2.0.2.0. // a look back

I’m torn.

On the one hand, I love doing these look-backs from year to year, noticing the stark changes (or similarities) in answers over time. But at the same time, sometimes it just feels like an arduous chore, an empty humble brag, driven by internalized capitalism and the “Need to Feel Like I Have Done Things™ With My Life” this year.

In reality, it’s a miracle I even *got* to do Things™ this year. It’s a miracle we’re even *here* this year. In all honesty I think my grandmother’s death last December may have been COVID related, as it snuck upon us like a quiet assassin. We’ve spent this year in uNpReCeDeNtED ~~killmenow~~ conditions, doing the best we can with what we have, trying to protect ourselves and the ones we love. Sure, there will be people out here saying this year was a really good one for them. That’s okay. There will be some for whom this year was akin to a trip to hell and back. And that’s okay too. I personally feel like my year was a bit of both, but to know that that experience is alive, valid, and okay is what is important.

Truth is I’ve been MIA from this space for a myriad of reasons– a whirlwind of work, life, riveting romance, becoming a cool-aunt to a new kitten, moving to a new place, not feeling like I had anything new or interesting or valid to say…. not to mention overall screen fatigue and feeling like I’ve just done so much reflecting ALREADY outside of this space, so it’s like I was battling a reflection hangover. But I do know within myself that I do have a desire to see, over time, how these stories and happenings play out– i enjoy looking back with fondness (or cringe-ness, or disgust) on this space to have some sort of proof that as the Earth moves, I’m moving with it.

This year has been hard. It’s been long. It’s been isolating, disappointing, lonely, and frustrating. And it has been humbling, rejuvenating, eye-opening, and mind-blowing.

If you had to describe your 2020 in 4 words, what would they be?
Evolutionary. Raging. Dumpster. Fire.

What new things did you discover about yourself?
I discovered a lot of my impulses. I discovered that I’m seldom alone with myself, so when I’m forced to do that, my body and its world are like, “what’s going on……Y U NO HAVE CONSTANT STIMULATION”. I discovered that I really wasn’t valuing myself in the way that I should have been, in the sense that I really did put myself and my needs on the back burner.

What single achievement are you most proud of?
Graduating in the midst of a fucking pandemic. The sudden shift to online learning for me was not good. I am so much of an in-the-classroom-seated-taking-notes-relying-on-professor-interaction type of person. I absolutely HATED my media law class, and, because I was not used to Zoom Fatigue and online learning, I thanked my lucky stars that I’d started out strong in the class and just accepted the D+ on my final because I just couldn’t do it anymore. If I had the chance to re-do it, knowing what I know now about myself and my learning habits, I could probably have implemented strategies for getting through it rather than just straight up saying “you know what, fuck this”, but who has that kind of re-framing, growth mindset when it feels like the world is going to shit, you know?

What was your favourite place that you visited in 2020?
Torn between Occonomowoc, WI and Woodland Park, CO — stunning natural features all around, warmth, and plenty of space to move my body.

Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
My elasticity.
My determination.

My creativity.
My humor.

Which new skills did you learn?
– Ukelele
– Cooking skills! Esp. related to vegan cuisine
– Learned how to set up a hammock

What, or who, are you most thankful for?
I am thankful for time to slow down, to be with myself and understand better. I’m also thankful for the Black womxn who propelled this election forward– they are the wind beneath ALL our wings.

If someone wrote a book about your life in 2020 what kind of genre would it be?
A post-apocalyptic romance self-help book.

What was the most important lesson you learned in 2020?
REST is just as important as the WORK.

Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
I don’t have to be doing something all the time– that’s a nod to internalized capitalism
There’s a saying about “you need to love yourself before you can love someone else” and I would like to report that as bullshit. You can still be in progress, and love someone else as well. Healing or not, loving yourself or not, you are still worthy of love, period.
I don’t need permission to do the thing I want to do.

What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
LOL graduating in a pandemic!

