2016 – A Year to Remember

Have you ever looked back on your life and wondered how time went by so fast?  What about looking back and realizing that something you thought was weeks or months ago was actually only a couple days ago?  In the past week, I have caught myself thinking both of these things multiple times over.

I seem to think about this a lot, but time is such a weird concept.  I mean, who in the world decided how hours and seconds and days and months and years worked?  Why does it have to work the way it does?  Who decided that daylight savings time had to exist and why doesn’t it exist everywhere?  Time is just such a relative concept and sometimes it hurts my brain to think about it.

All that to say; as I sit in my bed, writing this, and look back on the past 12 months, I get the biggest smile on my face.  So many AMAZING things have happened!  From simple things such as sentimental moments with my family, to traveling the world and meeting my favorite band.  Words cannot begin to explain just how happy I am that I get to have these memories.

Thinking about it, it seems crazy that what happened at the beginning of the year actually occurred in 2016.  I feel like the person I was at the beginning of the year no longer exists and she is a distant memory.  She was someone who thought that it was normal and ok to be harassed within the workplace.  I would let people walk all over me and they got to choose how I felt about certain situations.  I couldn’t assert myself and stand up for myself anywhere, and I was such a kid.  Granted, I still love to be a kid at times, but I also got to start adulting even more and I am proud of myself for what I have accomplished this year.

I grew a lot as an individual.  I’ve started to figure out who I am and what makes me tick.  I am starting to learn how to take care of myself instead of pushing my needs to the back burner constantly.  I have learned how to be more social, more understanding, and that I can’t be perfect, no matter how hard I try.

Beyond what changed me mentally, a lot of “physical” things happened as well.  By physical, I don’t necessarily mean my looks or anything like that (although I have changed my hair color a few times this year).  I mean these things happened and other people were involved or I have proof of these things happening with pictures.

The first thing I want to highlight about this year was right around my birthday.  As we have established in many blog posts before, Pentatonix is my favorite band.  Two of the members of Pentatonix, Scott and Mitch, have their own youtube channel called Superfruit.  A week before my birthday they were doing a question and answer video and I submitted one lonely question, in hopes that it would be picked.

img_3015 I remember taking a screenshot of my phone, just hoping that my question would be picked.  I had one of those feelings where you just know something good is going to happen.  You know the feeling?  When you just start smiling for no reason, your heart starts beating a little faster, and you may even get a little nervous because you are afraid your hopes are getting too high.

Thankfully, I did not hope in vain.  The next day, I got the alert that they had posted their new video while I was sitting in my philosophy class.  It has never been more difficult for me to stay and listen to the lecture than it was that day.

I remember the moment I actually watched the video for the first time.  I was in between school and job #2 and was grabbing lunch on the way there.  I went to Checkers and as I was waiting in line to get my food.  I watched the video.  The first time I heard them say my name and read my question, I was in shock.  Tears came to my eyes and, keep in mind, I wasn’t really part of the fandom yet.  I knew who Pentatonix was and what their music was like, but I was not a full-blown Pentaholic just yet.  I vividly remember watching that video multiple times that day.  I recorded the portion they sang to me and posted it on every social media account I had.  If you want to watch the video, here it is: (they sang happy birthday to me a little over the 1 minute mark)

As special as that was, the next week when my actual birthday came around, was so much better.  I really wasn’t sure what to expect, and I’m not entirely sure why.  I hadn’t (and still haven’t) moved away from home, and it was a day when I knew I would be seeing many people; yet, I thought for some reason my birthday would blow over like it was no big deal.  Fortunately, I was very mistaken.  I got so many notes from friends that are living far away, so many people at church came up to me and said happy birthday, and I just felt loved.

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I mean, everyone wants to feel loved.  But, I am a deeply insecure person.  I’m not always sure where I stand with people.  I even get wary about my best friends and family sometimes (it’s a perfectionist mind thing).  For example, a friend and I may not speak for a period of time.  I can almost guarantee the reason we haven’t been talking is because we are both so busy that we just forget to have conversations.  For me though, if my brain is not in the right state of mind, I automatically analyze everything I have ever done and what could have been wrong.  I then assume that they are probably annoyed with me or ignoring me for whatever reason and then wonder if we are still friends, or if I should just ignore them as well.  You can only imagine what this can do to friendships I have.  With that all in mind, I really wasn’t sure if my friends would remember my birthday, or if they did, if they would even speak up and say anything.  Thankfully, my friends proved me, and my brain, wrong.

