Social media is going crazy with the usual end-of-year posts and time-for-resolutions bullshit. Facebook is even trying to cram a year of memories into a single video and completely failing to capture the absolute brilliance that is a year in the life of. I get it, another year is drawing to a close. Christmas has come and gone and 2017 is only a few days away. Of course this is a time for reflection and introspection and gratitude. But if I see another ‘2016 had me like’ meme I will scream. I am so sorry to anyone who truly had a rough year, I hope that the next 365 days bring you all that you have dreamed of, but I cannot and will not dim down the fact that this has been one of the biggest years of my life.
Last year I was given a beautiful dark grey and green Cape Storm backpack as a Christmas gift (greatest gift ever right? Yeah – my mom’s awesome like that). I was asked where I would take it and my answer was an immediate, excited, high-pitched everywhere! When I was asked to narrow that answer down a tad I decided that I would take it to Asia. There has always been something about Asia – the culture, the scenery, the way of life – that has enticed me. I had no specific when’s or where’s but I knew that I would figure it out eventually. An entire year has passed since that conversation and here I sit writing this blog in – drum roll please – Asia! And I am so damn proud of myself. Not only for having a dream and sticking to it, but for everything else that I have accomplished during the roller coaster ride that was 2016.
The last few months of 2015 were pretty rough for me. I was not in a good place – emotionally, financially, socially, existentially. I had no idea what I was doing or what I wanted to do. Suddenly I was no longer a student (which I had been for the past 17 years) and that freaked me out all the way down to my core. I had dreams but no plans. I felt so very lost and so very alone in my lost little world because everyone around me seemed to have their lives all figured out. They all had stable jobs, houses, upcoming weddings, etc etc. I was a waitress with a Psychology degree that seemed to be taking me nowhere. I had poured my blood, sweat and tears into 5 years of academics and internships and I had nothing to show for it except a piece of paper and a pipe dream. I was 24 years old and still living at home. I was partying too much. I was losing friends. I was slowly losing sight of that great potential that I once thought I had. But, sitting in a tiny café overlooking lake Malawi, I had made a promise to myself that I would not let 2016 be anything less than extraordinary. I was not about to break that promise.
My idea of an extraordinary year included going on adventures and travelling and experiencing new things. Basically, not settling for average or ordinary or mundane. I wanted to figure out what this thing called life really means to me. I wanted to find and pursue my passions. I wanted belly-aching laughter, no holds barred fun. I can shout out to the world that I have done, and I am still doing, all of these things! One thing that didn’t go as planned: I expected to venture into, and dominate, 2016 as a single woman. I did not expect to meet someone who I would fall head over heels in love with. That added a new dynamic into the mix!
This year has been filled to the brim with adventure, fun, risks, love, and personal growth. Ultimately it was the year of firsts. Oh so many firsts. From the little things like riding a scooter for the first time, to the big things like travelling abroad for the first time and my first birthday and Christmas away from home. From baking my first home made pie without my moms help, to my first teaching job. From starting a blog, to renting my first apartment. From exploring countless hiking trails and camping sites with my very handsome partner in crime, to my first long-distance relationship.From going to my first Ultra festival, to receiving my official practice number from the Health Professions Council of South Africa. From talking to a monk on a bus and swimming with elephants, to standing next to my sister as she said “I do”. I have stored away a plethora of memories that I can look back on with the utmost content.
Of course, there has been the bad with the good. There have been moments throughout all of this when life has been hard, lonely, or downright scary at times. There have been fights, there’s been analyzing my decisions, overcoming past hardships, questioning my competencies, and a lot of tears shed in between. But (even with the bouts of fear and loneliness and existential crises), looking back on the past 12 months, I can honestly say that I kept my promise. It has been an extraordinary year. I have a few people to thank for that – the people who were always there as well as the people who showed up during the course of the year and added their individual doses of magic. I hope you all know who you are. I hope you know I appreciate you.
Most of all though, I can look in the mirror and say thank you to the person staring back at me. And that… that is my greatest achievement to date.
2016 started as an adventure and it will end as one. I look forward to 2017 with all the excitement that my little heart can muster, because I finally know what I want my life to look like and I am taking steps with my special someone to turn all of those plans into reality. (Stay tuned to follow us on our upcoming globe-trotting.)
My wish for anyone reading this is that you too have found your passions, whatever they may be, and that you find the courage to pursue them. Here’s to the next chapter – may it be epic!
P.s. I know that this post is seriously lacking in some photographic evidence. Tooooo many photographs, too little patience. I will add some soon!