you can move on more clear-headed, more thoroughly. Remember your worth, always take the time and put in the effort, even if it seems stupid. You can also afford to get off your high horse and listen to the dissonance around you. Lastly, put in the time to love yourself, free yourself of the wicked comparison game, and please remember that you are always enough.
Your future self

Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
Yes. My relationships. For the better, honestly. In my personal dealings with the people I care about, communication has been everything. Even when it’s lacking from other parties, being able to be vulnerable and comfortable, more real and more open with people has played such and important part in my friendships this year. Every one is a beautiful, complex mystery– so why don’t we take the time and the care to investigate with avid interest and love and patience?

What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
The friends who have long since stood by, who have put up with my insanity and impulses and bouts of mania… who have loved me every step of the way… I can echo my 2017 self when I say that the road really is almost never completely smooth… but it would be a shame to say that one hits a dead end– it’s never a hard stop in learning and growing and loving as such things progress. It’s the people in my life this year that have taught me more than I could ever realize about myself, that have brought me endless joy, striking clarity, and baskets of gratitude as I move forward.

This year has been…riddled with laughter and tears, work and play, distractions and laser-sharp focus. Everything that has been teaches me something new, and I’m so thankful for that.

I also listened to a ton of music this year, and I think that it’s cool that Spotify has decided to wrap it for me! [:  Check it out here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1EjiIMJ03Q4ndw




It’s kind of funny because I’m in the process of finishing up another kind of reflection on 2018 in the form of a book–sorta?– and I’ll speak more about it later, but I love how this post and that process have kind of coincided! More on this to come!

Well anyways. Here’s to reflection on the old, and embracing the new– new hopes, new joys, new possibilities.

[:Have a blessed New Year’s, everyone ♥


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