How did your relationship to your family evolve?
It’s still evolving. It’s distant. It’s developing. The pandemic doesn’t make this easier. There are boundaries. It is a continuum.

What book(s), shows(s), or movie(s) affected your life in a profound way?
1. The Body is Not an Apology, book by Sonya Renee Taylor
2. Daring Greatly, book by Brené Brown
3. So You Want to Talk About Race, book by Ijeoma Oluo
4. An Altar in the World, book by Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor
5. Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray, book by Rosalind Rosenberg
6. Eat, Pray, Love, book by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Find Your F*ck Yeah, book by Alexis Rockley

**If any of these titles speak to you, I encourage you to shop for them on independently owned, Black owned book shop sites like these (we must support our neighbors in these times!!!):
https://bookshop.org/
https://www.bustle.com/entertainment/27-black-owned-bookstores-you-can-order-online-from-now-22949566

And, if it’s helpful, this article organizes all the Black-owned bookstores by state, so you can search close to you!

What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
Coffee (:, developing a sleep schedule, memes from friends, being outside, looking out windows, spontaneous dates

What cool things did you create this year?
– An intro video to our ESC Corps based on the Full House intro!
– Some nonsense logos & branding ideas
– vision boardssss
– a ~podcast~
– christmas cards

What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
I can’t answer this question. Whenever I try to think of the answer, it just sends emotions rapid firing through my brain that really are all entangled together. Stressed-out curiosity, intense excitement and severe loneliness & uncertainty, etc. What was good was that I got a bit better at practicing to sit with all of those feelings.

Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?

  • Fly a plane!
  • Throw a full-ass-fledged picnic!
  • Do a protest in a pandemic!
  • Have a full-time, big-girl pay job!
  • Try veganism!
  • Cook spaghetti squash!
  • Moved to Colorado!
  • Have a birthday in quarantine!
  • Be in quarantine!
  • Be single for the longest stretch of time!
  • Be a cool-aunt to a new kitten!
  • Hike mountains in CO!

What was your favorite moment spent with your friends?
Senior Gala, picnics at the park, goodbye meals, mini staycations, my birthday in quarantine, etc.

What major goal[s] did you lay the foundations for in 2020? 

  • Graduation!
  • My service year in Denver, CO!
  • Paying off credit card debt (one card, at least!)
  • being marketable to companies on linkedin/personal profiles??? idek
  • Deconstruct my faith & my whiteness

Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?

  • The move to CO
  • what other people think, lol

What experience would you love to do all over again?
FLY THAT PLANE! among other things

What was the best gift you received?
A hand-illustrated portrait of of me and one of my best friends ❤

How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
I am aware of the fact that at any given moment I can sit down here, and my mood will not only influence the speed with which I type, the tone that I convey… but in many ways my outlook on life is looking in 2 directions– one with a rather pointed cynicism towards systems and people in places of power– rather, I think it’s a dissatisfaction. The other end of that arrow points towards possibility and cautious optimism, as I try to discern my place in this life. Nothing is all sunshine and roses– there’s sunburn and there are thorns that need addressing and so while I think a positive outlook is more my “default” setting, it’s definitely not all there is. We need to put in some work, y’all.

What was the biggest problem you solved?
I hate some of these questions, actually, that force me to single out specific things, or moments, but then I also think that some of them may show up in future job interviews, so that’s……..that I guess.
One “problem”, I guess, was just my ignorance to my privilege and my unexamined whiteness, as well as the harm that was coming either directly from my actions, or the actions of groups/systems/structures within which I participated. I really really recommend people engage in this kind of work, because it is very important when it comes to how we view ourselves, our society, and, perhaps most importantly, how we show up for, take care of, and support one another.

This year really did offer me the time and space to sit with that, do some re-evaluating and gathering of data on how my daily actions, the way I live my life, the way I engage with politics (or not!) and social justice efforts has the potential to cause real harm or heal harm.

