Normally my reflections at the end of the year take place in my journal for no one to see. Lately, I have been getting more comfortable putting my thoughts and feelings out for the world to judge. I find that by doing this I gain more introspection on my thoughts and feedback from others that helps me grow. I am by no means an expert on life, but it has been so interesting to look back on how I’ve changed each year.
My year started out in a fairly new city. I had moved to Seattle in October and had few friends, as my roommate had gone back to Michigan. I started using apps and social media to make connections and develop a social life. I met my friends through Bumble BFF (a dating app that you can also use to find friends) and through them have made so many other great connections and have had the best adventures. My travel assignment ended, and I made the decision to take on a permanent position with a different company. It was my first time living alone since grad school. I had a modern 1-bedroom apartment to myself that I was able to spend time making feel like home. If that’s not enough “new”, I also began a relationship in January.
Leaving Michigan, my intention was to continuously take on travel assignments around the United States, avoiding winter. I remember my travel assignment end date approaching rapidly in early January and the feeling of panic as I felt I had barely scratched the surface of everything to experience in the Pacific Northwest. There was definitely some internal conflict as I decided to change my plans and to sign a year-long lease. I can 100% say I have no regrets about that decision. I did not expect to become so captivated by a city and its surroundings.
Life became comfortable. I have a love/hate mindset with becoming comfortable with anything. My job became routine (as routine as homecare can be). I had stable relationships and planned trips and events with people that I learned to know and care for. Summer felt the same as it did in Michigan; cramming as much as you can into the weekends while the nice weather lasted. Feeling mildly claustrophobic in a routine, I was able to alleviate some of this with outdoor adventuring. I was able to go camping at least 6 times and hiking almost every weekend. It has fueled my rather recent, but ever-growing passion for the outdoors. Absurdly beautiful mountain views became normal. My legs and body were comfortable with regular elevation gain of over 2,000 feet.
Going into the new year, my routine is becoming volatile. I recently moved into a new place with roommates and dogs. The same day I moved in, the landlord posted a notice to vacate within 90 days for the demolition of this beautiful home to become skinny apartment buildings. This has forced me into stressful decisions of deciding whether to sign a lease (can you tell I hate commitments?) or to pack up my car and say goodbye to Seattle for some time.
Leaving everything I knew behind in Michigan was a catalyst for rapid growth as a person. I have always felt that I am a confident person, but I have noticed some changes in my personality and way of thinking that have made me stronger yet.
Self Sufficiency. I have learned that I do not need a person to make me happy. That is not to say that people don’t make me happy, but that I have put in enough time for myself to know how to do that on my own. This mindset has done a lot for me in many aspects of my life. There is some negative light to this. I find I become so caught up in proving to myself and the world that I can do anything on my own that I often push out people that want to help. I have been labeled stubborn and selfish throughout past relationships. Maybe I am egocentric, but I am okay with being selfish right now. I have my dreams. I don’t really want to compromise on those yet (ever). It no longer gives me a twinge of panic when I see all the engagements around this time of year and the weddings in the summer. Accomplishing what I want to in life may result in never having that experience, and that is okay.
Appearance. Maybe it’s Seattle or personal growth, but I care significantly less about my appearance. Growing up in a small town and hitting the goodwill racks for “new” school clothes had created a thirst for material things and more expensive taste. In college I spent a lot of time and money learning makeup techniques and buying “nice” clothes. It was fun at the time and allowed me to be creative. I have reduced my closet size by about half and am continuously reducing. I can’t remember the last time I bought anything more than drug store mascara. I still try to look put together, but focus a lot more on practicality and functionality. I should create a shortcut for the text “I’m the blonde in jeans and a flannel”.
Relationships. I value friends and family much more than I used to. Many people would tell me “It’s not where you are, but who you are with”, and I would scoff at that. I’m finding more and more how true this is. It has been a learning experience for me to actively work to maintain relationships long distance. I took for granted the friendships I had in Michigan. After learning that balance, when I see friends it feels like no time has been lost. I am very fortunate to still have living grandparents on my mom’s side. They lived a mile down the road from me growing up. This dampened my appreciation for them. Now that I live on the other side of the country, I have invested more time in getting to know them and learning from them through weekly phone calls. I feel significantly closer to my grandparents than I ever have before and greatly appreciate the life advice they offer.
The Winds of Change
My passions and goals continue to change and evolve. Will I have the same idea of what I want in a year? Probably not. I don’t typically buy into horoscopes, but man did they nail me down with the Gemini description.
My goals for 2018 are in line with what I have been gravitating towards; creativity. After high school, I put on my blinders to get through my schooling to be an occupational therapist. I did not allow myself to delve into the arts that I always craved. It was too painful. I was told a successful career in the arts was a life too hard to obtain. Healthcare became my focus. It still makes me laugh how I ended up here, because if you know me at all – I am terrified of blood and pretty much any other bodily function/innards. I pass out on the reg in any hospital setting. On my hiatus wandering out to the west coast, creativity was bubbling over. I could no longer contain it and began dabbling in photography, writing, painting, and music again. The content I produce is by no means special or extra, but gosh is it liberating.
My sister is inspiring in this way. She didn’t shy away from a career in art after being told how challenging it is or about the burnout. Chelsea is thriving more than ever, and it is so rad to see. She has been so supportive in my journey in the arts.
If I could quit being a therapist and let the arts take me all over the world, would I? Yes. A thousand times, yes. But I was blessed (or cursed) with some rather intense logic. I’m at a turning point of figuring out how to survive while doing what gives me the most joy. I am no longer okay with “getting through” my daily work grind in order to explore creativity on the weekends. You need energy to be creative, and my current job leaves me with little to spare.
I’m hoping that by writing all this out and sharing it with the small community that reads what I have to say, maybe I’ll be held accountable to a degree. If I’m in the same spot with all of this in a year, there needs to be consequences. I know there will be a lot of highs and lows and I am ready for all of it. The journey to get somewhere and prove you can do what you set out to do is more rewarding than the end product of actually achieving your goal.
It upsets me when people become stagnant and reach a point of contentment with a life they often vocalize they do not like. I hope that through my public struggle towards my own goals, someone will be inspired to go out after their own. Thanks for listening, and bring on 2018!