I've heard about people asking themselves the same questions every year on their birthday, or around the start of a new year, and it always sounded like something I'd enjoy. So here's a birthday reflection:
What did you do this year that you'd never done before? I pitched a lot of freelance concepts to big-name publications, even if I wasn't entirely sure if I had a good idea or not, and I practiced saying no regularly in a social sense, which was uncomfortable. It felt extremely hard to put myself out there creatively, but the thing is? You really can't predict where or how an idea will be received, so you might as well try. As far as saying no, I mostly had a big case of FOMO - because I really like doing things and meeting people and going places, but I knew I needed to buckle down if I wanted to achieve any of my writing goals. Another interesting result: I was honestly kind of disappointed to realize how many friendships and relationships were based on a massive amount of effort on my end, which was a hard pill to swallow.
Did you keep your new year's resolutions? I think so. I do this exercise every year, and my priority words for 2018 were family, mindfulness, solitude, generosity, humor. I stayed home, focused on quality time with my nearest and dearest loved ones. I worked on cultivating a morning routine involving writing and yoga and meditation. I got super intentional about where I wanted to give back, and how. And I made a genuine effort to laugh every day - something that wasn't too hard with a funny, sweet toddler around.
Did anyone close to you give birth? My cousin had a baby, and I knew tons of acquaintances who had babies. This next year will be more major since I'm having my second and my sister slash BFF is having her first.
Did anyone close to you die? My husband's grandfather, unexpectedly.
Where did you travel? Within the past year, I went to NYC (for the first time, and loved it!!), Santa Monica/LA and Charleston and Raleigh. All wonderful trips with fantastic memories. This year will be light on travel due to a new baby joining the family, so I'm glad I prioritized seeing some new places on my list.
What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year? More confidence. Less interest in complaining just for the sake of complaining. More local mama friends who I spend time with on a regular basis. Less debt.
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Paying off almost 20K in student loans, hands down. I have a complicated relationship with debt, and this was the first year where I really witnessed some movement based on a lot of financial planning and hustling. And it felt damn good. Also, building up my writing portfolio with pieces at BRIDES (first print piece!), SELF.com, Lifehacker and BuzzFeed.
What was your biggest failure? All the times I was on my phone instead of being present with someone I love.
What other hardships did you face? A miscarriage. Figuring out how to manage people for the first time. And I wouldn't call this a hardship, but I spent a great deal of time this past year reading, listening and learning about how to face and use my own privilege for good.
What was the best thing you bought? Airplane tickets!
Where did most of your money go? Probably groceries, Amazon Prime or traveling, outside of student loan payments. This is one year where I can't say coffee or drinks, haha, because I spent most of my time working and trying to get pregnant or being pregnant.
What did you get really, really, really excited about? A potential book deal . . . (!!!)
What do you wish you'd done more of? Reading actual books.
What do you wish you'd done less of? Scrolling.
What did you want and get? Health, and a baby on the way.
What did you want and not get? Therapy.
What kept you sane? Yoga, hands down, and my family.
What valuable life lesson did you learn this year? Nobody is going to do it for you - your self-care, your mental health, your career objectives, your growth, your boundaries, your prioritization, etc. - but it's okay to ask for help in any of those spaces.
What is a quote that sums up your year? Here's two. "Take criticism seriously but not personally," by HRC. And, "If you're not a leader on the bench, then don't call yourself a leader on the field; you're either a leader everywhere or nowhere. The fiercest leading I've ever seen has been done between mother and child. Parenting is no bench. It just might be the big game," by Abby Wambach.
What did you do on your birthday? What I intend for today: drink an excellent iced coffee, go to the farmer's market, hug my mama and son, feel the baby kick, get a massage, eat dinner with my husband and sister and brother-in-law, and get a good night's sleep.