My work and my experiences over the past year have forced me to learn, to read, to step into realities other than my own, and have forced me to be more cognizant of all of this nuance, this important inner work that forces us to think outside of ourselves and our biases. With this awareness, it’s been easier to lean into that latter ideal of healing harm and working to contribute in a positive way to my community and my work.

What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
*insert memory with MJ here*

What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
For some reason, I think first about this mustard yellow coat– a christmas present to myself to remind me of my bad-a$$ b!tch vibes. It’s warm and it was on-sale….but the more I think about it, it was Wireless Bluetooth Headphones that take center stage– they enabled me to find joy in running again, and fill my meditative 2-mile walks to work with podcasts and music that feeds my soul.

What’s one thing would you do differently and why?
I JUST heard this question come up in a podcast, and when I tell you the guy being interviewed was like “I can’t answer this, because then I wouldn’t be where I am right now” talking about the ripple effects of our decisions, etc………….. sooooo the one thing I would have done differently is spent less $$$ on food delivery.

What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Starting group therapy, working to pay off debt, setting boundaries, and graduating in a pandemic.

What activities made you lose track of time?
Playing ukelele, writing coverletters (more of a time suck, but still an interestingly engaging process nonetheless), watching some top series on Netflix, walks, running, hiking with people, creating with my hands, and listening to podcasts.

What did you think about more than anything else?
“How do I survive”, “how can I take care of myself right now?” “what do I need?” So yeah I’d say the answer to this one was: myself / my wellbeing

What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
Internet privacy! Human emotions & psychology, practically everything ever about Sonya Renee Taylor’s & Brené Brown’s work, social justice movements, #mutualaid, restorative justice, racial healing & reconciliation

What new habits did you cultivate?
Drinking water every morning, walking to work, adopting veganism, getting better at meal-prep, scrolling on my phone when waking up, using an alarm clock instead of my phone to wake up in the morning (to mitigate the issue of the former item, there)

What advice would you give your early-2020 self if you could?
So I actually wrote myself a letter (to future me!) from 2019 to 2020, and reading that felt like a fever dream. So, as for right now, writing to me ~~in the pAsT~~, what I’d say probably goes something like this:

dearest 2020 steph,

shit is about to HIT THE DAMN FAN LOL. I’m gonna need you to do me a favor. Put down your phone, drink some water, go outside, and maybe practice some furious journaling during this time because things are MOVING and SHAKING and HAPPENING and paying ATTENTION is so important right now.

Take time to look at the best in others. Take time for yourself, and spend less time feeling guilty about all the things that you think people “expect” out of you. At the end of the day, you don’t have to come home to anyone but yourself.

Don’t settle, don’t linger to hard on past mistakes, take repeated behavior at face value (don’t merely trust words); some people will make their choices, thus allowing you to move forward in a direction that actually serves you— leave shit to explode in the periphery, and then do yourself a favor and don’t even bother looking at the periphery ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ simple as that.

Take some time to step into & live your truth. Surround yourself with people who understand complexity & nuance, and who are willing to root for you even when you feel utterly defeated (or you’re hard-core PMSing) or when you can’t see your own power. And spend time with them. Send the text. Make the call. Schedule the zoom. Connection will be key during this time. Don’t be afraid to let your guard down a little. Let yourself be surprised. Lean into love that others have for you.

Stay curious, and stay adamant about loving & seeing people where they are. Be prepared for some hard days. This work is not easy, especially the work you will do day-to-day. Curiosity mingled with compassion & daily gratitude is your best way forward.

Seek justice in all that you undertake and do not wait for others, or systems, or groups, to give you “the green light”. Surely your momentum, your courage, your outspokenness will inspire other kinds, where it is needed most.

