For many people, January lends itself to being the time for reflection and planning. I’m no different when it comes to this. I enjoy planning and setting goals for the year ahead, but I also appreciate taking the time to look back on the last year. While I will be sharing my vision and goals for 2019, I wanted to take some time and space to look back at the past 12 months. In no particular order, here are the biggest game changers from 2018.
Moving to Colorado
Relocating out West was hands down the most transformative experience of 2018. At the end of 2017, I was exhausted, depressed, drained, and full of self doubt. I hated where I was living, I no longer felt confident in myself or my skills, and I was so miserable I didn’t really care anymore. Moving to Colorado was easily the best thing I did for myself last year, and I’m so grateful I took the chance on this change. I fell in love with the mountains and my own personal bearded wonder. I went to my first national park, and it sparked such an interest that Ryan and I are taking a road trip this summer to see 8 parks in 11 days. This move also taught me how to finally find fulfillment in something other than my work, and through that made me realize I will be pursuing a new career in 2019. I’ve never felt more invigorated or alive from my physical surroundings alone before, but standing (literally) on mountain tops gave me this feeling, and it’s one I have no intention of ever giving up again.
RD Round Two
2018 brought on the second half of my third year/first half of my fourth year working as a full time professional in Residence Life. While I never envisioned myself making a lateral move within this field, I’m very grateful that I did. I gained so much perspective on this field and how we operate, and ultimately it helped me realize that I don’t want to do this forever (at least for now). Coming out of Florida State, I was determined to be an RD for 3 years, apply for my first Area Coordinator or Assistant Director position, and start working my way up. Instead, I’m in my fourth year as an “entry level” professional, and I’ve become incredibly disillusioned with higher education as both a concept and as a profession. While I will forever think highly of some of the work that is being done on university campuses, the culture of student affairs is a battle I’ve realized I’m not interested in fighting any longer.
Leaving the Office On Time
I have struggled with overcommitting to my work ever since I was an RA. It was a bad habit that I brought with me into grad school, and I continued to carry it with me into my first years as a professional. However, this past year I vowed to do better because I deserved better. I used my sick time, I used all of my vacation days for the year, and I left the office by 5:00pm (most days, anyway). While there are seasons in the Res Life world that definitely forced me back into some of those old behaviors (training, opening, closing), my standard operating mode was one in which I continually strove to be better to myself when it came to my work. After learning what I learned from working for a supervisor who believed I did nothing right and consistently expected more without delivering herself, I decided to put myself first and to start saying no. And what do you know? Once I started, my work attitude, mindset, and performance all improved. Imagine that.
In 2017 I made the decision that I wanted to be in better fiscal shape. 2018 saw me finally creating a budget and beginning to get comfortable using it through weekly budget check ins. I made huge strides in getting rid of my credit card debt. My credit score went way up, and I felt more comfortable about what the future would look like for me financially. While I still have a really long way to go before I’ll be where I want to, I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made. It’s made me more confident in my ability to pay off all of my credit card debt by the end of 2019, and to set money aside for mine and Ryan’s wedding.
There’s no denying for me that Ryan was the second best part of 2018, only behind moving to Colorado. For a surface level explanation, I could just gush about how happy our relationship has made me, and how thrilled I am that we’re officially planning a forever together. But rather than doing that, I’ll just say that he proved a lot of my beliefs about dating, people, and myself wrong, and every day I’m incredibly grateful that the universe decided we were the perfect fit for each other. I’ve learned so much about love, giving, accepting, trying, forgiveness, and trust this year. Loving Ryan has made me a better human, and it’s allowed me to love others better. It’s also allowed me to love myself better, which is a skill that I desperately needed to improve.
2018 was amazing and terrifying and challenging and lonely and life-giving and iridescent. The habits and practices I learned in 2018 will be brought into this year as they were instrumental in my growth. 2018 healed me – it healed me in ways I didn’t know I needed to be healed. I came out of this past year more whole than I really know how to feel. It’s both weird and welcome. 2018 as a whole was 3 steps forward, 1 step back. Here’s to regaining that step, and continuing to move forward.