Happiness

2018 Highlights Recap

I make a lot of goal lists. Tracking them brings me immense satisfaction. But I don’t make a lot of accomplishment lists. In other words, I rarely make the “tada” list, instead of the “to do” list.

My 2018 was a great year all around. It had ups and downs, as all years do, but it was an incredible year of growth and opportunity, of finding my personal commandments and living by them and seeing that rewarded in the opportunities that came to me.

In 2018:

A scholarly book was published that cited my academic work. An accompanying art exhibit also cited my academic work. When my parents purchased a copy of the book and asked the editor to sign it (Yes, they’re amazing and embarrassing, and I adore them), the editor knew of my work. All that research and energy and fascination about a topic had panned out to be bigger than just a thesis getting dusty in an archive somewhere.

I had over 1,000 hits on my website within a month for the first time… Then it happened twice more. I had to take a hiatus from the blog during a stressful time of interviewing and apartment hunting and side gig-ing. But I’m back at the blogging, and on track to have 2,000 hits this month. Sure, it’s mostly traffic looking for my Bachelor brackets, but I’ll take a little bit of credit for developing my SEO skills.

Casually mentioned in the above paragraph, I got a new job. I was looking for a place where I could grow and develop in an environment that respected the skills of its employees and empowered them to act for the good of the company. I had a few pretty great interviews, including being one of the final two for a very competitive position out-of-state at what would’ve been my dream job. But, alas, it was not to be. A month later, an awesome position practically fell into my lap. It has already enabled me to grow my skillsets immensely in a collaborative and healthy environment while challenging me to act with autonomy. It doesn’t hurt that it pays better, so I can finally try to knock out those student loans and save up for a place of my own.

One of my failed job interviews led to some exciting freelance work. With my interest in personal finance and my background in travel, I interviewed for a writing position with NerdWallet. I didn’t get that position either, but now I’m a regular contributor to their airline credit cards and points blog.

One of the ways I was able to contribute to NerdWallet is by learning to game the airline miles system to get status and free flights on airlines. In 2018 I used my knowledge to develop a little bank of miles that were intended for an international 30th birthday trip I have to push back a bit due to life circumstances.

My 2018 travels were not as exotic as the ones I’m imagining for my next few years. But they were still incredible. I didn’t fly into any new airports this year, but I had many new and wonderful experiences. Twice I spent time in Washington, D.C. for an amazing friend’s beautiful wedding. I flew into California with my parents to cross items off my bucketlist and enjoy delicious Sonoma wines. I experienced the whirlwind of New York City for the first time as an adult, traveling with another amazing friend and reconnecting with others.

My year was also one of finding the beauty of coincidence. It was stopping at a winery near Paso Robles solely because I liked the design and meeting the person on the Fulbright committee who had selected me for that life-changing year in Poland. It was listening to that whisper that says something is or isn’t right. It was trusting my intuition and trying to leave my overthinking nature at the door–at least sometimes.

A “down” moment of 2018 was a rapidly worsening living situation. But a resounding life philosophy of 2018–for my job, my apartment, my relationships, etc.–was “If you aren’t happy, change the situation or change yourself.” My former living situation was at the point where I could no longer convince myself to be happy there. As an introverted person, I get a lot of energy and renewal from being in a calm environment surrounded by things I love…which I could no longer do… So I moved. And it’s also been wonderful.

On the family front, my mom’s family reunited to celebrate the life of my grandmother. I flew home from D.C. the day my grandmother passed. I went to her room straight from the airport and spent quiet moments at her bedside hours before she moved on.

On the friend front, I’ve strengthened relationships with so many amazing people. It’s easy to grow apart as adults. It’s harder to grow together. Friendship involves sacrifice and commitment and compromise. Usually, when you’re doing it right, you don’t even realize that’s what you’re doing. I can count more friends each year, and more important than the number, I consider them to be strong, non-frivolous relationships. Sometimes I look at my beautiful, talented, intelligent group of friends and wonder how I managed to trick each and every one of them into liking me too.

In general this year I have avoided the boring, from dyeing my hair fun colors to jumping out of a plane. I am so grateful for what 2018 brought me–the people, the opportunities, the development. I’m also proud of what I brought to 2018, and what I plan to keep doing in 2019.

What were some of your 2018 highlights?

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