Wow, what a year it has been. I think most of us can look back on 2016 and say, "Well, that sucked." Between the remarkably high number of deaths this year, that painful Presidential election, and all of the tragedies that occurred, it has certainly been a year with more downs than ups.
But as the year is coming to an end, I'm trying to ask myself - was it really a bad year? Or, was it just a year filled with (more than enough) life lessons and 3474658258 ways we can make 2017 a much better year. Here is my year in review and everything I learned from it:
1. I quit my dream job
That company I always wanted to work for ever since I was a little girl? Well, I worked there for two years, then I quit. The company's name alone carried with it such a prominent connotation like, "Wow, you work for them? That's so cool." I couldn't help but feel proud when I told people where I worked. But unfortunately, behind the scenes, all that sparkle wasn't as bright as it seemed to be on the surface.
Management was beyond awful, absurdly strict, extremely rude and inconsiderate. So of course, people began quitting left and right. I tried to hang on as long as I could but I just reached a breaking point, and on top of that, there was no room for growth. If you weren't a higher-ranked sales person, then you weren't making any livable type of income. So I left.
There is always something better out there. Even if it takes time and patience searching for it. Don't waste your time at a job that makes you miserable. Life is too short, and there are so many other opportunities out there - you just have to start looking.
2. I traveled to Chicago & went to a metal music festival
I've always been a fan of metal music, which most people find "fascinating" because I apparently don't look "hardcore enough" (which always makes me laugh. #stereotyping). So this summer, I traveled to Chicago for one of the biggest metal music festivals - the Chicago Open Air Festival. THREE days of metal music. It was truly amazing.
While I was in Chicago, I also went to Wrigley Field to watch a Cubs game, bought a cupcake out of an actual Cupcake ATM, took a yacht booze cruise out on Lake Michigan, went to the top of the 1,451-foot Willis Tower (108 stories tall), and quite simply, had the time of my life.
For those of you who don't already, you need to start traveling! There is a whole world out there for you to see, so start seeing it. I've only recently started traveling, and so far, each place I've visited has not only opened my eyes to new cultures and landscapes, but has also created incredible memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
3. I attended three funerals
2016 took with it so many amazing lives. I attended three funerals that each brought with them a wave of sadness and a new appreciation for life.
Death even took its toll in pop culture. We lost Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie, Arnold Palmer, Alan Thicke, Florence Henderson, Harper Lee, Pat Summitt, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds ... and that is seriously only naming a few because this list sadly goes on and on and on.
I still cannot believe the lives 2016 took with it. These deaths have taught me to enjoy life a little more, to be kinder, to spread love more often, and to appreciate the little things.
4. I completely switched career paths
For so long, I had this vision of my career path, and once I quit my job, I had to take a step back and reevaluate everything. I ultimately decided to go in a completely new direction, one that I knew would make me happy and successful.
However, it took me a while to adjust to this new career. Everything was different - my commute, my day-to-day tasks, the people, the atmosphere. It was really overwhelming. But once I began settling into my new job and routine, the more I started to love it. I even began keeping parts of my former career path in my life by doing that type of work on the side. This way, I have now created a nice balance and can be open to new opportunities.
Change is really hard, especially for people like me who overthink everything. Making a huge life change can be frightening and overwhelming, but you have to remember WHY you made the change in the first place. Once you push through and adjust, you will realize it may just be the best decision you've ever made.
5. My best friend moved to California
Karen. My best friend since we were little kids, and when I say little, I mean we met when we were like four years old. We were neighbors growing up and spent just about every day together. As we got older, our bond became stronger through the years.
This year, she moved to California to begin her life with her husband. I could not be more happy and supportive, but at the same time this was such a big adjustment. The person I was used to seeing whenever I wanted - we would walk right into each other's houses like they were our second homes, we would go for long car rides to the beach whenever we felt stressed, we would go out for dessert, or we would just lounge around and talk about life. Suddenly, she was all the way on the other side of the country.
Karen and I talk every day, and not just texting, we make time to call each other and catch up. The distance has truly taught me the meaning of friendship. If you genuinely care for someone, you make time for them and you stay in touch regardless of the distance. Now, whenever she comes to visit, it makes me appreciate our time together even more.
6. I got my first apartment and moved out of my childhood home
I've never felt so many emotions at once. Moving out of my childhood home was exciting, scary, stressful, sad, overwhelming and happy all rolled into one. It wasn't until we were fully moved into our new place, that I could finally start enjoying the home we created.
Moving is one of the most stressful endeavors. But when all is said and done, it is a great feeling of accomplishment. Make helpful to-do lists and supply checklists, take it a day at a time, and soon your place will feel like home.
7. My outlook on life has changed
I feel like I matured a lot this year. I don't know if it was because of all the death that hovered darkly over 2016, but my outlook on life certainly changed.
I began cherishing quality time with family and friends more, even reconnecting with those I may have lost touch with.
I put my foot down as to what I expect in relationships when it comes to respect as well as honesty.
I started caring less about petty drama, and instead, focusing more on caring about what matters in life - like love, family, friends, and creating memories.
I started having real conversations, not behind a screen or behind someone's back. I speak up and stand up for what's right.
I set goals for myself in the new year and plan to achieve them.
I try to smile more, travel more, love more, give more, and I will not waste this life, it is way too short.
Here's to 2017. I hope everyone is excited to close the book on 2016 and welcome in a fresh start.