Reflecting on 2017 - A Year of Growth

Credit to Levana Melamed for this beautiful photograph of a dear friend, from our wedding.

Credit to Levana Melamed for this beautiful photograph of a dear friend, from our wedding.

Hello friends -

Today is New Year's Eve Day, and I'm currently holed up in Erie, Pennsylvania, where my husband's family lives.  It also happens that they've gotten about seven feet of snow since Christmas.

I just came back from a run with my husband (3 miles, considering that it's our Christmas break and also that it is 10 degrees and snowing), and we used the short time to reflect on our year.  Boy, this year was a doozy.  It was beautiful, messy, challenging, rewarding - a complete year of growth personally and professionally.  Let's back up a bit...

In 2015 I moved to Boston, and in 2016 I felt like I conquered a new city.

Prior to this, I was still living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was also living at home with my parents (I am so grateful that they allowed me this time to live at home and not worry about finding an apartment immediately out of college).  It was about a year since I had graduated, and I felt really lost.  My boyfriend (now husband) was living in a different city than me, and it was really lonely and hard.  I was working at a job in Pittsburgh where I was not fulfilled professionally or personally, but I was toughing it out, because a job is a job, right?  

When I moved to Boston, I took the first true leap of faith in my life.  This may sound dramatic, but I think the years right after college are the most transformative: prior to this, most kids are on a set path (the reliable plan to go to school, get good grades, get into a good college, graduate with a job).  Fast forward through a week of packing up my life in the 'burgh, a 12 hour drive, and in June of 2015, I found myself in Boston. I was living with my significant other for the first time, and working at the same company where the pace, rigor, and expectations were greater than in Pittsburgh.  2015 was a hard year - although I'm what some would describe as an "outgoing introvert," I forced myself to say "yes" to every invitation and work increasing hours to meet the new demands at work.  I cried a lot.  I missed home and my family.  I expected things would be easier a month after moving, and this was completely unrealistic.  About a year later though, found myself feeling more comfortable in this new city I chose to call home, but most importantly immensely proud of the move I made and the risk I took.  2016 brought engagement, closer friends in a new city, and life was full.  

In 2017 I learned more about myself and experienced more personal and professional growth than any year prior.

I know I mentioned that the move to Boston came with increased expectations, hours, and rigor at my job.  Well, I didn't know what I was in for at the beginning of 2017.  By nature, I like to think I am a hard worker.  I'm a people pleaser at heart, and I try my best to get it right.  I'd worked in public accounting for four years at this point - meaning that every January brought the dreaded busy season, which required dedicating most of my waking hours to work from January through mid-April in 2017.  I didn't sleep much, I didn't see my fiancé, and I was bitter. In the midst of this, I was also planning a wedding (for June 2017). I burnt out. I worked more weekends in the Spring, on a different client. I wound up with tendonitis in my wrist. I knew in my heart that it was time for a pivotal career change, but I also had my wedding to focus my attention on, so any plans to find a new job were put on hold.

I got married in June of 2017 and it truly was the most magical day of my life.  The days leading up to the wedding were a blur of gold spray paint, picture frames, and packing.  If I were to do it all over again, I would take the full week prior to the wedding off (as we were planning from Boston)  but hey, you live and you learn.  The day was perfect - not to say that there were things that I noticed and would have changed - but truly none of that mattered. At all.  We were surrounded by such love from our families and friends, and I'll never forget that feeling (just like I'll never forget almost tipping off of the chair during the Hora). 

We were lucky enough to travel for our beautiful honeymoon (not to say that there weren't moments of stress, but I know that I'll look back on these fondly one day), but I knew in my back of my mind that I needed to get serious about finding a new job when we returned.  It's funny - finding a new job is part time job in and of itself, and I was a couple of months into the search and felt defeated.  I'm pretty stubborn (or maybe oblivious) and sometimes ignore obvious signs from the universe, but one day I called an old manager to ask for a job reference, and he asked me to come in for an interview.  The rest of the process unfolded quickly, and I started my new job in October of 2017.  

To be honest, the rest of 2017 is a bit of a blur of traveling to visit our friends and family.  In retrospect, 2017 took the wind out of my sails a bit.  For good, happy things (wedding and honeymoon, and new job), and for sad things too.  I learned that I need to start saying "no" more, despite my drive to please others.  I learned it's ok to just accept myself for who I am, and if that means wanting to stay in and watch a movie on both Friday and Saturday night, that's ok. It makes the moments going out into the world and exploring that much more full.  I learned that I don't need to force it.  I know myself enough to be aware that forcing something will ultimately lead to resentment and exhaustion (for me) - and that's ok too.  I learned that I want to do more outside of my office job, and it's okay to not have figured out exactly what that is yet.  I learned that there is always still time.  I'm still doing some trial and error, but I'm at least excited for the small step of starting a blog as a creative outlet.

I want to take the pressure off in 2018 and give myself more space for creativity.

In 2018, I want to find outlets that make me happy, outside of work.  For so long, work has been both my day-job and my hobby.  I want to find something that lights my fire - which may be as simple as finding a new wellness podcast, trying a new fitness class, or going out to play tennis again.  I want to live in the moment more in 2018 - in 2017 I kept looking forward to the next big thing (after we get married, we'll go on an amazing honeymoon, then I'll get a new job) and I think that can take the joy out of the simple day to day pleasures.  I want to focus more on the now. In 2018, I want to provide myself with a season of rest in these winter months that I have never had.  I want to recover from the messy/crazy/beautiful 2017 and spread my wings in the spring of 2018 with a renewed sense of purpose and inspiration.   And, in 2018 I want to feel more comfortable speaking my truth, even if it may not be what others (even close friends and family) want to hear.  I want to be more true to myself.

I like the fact that these goals are more abstract - I know myself, and I know that I'll put a lot of pressure on myself with very specific measurable goals.  I don't think that 2018 is the year for self-induced pressure, and I'm really excited for that.

Look forward to talking to you in the new year.