2021 has been one hell of a year, plain and simple. The past 12 months have been nothing like I was expecting, but when is it ever something we expect? We still live in a pandemic ridden world, just that within itself should be enough to make us scared for every new morning. But I think 2021 may just be one of my favorite years yet.
2021 began with new and fresh opportunities with no expectations of myself at the end of them. After the craziness that was 2020, I could only hope for a year better than the one before, and this year definitely delivered. I moved into a house filled with love and laughter and found 4 of the best friends I knew I would always be able to lean on. During spring semester (January through May), I began to find myself again, the me I knew who seemed to slip away during the previous year. I got vaccinated and life finally seemed to be getting back to what I remembered it being. I celebrated birthdays, engagements, and simply life with my friends. I soaked up my last few months in my sweet college town as I was officially accepted into my study abroad program. I dressed up in ballgowns with my friends for formal only to get absolutely soaked and stand under my dates jacket laughing as we impatiently waited for the buses. I watched many a baseball game with my grand-little in the new and improved stadium. I applied for internships and celebrated acceptance emails. I said goodbye to the home that made me believe in kindness again as I moved home for the summer.
May through September was a time of learning. I learned I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not in order to get the approval of those around me, because they wanted me just how I am. I learned I absolutely love getting dressed up for a job every day. I learned how much I can thrive off a scheduled day. I learned to let loose and have fun every once and a while, because you are only 21 for so long. I re-learned how to drive a jet ski and how to open my heart again. I learned that if I let fear control me, I would never experience life to the fullest. I learned that goodbyes aren’t forever, but a see you later is always a better option. These four months were full of busy schedules, information overload, new friends, and country car rides into the sunset.
But my favorite part of this year has to be the past three and a half months. Mid-September through December have to be the best months of this year if not my life up until this point. I don’t think much could top living in England and hopping all over Europe exploring new places each weekend. But it is more than just the trips we went on and the people I met; it was the girl who I became in that time. I started romanticizing my life, which wasn’t hard to do as each day was literally like waking up in a dream.
The me I found while abroad is a woman who I didn’t even know existed. She is more confident, more direct, and surer of what she wants in life. She takes the time to stop for a picture or video because why not? She doesn’t get embarrassed in public (as much), because when are you really going to see these people again? She speaks up for herself and those around her with a newfound confidence. She stepped into new life and did it with poise and certainty, taking on each day with her head held high. She graduated college without a single person from her university next to her. She celebrated every tiny victory with those around her but sometimes on her own.
I would however be remissed to tell you that I was nervous this new me was not going to make it back home with me. I thought maybe she was just the version of me that lived the dream life I want, my more confident and powerful alter ego. But she definitely is still a part of me even back in the States. It is harder though, to stay the confident, direct, and surer woman returning home to a place that is so familiar. It is especially hard when you are in a place that you have known your whole life. But maybe finding new adventures in a familiar place is just part of the fun.
So, to the girl who closes the chapter on another life, cheers to being this much closer to 2022. This year may not have looked as glamorous for you as it seems like it was for the people around you. And maybe it wasn’t, maybe 2021 was the hardest year you have encountered yet. If it was, I am so proud of you for pushing through each day and making it to the next one. The cool thing about New Year’s Eve is that you get to shed the old year off and prepare yourself for the next to come. I encourage you to be intentional as the new year approaches, think about what you really want out of 2022. Not what the new year can provide for you, but how you can become a better mom, daughter, sister, partner, or person during this new year. Just because the last digit of the calendar changes doesn’t make your life somehow magically better. It takes work and motivation and drive to make a change if you want it. So, be intentional about the new year as it approaches this weekend. Start thinking what exactly you want, maybe it’s a word to guide you through the year or maybe it’s something completely different. Pray, reflect, and use this time to prepare your heart for the new chapter we are about to step into.
See you in 2022!