Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 | Rewind

All too soon another year is behind me, the moments passing seemingly more quickly by the second (though never in summer, of course, the dreadfully long, sticky season), this time with all the recent life changes neatly packed into a single trip around the sun.

I moved from Raleigh up to Washington D.C. post-Christmas 2017 and began my first real full time job a few days later in the early days of January. Given my mixed experience in D.C. last summer, I told myself that if I absolutely hated it I only had to stick it out for a year and then I could find a new job and move somewhere else. 

And instead -- I love it here. God has so richly blessed my life in this city with a safe and spacious apartment I can afford, a roommate I get along with, a church community that challenges and encourages me, and a stable job.

I feel particularly blessed after the root-less and frustrating year 2017 turned out to be. 2018 had its challenges and dark days, but I look back on the year and see personal growth as a Christian, a post-grad adult, and a professional. Most of the joys of the year are intangible, the small moments not captured by pen or camera but only in memory. I've learned as I've gotten older what is worth sharing and what is worth treasuring privately, and the balance this past year tipped more into the latter category.

As for conclusive events and milestones:

I saw Arctic Monkeys, Harry Styles, needtobreathe, Florence + the Machine in concert. I visited Richmond, Baltimore, Asheville, Raleigh (many times), Annapolis, New York City, and Harpers Ferry, a few of which for the first time. I ran my 5th half marathon, helped put on a work conference for the first time, tabled at another work conference, attended multiple Senate hearings and Department of Labor meetings for work, was interviewed by Politico(!!!), survived waves of tourists that coincided with national holidays and the cherry blossom plant cycle, cheered on D.C. sports teams, spent another 4th of July in the nation's capital, and saw some of my favorite authors at the National Book Festival. 

I completed most of my 2018 goals -- 10 out of 12. I've recapped my progress below, bolding the ones I completed and adding explanatory notes as needed.
  • consciously live in the presence of God // I'll be continuing this one in the new year, but I've been far better at making time for regular prayer and studying the Word.
  • settle into D.C. // Check, check, and check.
  • be more mindful of my environmental impact // I've been consistent in using reusable bags when shopping, riding public transportation whenever possible, buying almost exclusively secondhand clothing, and cleaning my apartment with clean/green products.
  • eat more meat-free meals // This was easy. I'm vegetarian 70-80% of the time and the transition was seamless.
  • budget budget budget // I need some more work in this area, but I always pay my bills on time and pay off my credit card every month, so I'm not doing badly.
  • save for international travel // This did not happen as I have a tight budget, but I'm making it a renewed priority in 2019.
  • finish Agatha Christie's Hercules Poirot series + start working through Terry Pratchett's Discworld series // I'm so close -- I have 6 Poirot mysteries left! I read the first five books of the Discworld series but got stuck as my library doesn't have the next book in the series.
  • stop buying books until I read more of the books that I own // I didn't do too well at this at the beginning of the year, but I only bought 3 books in the second half of the year, so mixed success.
  • Dig deeper into the books I read, and stop reading books I'm not enjoying // I've gotten better at this. I used to struggle with feeling like I had to read books because everyone else was reading them. But in the fall I decluttered my social media pages and unfollowed most of the bookstagram accounts I followed, which relieved the reading FOMO.
  • be more conscious of sugar consumption // Overall, I've been better at self-discipline in this area, but the holiday season always throws this out of whack.
  • continue expanding writing portfolio + pitch several freelance pieces // I fulfilled this a bit, with several pieces for Into the Fold and a couple assorted interviews and articles for various sites. I've largely fallen out of love with doing this though, so I only do it when I have an idea I really like.
  • finish Buffy the Vampire Slayer // I'm counting this as completed even though I only made it to the middle of season 6. I gave up. It'd gotten to where the episodes were terrible and unenjoyable, and I didn't want to suffer through it anymore.
2018 ended far differently than it began, sometimes for the worse but mostly for the better. I've always felt older than my age, but this year brought accelerated growth as I moved away from home for the first time (college and study abroad notwithstanding), and I look forward to bringing what I learned from the year into the new one.
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