Next on the long list of amazing things that happened in 2016 is the fact that I started taking road trips without family.  I took a couple short ones in the spring to go and see img_3183friends at school and that was honestly some of the most freeing experiences of my life.  I got my first taste of “being on my own” even though I didn’t have any extra bills or really that much time away from home.  However, I do remember there being a night while I was gone and I thought to myself, “I’m ready for this”.  I know, that’s really simple and may be a little naive, but, that was a moment that filled me with a lot of peace.

After a crazy, hectic, 18-credit, 2 job, girls retreat planning semester, I jumped right into, quite possibly, the best summer ever.  It started with, yet again, another road trip to see friends as they finished out their semesters and then went straight to girls retreat.  Girls retreat is something that my sisters and I have planned for the past 3 years now.  We plan it for girls in our church with the goal of empowering them to be more confident in themselves and help them find their identity in Jesus.

Although girls retreat was amazing, I remember it being something that I couldn’t wait to get over.  I didn’t feel prepared for this year’s retreat at all and my teaching was weak at best.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was (and still am) battling major depressive disorder.  I remember just thinking I was lazy and unfit for the job anymore.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “Didn’t you say at the beginning of this post that when you look back on this year you just get happy?”  The answer is yes, I definitely do.  But I also remember in the back of my head that this year has also been tough for me in the mental health department.  And those tough moments have helped the good moments shine, hence why those moments should be highlighted as well.

Next on the long list of highlights this year was the trip to Europe.  Although I have 79b9c-img_3477written extensively about this already, I had to make sure I kept it on this list.  That week was a week where I realized that I was deeply unhappy where I was back at home and that I needed to change something.  Along with all of the amazing experiences I got to live (read about those in my #LondonLove and #PerfectParis posts) I realized that, eventually, my life didn’t have to be just working in a pizza shop.

What’s crazy about this, is this was still just the beginning of the best summer ever.  A few weeks after I returned from Europe, I started nannying for a family from my church.  That was by far the best job I have ever had.  Yes, it was early mornings every single (week) day, but it was definitely worth it.  I got to bring these kids to the park, the swimming pool, and just share life with them and I absolutely loved it.

During this crazy time, I also got the chance to go to Disney World with my family.  In all honesty, it wasn’t our favorite week away from home, but I still love Disney and the fact that I had the chance to go there again was amazing.  Of course, I knew coming home this time was also going to be much different because I got to come back to nannying.

In August, my family took a road trip out to Wisconsin to see our family.  I look forward to these trips yearly.  Just having time to relax and enjoy catching up with family is something that I will always cherish.  It is hard to explain the feeling I get when I go back there and get hugs from all my great aunts and uncles.  I feel at home and I feel at peace with the world.

img_4021Giving up summer was very difficult this year.  With all of the traveling and the dream job, I didn’t know if anything could top that.  And then, the fall semester started.  It’s odd, because even though I had mostly required core classes this semester, I loved all of them.  I was learning a lot, had professors that knew what they were talking about and made the material interesting, and genuinely wanted to be in school.

In September, my western civilizations class took a day trip down to Chicago and, let me tell you, Chicago is one of my favorite cities to be in.  Although we were there for a history assignment, I absolutely loved the trip.

October came and went so quickly; I barely remember going to school during that month!  Then came November.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Because I am thinking, how in the world do I still have more to add to this list?  I was so blessed this year, it’s crazy.

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However, November came and I had been looking forward to this since February.    In this month, I met my favorite band, went to their concert, met a close second in my favorite bands, attended their concert as well (although technically, those were the same concert) and got to go and meet Nicole in person.  I wrote about meeting Pentatonix and Us the Duo here and I wrote about Nicole in For Good if you are wondering who I am referring to.

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I don’t even know how December went by as fast as it did.  All I can tell you is I have never felt more loved and supported in my entire life.  I  would randomly get texts from family and friends just to check up on me.  I just have to give a shout out to them because I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better support system.

They all killed Christmas this year too.  A lot of presents this year had to do with sentimental things and the fact that I will be moving out in the next year.  I really loved all of them because 1)I know how long some of those things take and for that amount of time and effort to be put into my gifts is crazy and 2)even when I feel like no one gets me, they proved that they most definitely do. I know I am always loved by them, even if it’s hard for me to remember at times.

Now, I am a little sad to see 2016 go.  It was such an amazing year with so many opportunities.  I honestly don’t know what 2017 holds and that scares me.  I know whatever it holds though, I have people here supporting me through it all.  God put these people in my life for me to know that even when I feel like I can’t trust Him, He still has my back.

Until next time my friends,

Aly

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