Take time to breathe and don’t beat yourself up too much about eating cheese occasionally.
You’ve gained a myriad of experience this year that will serve you well in the next one.

all my love,

steph

Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
yeah, u could say my white privileged ass def turned itself around. And I moved to a new state. That’s a pretty big degree-age change, too. Add on veganism there and it’s like i’m a ~~wholE nEw hUm@n~~ and I date a dedicated, insanely talented chef and VERY attractive NASA man now so there’s that 😀

What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
I would say this move out to Colorado has had a laundry list of positive impacts on me. Being able to be in a new space, living with those I love dearly and who inspire me every day to be better, living out work I can get behind, all while aligning my Truth with my personal desires and personal growth…. all of that has been amazing. And I look forward to continuing that this year.

May your new year be rife with meaningful intention, doused in self-love & respect, and lit by the lights of love & justice, between friends, family, neighbors & co-workers.

xx

2.0.1.9. // a look back

 

…And just like that, I find myself back here, at the end of yet another year. How crazy. If there’s anything this year taught me, it is to write it down. Take the photo. Notice how it feels. Because then you can look back on it all, which is such a critical, beautiful thing.

It’s been hard to be active in this space with my demanding schedule in school, but I’ve been blessed with a wonderfully long break to rest, recharge, and reunite with the important people and things in my life.

I feel mildly like Billie Eilish in her year to year interviews, which I [shamelessly] love watching because it’s literally like an interactive time capsule– you can see the fruits and labors of the years, the growth and the change practically *unfold* before your eyes– which is probably the reason I’ve loved doing these sorts of wrap up posts over the past few years.

*NOTE: I realize that it’s this time of year, and with every recap and win and humble brag, it may be easy to play the comparison game, to feel stressed about where you are, feel like you’re “not doing enough”– but oh my goodness you have come this far. You woke up today, and you are here, alive, reading this. And *that* is enough.*

This year has been beautiful, humbling, and life-changing.

…shall we?

If you had to describe your 2019 in 4 words, what would they be?
Surprising. Frantic. Adventurous.

What new things did you discover about yourself?
I discovered that I am more of an omnivert more than ever now– though I am generally extroverted, I am more in touch now with my limits and when I’ve had enough, when I need to step back and sit out.

I discovered that I am not fundamentally broken. At all. That “needing to love yourself before you love someone else” is not… it’s a flawed trope.

I discovered that I *love traveling* [even more so than I already did] and that I want more of it!!

I discovered that I am capable to making and sticking to a budget ^__^ [and that when my financial life is a mess, I’m a slight mess.]

I discovered that I cannot, to my chagrin, do it all. That saying no is something I can do and get good at, that asking for help is good, and that being open about your struggle is not a bad thing.

I discovered I like hand-washing dishes– it’s cathartic and a lovely, productive way to let the mind wander.

I discovered that I am, and always have been, enough.

I discovered that I actually love broccoli [my 10 year old self would be horrified]

What single achievement are you most proud of?
Loving myself. That’s not to say the journey is anywhere near complete, but it’s an achievement. Loving what I am, what I can do, where I can take myself when I put my mind to it… all cause for celebration, tbh.

What was your favourite place that you visited in 2019?
IRELAND. As a whole, really. But if we’re gonna be specific….:
the Cliffs of Moher, Malin Head in Co. Donegal, and Galway! Such stunning places of charm and personality… they call it the Emerald Isle and I understand. I understand fully now why.

Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
My creativity. To create something from nothing, the ingenuity that has helped me make it through many paychecks, meals, and projects.

My persistence. Probably annoying to some. But if *you* don’t speak for you, who will? Being assertive and going after the things I want for myself was a huge goal for me for 2019, and I like to think that, if I went down, I went down trying.

Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
My mom. ❤

Which new skills did you learn?
I feel like I’m blanking a lot… there’s no way this list is limited to just 6 items, but here’s the ones off the top of my head:
How to give a diabetic cat insulin injections, lol
How to set boundaries.
Some bits a pieces of Japanese!
Adobe Lightroom!
How to go to the gym and not be self-conscious
How to Bachata & Salsaaaaa

What, or who, are you most thankful for?
This past semester, I started adding a few things to my to-do list– before I set up my tasks and my meetings and my obligations, I take a second to answer the following:

“TODAY, I’m thankful for…”, “TODAY, I will focus on…” and “TODAY, I will let go of…”

Looking back on those, I found I was most thankful for:

my roommates, my close friends, projects that demand my creativity and passion, the people and experiences that teach me who I am, the ability to travel, my health!, community building, coffee, a new week, a new start, my breath– my life, my university, music, catching up with friends, my BODY and all does and CAN do for me, strong friendships, patience, stellar group mates, moments of clarity, my work, choir rehearsals, the love and support of family and friends, the peaceful passing of my grandmother…

keeping a physical list of these things daily make it quite clear to me all that I have to be thankful for in this life. I am so blessed, and I want to carry this habit with me into the new decade!

If someone wrote a book about your life in 2019 what kind of genre would it be?
It would be a self-help/free verse poetry book– kind of like if Malcom Gladwell, Cleo Wade, Chris Bailey, and Nayyirah Waheed had a book child [wow what a foursome…..!!]

What was the most important lesson you learned in 2019?
I hate singling out a single lesson for this one, so I’ll cap it at 4 for now:

1) I am, and always have been enough. Point blank, periodt.

2) My happiness is up to me, not someone else.

3) You cannot change the minds of others, their biases, their conception of you, their prejudices, their opinions, their character. All you can do is simply live out life unabashedly as yourself, let that other shit remain detached from you, and let that speak for itself. (You could be the tastiest apple in the orchard but there will STILL be that someone who doesn’t like apples.)

4) Communication is the key to everything. People aren’t mind readers. How can you expect someone to know something if you haven’t effectively communicated it??? If you don’t like something, speak up. If you are feeling a certain way, speak up. If you aren’t feeling it, speak up. If you feel like you need to clarify something, clarify something. Because the “worst thing that can happen” is always so much worse in our heads, in the imagined scenarios we think up for ourselves and play on repeat until the fear outweighs the simple action itself.

Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
Mental block 1: That you have to have to love yourself first before loving someone else.

I feel as if I used to buy into this trope. Yes, self love is so *SO* encouraged. But this also seems to say that you have to perfect that one step before you even consider receiving love from someone else. In reality, love is all around. You’re worthy of it, always. Not just at the end of an “if, then” sentence.

Mental block 2: It has to be perfect the first time.

As a perfectionist who felt like they lived and breathed by this rule I have exhaled *considerably* throughout this year. Sometimes it just has to be “good enough”. Sometimes it’s just going to be unfinished. But the most important thing, no matter what “it” is, is that it gets *started!* That you spend time bringing it into existence, in all of its progress and all of its imperfection and all of its learning.

Mental block 3: The idea that you are responsible for the happiness of others.

It pained me this year. Pained me to the CORE. When you care so much for other people and want them to be happy, it’s easy to just ignore the fact that the circumstances aren’t right, or they’re downright toxic, or that you can put *your* happiness on hold [or flat out ignore it] for the sake of others. It’s a delicate balance. And you can do all you can, you can try your hardest, and it *still* may never be enough. And that’s okay, because it’s not your battle to fight. You can still show you care without burning yourself out.

What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
Practically being one of 2 people to run a digital consulting program

How did your relationship to your family evolve?
Holy crap. A year ago I probably would have been continuing on that “stagnant but improving” bullshit, but. This is one thing that kind of did do a 180 this year. From setting boundaries, to getting closer to my parents and my siblings, to being cognizant of the fact that we’re always, always a team and can get through anything together. I marveled at the fact, two weeks or so ago when my grandmother passed away, how it seems like the only time extended family and immediate family get together is for weddings, reunions, and funerals. Grieving in a group is something else, let me tell you. My heart breaks for my mother, who is taking it hard, but her strength and grace through and despite it all inspires me so much and I want so bad to take those lessons, that strength, that simple, clear, pure, and sure outlook on life…. with me forward through this year.

