hello 2018, goodbye 2017

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It's safe to say that I tumbled into the new year, considering I fell down some stairs at one of my favorite Cleveland bars (twice) just hours before midnight on New Year's Eve. But I made it through one of the most physically and emotionally demanding years of my life, and now I literally have some scrapes and bruises to prove it. Oh well. Pantone declared Ultra Violet as the color of 2018, anyway. I'm just accessorizing a bit early, thanks to heels and tequila.

One Monday in late October, I was sitting in my last class of the day, listening to my professor go on and on about road narratives for the tenth week in a row, when suddenly my phone screen came to life. I had an email notification, and the sender's name made my heart pound. It took everything in me not to cry when I read the email. I landed an internship at a magazine, one that I had to wait a year to apply for because I wasn't qualified enough when I first found out about it. A warm, giddy feeling washed over me, one that I hadn't felt since high school.

Music has more or less carried me through this year. From my countless excursions on public transportation, my walks to and from class, work, or my dorm, in the car with my friends. The day I found out about the internship, I walked out of class with a huge smile on face, headphones in, and I opened Spotify. I typed "Frank Sinatra" in the search bar, and my index finger tapped "My Way". Sinatra's smooth, classic voice accompanied me on my walk through my city, and before I knew it, my eyes were watering. While "My Way" is considered to be a "death song" and the subject is looking back on his life, I found some of the lyrics comforting. Sure, being in my early twenties is probably too soon to be looking back on my experiences, because there is so much more left to do, more mistakes that are going to be made, and lessons to be learned, but listening to that Sinatra song pulled at my heartstrings.

"I've loved, I've laughed and cried

I've had my fill, my fair share of losing

And now, as tears subside

I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that

And may I say - not in a shy way

Oh no, oh no, not me

I did it my way"

That's how I feel about 2017 - I did it my way. I started the year in anguish, trying my hardest to hang onto someone who stopped being within my reach. I was someone I could barely recognize, and I no longer had a real sense of my own worth. By spring, everything stopped being about moving on from a relationship. It became moving on from the person I became while in that relationship. All I wanted was to feel connected to someone, to be comforted, to be validated, and when I wasn't getting the support I thought I needed, I would lash out, which resulted in an unhealthy cycle. So I put myself to work, in all areas of my life. I needed to let go of the entitlement I still had in me - the selfish thoughts of being entitled to kindness because bad things had happened to me. I learned that not everything requires a reaction. I learned more about forgiveness. I learned that I'm under no obligation to explain myself to people who invalidate me, my experiences, and my feelings. I learned that there are different kinds of love besides romantic love that are just as if not more beautiful and meaningful, and that they are very much alive in my life. Some of the connections I formed with other people this year were short-lived, but despite what I lost, I gained some pretty great, fun human beings in my life in the form of classmates and coworkers.

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My goal for 2017 was to work my way to the woman I needed to be, and compared to last January, I've made significant progress. I've had friends and relatives tell me that they've noticed a huge change in me, and my mental health, which means a lot. It's never too late or too early to work on yourself. In my first blog post of 2017, I wrote about mastering the art of self-love, and how I wanted to have the same level of confidence I present in my writing. In the last few months of the year, I really felt as though I accomplished that. I started allowing myself to be unapologetic about being who I am. There were times I looked at my reflection in the mirror in passing or just before going out, and thought "Who are you? Where have you been all this time?"

While I had some setbacks, I consider the past year to be one of the most rewarding I've ever had. I worked a lot, I fell in and out of love more than once, I got to go to New York and paid for the entire trip on my own, I attended my first writing conference, moved into a new place, picked up where I left off at a new school and finally felt a real sense of belonging within my department. I turned 21, and got to see some of my favorite comedians (Jen Kirkman and David Sedaris) live. I landed an internship that I dreamed about for a year. I got to spend Christmas with my dad for the first time in a decade.

For my journalism class last semester, we each had to pick a beat to follow in Cleveland, and I chose Cleveland's growing literary community. I spent the last two weeks of the semester scheduling interviews and either walked or took the bus to meet my interview subjects. I got to meet some pretty remarkable, cool people who share the passions as me, and it's nice knowing they care about making Cleveland a more vibrant, inclusive literary city, and even nicer knowing that I can participate as a writer and citizen simultaneously.

Although I accomplished a lot this past year, I still owe it to myself to be better in 2018. Better at taking care of myself, being responsible with my finances, and just being a better person in regards to how I feel about myself, and how I treat other people. But just like I did in 2017, I'm going to stay true to myself no matter what I encounter.

Happy New Year. Reflect, revise, repeat.

Show me what you got, 2018.