Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 | Rewind

2017 was a year I could have never predicted. It began as a total blank slate -- I had just graduated from university a mere two weeks prior, and the only thing on my schedule was finishing an internship at a refugee resettlement agency that ran through the spring. I had planned to start right into a full-time job, but God had other plans. I spent the rest of the year jobless, or at least, full-time job-less. I temporarily moved up to Washington D.C. for a summer internship. I moved back to Raleigh in the fall to continue job searching, but despite my lack of progress until December, the autumnal months were some of the most fulfilling I've had. I found people my own age at my church and felt like I was finally once again able to make deep connections with people, something I missed during the summer. I spent more time writing; I wrote long articles for sites other than my own and made more online connections. 2017 brought trips I never expected, experiences I never anticipated, and jobs I never dreamed of. Below I've highlighted the best of each month and some of my favorite posts... 

Favorite post from the month // Washington D.C.
January set the tone for much on the rest of the year -- plenty of reading and lots of travels (both local and further away), including a trip to Washington D.C. (and some of its surrounding cities) which, though it had been six years since my last visit, turned out to be my most visited city this year (five trips in total). Side note: Looking back through old posts from the month, I'm laughing at my final paragraph in this one, as I clearly had no idea what was in store for me the rest of the year.

Favorite post from the month // Breaking Out of the University Mindset
Aside from a weekend ski trip to the mountains of West Virginia, I stayed more local in February, with day outings to nearby locations like Pittsboro and the Historic Oakwood neighborhood of Raleigh, as well as a warm spring weekend spent sampling the best of local coffee.

Favorite post from the month // Charleston, Part I
March was perhaps my favorite month of the whole year. The first weekend was spent exploring some of my favorite things in Raleigh -- the museums, the food, the music. Though I no longer have a spring break, I took the time to make two somewhat last minute trips: the first to Nags Head with a couple old friends and the second to Charleston with my mom (here, here, and here). I also had the chance to (finally) see two of my favorite bands -- Cold War Kids and Flogging Molly -- perform after years of missing their shows.

After traveling around my state and slightly beyond during March, April was a busy month spent in Raleigh. Each weekend meant something new, from visiting new art museum exhibits to winning VIP tickets to a beer festival, a trip to a nearby arboretum, and reminiscing on college days.

Favorite post from the month // Carrboro, NC
May was my final full month in Raleigh until the end of the summer, and it was a month spent in gardens -- the Bog Garden in Greensboro, the Azalea Garden at WRAL, the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, the museum park at NCMA, and the Raleigh Rose Garden at Raleigh Little Theatre. I also hunted for murals in Carrboro, drove to Summerfield for a friend's wedding, and walked up and down Fayetteville Street in DTR for Artsplosure.

Favorite post from the month // Monumental Days
The week overlapping the end of May and the beginning of June was spent on an annual beach trip to Emerald Isle with my family and second family. The beach trip functioned as a North Carolina sendoff, as I then made my way to D.C. for a summer internship with Meals on Wheels.

Favorite post from the month // An Evening With Neil Gaiman
Most of my free time during my summer in D.C. was spent exploring all the best (and free) that D.C. had to offer, such as the American Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art. I additionally had the chance to enjoy and commemorate several authors, including remembering Jane Austen's legacy, seeing Neil Gaiman read some of his work out loud, and reviewing Hannah's debut poetry anthology.

Favorite post from the month // A Sister Weekend in D.C.
I finished up my summer internship in D.C. and returned to Raleigh, but not before making the most of my time left by revisiting Georgetown, one of my favorite areas of D.C., and entertaining my sister for a weekend visit.

Favorite post from the month // Hirshhorn + Newseum
After a thrill of a summer away, returning home felt a little ordinary and as such, I didn't share much in the way of writing (though I share a surprise weekend back in D.C., a day in Chapel Hill, and hiking at Eno River State Park on Instagram). Additionally, I read a LOT of good books.

Favorite post from the month // A Foggy Weekend on Grandfather Mountain
After the relative mediocrity of the previous few months, October was full of exciting weekends: one spent hiking at Grandfather Mountain and another relaxing on Ocean Isle. I also turned 23 this month -- an unexciting age on paper but in actuality has turned out to be one of my better ages. I also wrote my most popular post during this month, with 10 tips on how to read more.

November was a month of making fun plans with friends, writing several posts I'm proud of (and publishing them elsewhere), and traveling to exciting places. I spent several Friday nights trying new breweries in the area with some new girlfriends. I published a piece on adult friendships on Into the Fold and a Washington D.C. guide on Atlas Addict (both linked here), as well as a re-introduction after 4.5 years of blogging. Perhaps the most exciting event of the month was traveling to Rome with my family for Thanksgiving (covered here, here, and here).

December was spent attempting to take stock of what happened in 2017 and preparing for the upcoming year, as I'll soon by starting a new job in a new city. In the meantime, however, I narrowed down and shared my favorites of 2017: top 10 books6 movies + 6 television shows, and 6 albums (I'm bad at narrowing things down).

I set 11 goals for 2017 and managed to accomplish most of them, if just in part (completed items are bolded):
  • get a job // Done, though accomplished later in the year than I'd initially thought. I start next week!
  • be more mindful of my impact on the environment // I didn't do so well at this one, though I was better about not using plastic shopping bags.
  • eat more meat-free meals // I didn't do so well at this one either.
  • be a more ethical consumer // Due to my lack of free-flowing funds, I didn't buy much clothing this year, and the items I did purchase primarily came from secondhand stores. Additionally, all of my Christmas presents for family members came from ethically transparent companies.
  • put a portion of every paycheck into my savings
  • travel outside the country // Rome, Italy for Thanksgiving
  • read all of Agatha Christie'Hercules Poirot and Miss Marple novels // Finished all of the Miss Marple books but not all of the Hercules Poirot
  • expand writing portfolio by contributing to other blogs + magazines // I contributed to online mags such as Pop To It and Into the Fold, and continued to write for Atlas Addict.
  • learn how to make my favourite cocktails
  • practice my German fluency // Somewhat accomplished. I read articles in Der Spiegel every so often and watched Netflix's Dark in the original German (though still with English subs).
  • actually finish watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer // Not yet finished, but am now halfway through season five (slow but steady progress).
2017 was quite a different year than I'd anticipated post-grad life to be; it was a much lonelier, more difficult, and self-doubting time than I could have imagined, but I can genuinely say that it's all been for the better. Because I had so much free time this year, I was able to take many, many weekend and week-long trips with my friends and family, something that I could not have done if I was working full-time. My flexible schedule meant I could do things like go swimming and study the book of Revelation with a friend in the middle of every Wednesday. I had the time to read through 150 books, the most I've ever read in a year. Though I can't say I ever truly relaxed, the time off meant allowing my brain to let go of my rigid organisational habits formed in college and figure out what it means to be a normal adult.

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