What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
OOOOH I have a few to put here, mostly books but if I think of movies I’ll letchy’all know:

1. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson [bought this and burned through it in Ireland… def a monumental book for me and 12/10 would recommend.]

2. Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey

3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

4. Four Seconds by Peter Bregman

5. How to Be Here by Rob Bell

6. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

7. G’morning & Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me and You by Lin Manuel Miranda, illustrated by Jonny Sun

What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
The coffee. Walking into work and seeing smiles of the people I love working with. The greeting of my own dogs and the dog of my roommate. The naps! My daily, deafening jam to classic rock in the mornings on my way to class,

What cool things did you create this year?
– A video promo for a new learning technology within my workplace!
– A pretty enthusiastic personal brand aesthetic
– Promotional postcards for our campus ministry
– A professionally recorded song to accompany a university module for Ethical Reasoning
– A website that gives information/background to the issue of Food Waste in local communities in Galway, Ireland
– A lovely branded hypothetical design content solution for a local-farm-to-table food delivery co-op
– A cool music video featuring/promoting the patients and staff of a local Health Care/Rehab center in my university town
– an updated portfolio with some updated portfolio pieces!
– some new logos for some clientsssss woo!

What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
I would say a mix between excited and stressed. Manic, almost sometimes. LOL
Come to think of it, I spent way too much time being stressed this year. Time to just sit back for a bit sometimes, and take it *E A S I E R* sheesh.

Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?

  • See Brendon Urie in concert!!!!
  • Used a dating app [with some nightmarish, some wonderful, some bizarre results]
  • Studied abroad/visit Ireland! (fly internationally alone, etc…that whole trip was LOADED with firsts!)
  • found a $100 bill on the floor of a bar LOL
  • designed a program for / attended a Mindfulness in Higher Education conference
  • Use false lashes! [they’re all the rage for evenings out in Ireland and I wanted to try them!]
  • Went camping in the pouring rain!
  • Visited a gin distillery!
  • Dyed my hair a crazy blue teal at the recommendation of one of my treasured and adventurous friends <3. Working on a progress vid for it, actually!
  • Got in a minor car accident [literally like 2 days before I finished this post– didn’t think I’d be adding this one on here but ): here we are…]
  • Applied to jobs [!!!] wow, shit’s real now!

What was your favorite moment spent with your friends?
I can’t name just a favorite– so I’ll stick with the top 3:

My 22nd birthday celebration
Seeing Panic! at the Disco in concert
all of the film-related things I’ve gotten to see with friends/roomies!!

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

  • Ireland!
  • Weekly workouts!
  • obtaining student loans [w/o a cosigner!!! it’s possible y’all] I may write a post about this later, actually!!
  • pursuing a Service Year in Seattle
  • recruiting the heck out of freshmen for our campus ministry [with much success!! (,:]
  • de-cluttering & downsizing my living space!

Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?

  • Having enough $$ to cover tuition for fall/spring
  • fearing that I would miss my international flights
  • Insecurities about myself and my abilities as detailed by other people ahah

What experience would you love to do all over again?
Ireland. Hands down. Such a loaded, rich, and eye-opening experience, and I did my best to document the *shit* out of it, all here:

What was the best gift you received?
Gonna drop everything and be wholesome for a sec… but the best gift I received this year, by far, has to be the friendships I’ve come to know and love and cherish. Y’all know who you are and DAMN I am *SO* so lucky. Coming in 2nd would be the blessed donations of coffee over the past 12 months by friends and fam ❤  (:

How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
I think it has only positively improved, and I’m so thankful for this constant evolution of my outlook through time. I think about years past where, in a hard time, it’s been so quick to say that everything is terrible and that everything sucks, that I will never find love or happiness and blah blah blah when that is SIMPLY not TRUE! My goodness. If there’s anything this year taught me, it’s this brighter outlook. That there continue to be people who WILL love and cherish you, and put effort into doing so. There are so many places to explore and things to do. There exists so much beauty in the mundane, and part of seeing it is appreciating it. That life is short, time is fleeting, and if you have something to say you better say it, before it is too late. That true friends are hard to come by, so when you find them, fight for them. Hold on to them. Tell them you love and support them and that you’re thankful for them every day.

What was the biggest problem you solved?
HMMMM I’m torn between somewhat conquering the constant struggle/battle of balancing my bank account and managing my time [I had to say “no” to a few things this year because, much to my chagrin, I definitely *cannot* do it all, despite my desire to.], and then literally duct-taping/tying the front bumper of my car back on. I may or may not have used my engine oil stick to “thread” the rope through the inner workings of my engine but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

that’s life, shoulda been an engineer, I guess.

What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
Looking back… there’s so much but one sticks out in particular– I was leaving my old apartment for summer break, and I’d asked if I could leave a piece of furniture behind at my friend’s apartment, as she was staying there for the summer and had room I didn’t have. In the process of moving said piece of furniture into her house, a bird flew in her front door and there is video footage of me chasing the bird around the living room, trying to get it out. My good friend and I *D I E D* laughing and she just has to start the first few seconds of the vid to get me cackling [and even as I write this I can’t help but smile].

What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
My MacBook Air! Purchased it literally *the day before* leaving the country to study abroad and it has made my life… indescribably easier. So portable, so convenient with the software I need, so sleek, so light— no cables to fuss with like I did with my desktop and tower for *years* of my college experience. A bit pricey but I feel as if it’s paid itself off twofold.

What’s one thing would you do differently and why?
I would put a damper on my spontaneity [where appropriate] as well as my tendency to make rash decisions. I would say “no” more consistently, investigate true intent more thoroughly, and spend more time living in the present and not drowning in worry or anxiousness for what is [or isn’t] to come.

What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Not failing my philosophy course in symbolic logic. I swear to goodness. Between a rather annoying professor and content I was ill-prepared for [apparently there were 2 pre-requisites for the class that I hadn’t taken and somehow still was able to take the class…??], I am proud of the grade I took away from that class. But I think it goes beyond the grade, too. That content slapped me in the face and there were many times I had to sit down with it for hours and force myself to do it over and over again until I understood it. That class taught me to take ownership of my needs [to over-compensate when studying], and to not be afraid AT ALL to ask many, many questions in the middle of class to seek the clarification I needed, instead of just brushing it under the rug and moving on like I knew what was going on when perhaps I didn’t.

What activities made you lose track of time?
Spending time with friends, editing video footage for a community member, designing for fun, cooking,

What did you think about more than anything else?
Hate to say it, but finances. It was a really hard year and though I made some good strides in terms of trying to get my shit together, there’s still plenty to do. Let’s just say I can’t *wait* to make that a d u l t  m o n aaayyyyyy $$$! 2nd in line would have to be myself, and my ongoing struggle to get the work-balance thing right. There’s a lot going on, and I just have to stick with it, create routines that work for *me*, and ask for help when I need it.

What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
The entirety of my New Media & Society class — how we as humans interact with & create & use and perpetuate new technologies, how it impacts our institutions, the price we’re paying for it (monetarily and otherwise), privacy concerns…. you name it. Such a monstrous, fascinating [and slightly depressing!] topic that’s really opened my eyes to my digital hygiene and what I need/want to alter in the coming year.

[FREE PRO TIPS real quick tho so you can start right away:

1. Back up your system often onto external hard space!

2. Use a password generator [I use Dashlane presently, but thinking about making the switch to Bitwarden, an open-source alternative. Apparently, you can import from Dashlane too if you export as an unencrypted spreadsheet thing of some sort!?! cool]

3. Go into your privacy settings / location settings on your mobile device and wipe that shit clean often

4. Throw your Google Home and/or Alexa *AWAY* [non-negotiable].

What new habits did you cultivate?
Good and bad, here we go:
– Going to the gym with my roomie 2x (sometimes more) times a week!
– Drinking a whole glass of water right after waking up (14/10 would recommend!)
– Integrating a gratitude practice atop my to-do list
– singing in the morning every morning on my way to school
– using tupperware, reusable straws and cups
– going to bed rather consistently
– reducing my tendency to be late to work/class [by a small, yet sizable percentage!]
– more consistently putting my phone on silent or airplane mode when necessary
– sending lots of memes to close friends
– keeping library books for too long >.<
– scrolling through instagram even after my “30 min limit” expires

What advice would you give your early-2019 self if you could?
Dear bright, bushy-eyed, early 2019 steph:

First of all, thank you. For being you. You have survived and you will survive. Even on your darkest days you have gotten out of bed and experienced the day. Sometimes, that’s enough. Be prepared! Hunker down! LoRDy change is coming, and you need to be ready, flexible, adaptable!! You have settled more into yourself and I love that– keep on keeping your sense of humour about you.

Slow the HECK down!! My goodness. You toggle between not worrying about anything [and not planning, and procrastinating, and saying “it’ll all come together somehow!”] and obsessively needing to know what the outcome will be. Be stiller. Your time will come, and it will make sense.

Speak up more often. I know it feels like, in the heat of it, like your mouth is glued and words will not come out but those are the moments when your words *do* need to come out. You can clarify, modify, and apologize as needed but please, when you need to say something, do not stay silent.

Do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to say no. You’ll get a lot better at it, I promise, but it still takes practice.

I see that you’re *still* procrastinating on your homework. I don’t know if there’s much I can say to convince you to do otherwise, especially because yourself right now knows that the homework-less, beautiful life-balance that comes with adult career life means that you will have freedom after 5pm… but try to do better, k? Also work on showing up to places on time LOL.

Take more time for yourself! Working out, reading, writing, blogging, doing things with friends– all those things that fill your heart and soul and life with joy? You need a heavy dose of that. You can sleep, slave over your GPA when you’re dead. [But sleep is important. Please continue valuing your sleep!]

Take more chances. Trust your instincts. Go on dates. Be open, up-front, forward and confident like you are. Be easy. Have faith. Be open to the possibilities, and trust the process.

Cherish your friends every day, hug often, give freely, and laugh as much as you can. Look forward, look past and/or smile at others who try to cringe-shame you, humiliate, or belittle you–such attempts are mirrors of their character. Besides, you have more important things to look after.

I know you are stubborn as fUNK and you literally chase what you want into the ground but… try, this year, to give it a rest. What you need will find you, and what you want will make itself clear. Trust that instinct, and show gratitude always.

Show love, always– regardless of the circumstance. Have faith. Be bold. Be brave. Seek truth, seek healing. You’ll be just fine.

all my love,

steph

Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
For sure. I’d be disappointed in myself if that weren’t the case. From relationship statuses, to realizing what I need and want for myself, to coping with loss/grief… it’s just shown me that all we really have is the moment we exist in *right* here, *right* now. Nothing past that is guaranteed.

What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
These may seem cliché– but it’s true– but going abroad with new experiences and a completely different environment was so *SO* good for reasons that I’m still uncovering still, quite honestly. There’s something to be said for 6 weeks *away*, anytime, anywhere. I’m not one to be too specific on here or delve into too much detail BUT. I feel as if the entirety of my most recent relationship had one of the biggest impacts on my life this year– it was a beautiful, overwhelming, and just… a really eye-opening, and positive look into what *can* be. What I want for myself, what I deserve, what love is, and what it certainly isn’t.  As if I were watching a metamorphosis form the outside, wrapped in friendship and warmth, good humor and patience, deep caring and understanding. An an endurance, a bravery, a bittersweet; to work through the hard, to speak up, to feel heard. For all of it, I am so, so thankful.

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 ♥

xx