The concise version: 

Honesty is hard – really hard – but it’s what we should offer each other. It’s the only way to truly progress and live authentically.

Reconnecting with old friends matters  – make time for it.

Spending time enhancing your day to day happiness is more high impact than planning a Big Thing to make yourself happy.

There are so. many. ways. to. love. people. Always opt towards loving.

Let go of people of self centered people who only speak of themselves and make room for other more lovely people.

I’ve been through worse.

The rambling version

This year was hard but not the hardest I’ve been through by any means. I normally have lots to say reflecting back on a year but my words feel limited and constrained. I tend to get this way at the end of the year. I stayed, for the most part, in San Diego in 2017. I spent about half my time away but there was something simply lovely about the act of returning. I returned and returned and returned to sunny San Diego. Each time, it made me smile. I found routine and my inner introvert rejoiced in the simplicity of a known existence. Monday night soccer was deliciously consistent along with trivia on Thursday and pick up soccer on Friday at exactly 12:30pm. The same faces greeting me each time with a wave and a smile. Pinch me, pinch me! They know me.

But I don’t feel deeply known. I feel surface level known. This entire year I knew if I stayed too long, I’d either never leave again or grow incredibly bored. I checked the checklist: make friends, drink beer, workout, go to the beach, blah blah. I went to the same coffee shop to the point that I dressed up one day for an event and all the baristas noticed. They gave me grief for it – they know I don’t dress up.

I felt like I “played house” this past year – I zipped myself up into a life of routine and a single dwelling point that I would gravitate back to. I was very aware I was doing this. I was very aware this was temporary and that I wanted to see how it felt. I wanted to see how it changed me. It did.

Lessening the chaos of location externally gave me space to dig into some of the chaos of my inner life. I deeply have pursued trying to understand surrogacy. I’ve been radically honest with friends (including confessing my love for one) and family alike. I had many many many hard and long conversations repeatedly keeping myself as open as I could be. It was and has been exhausting. It hasn’t been fun work to do. It has been necessary. I feel incredibly confident in owning my truth and in being honest with those around me. I still get nervous – I still feel the desire to close up. I still push through. I hope I always have the ability to do so. I’m thankful to those who offered their truth back to me whether in words or their actions so that I could take care of myself in whatever way I needed. I’ve realized the worst is when you don’t know your truth so when I do feel it and I do know it, I feel I must express it. It’s scarier now to not express it than to do so. The hardest parts of this year have been not having that truth as a guiding point and knowing I might never. I’m coming to peace with that.

Gah it blows my mind how many beautiful, fantastic people I was able to see this past year. My old camp counselor from when I was 12 who I hadn’t seen in 12 years. We met at a brewery and talked for hours. My former rugby teammate who studied abroad at UNC from France who showed a dear highschool friend of mine and myself around Paris after not seeing her for 4 years. A friend of mine from middle school who happened to randomly be in Malibu. We met up at a coffee shop and caught up as if no time had passed. The trip I took with two friends from highschool to national parks in Utah where we curled up alongside and in a 2 person tent before hiking the next morning to a gorgeous waterfall. The back to back trips I took with another dear friend from highschool – San Francisco, San Diego, Paris, and Asheville. The many bottles of wine and long conversations went hand in hand. Reuniting with some of my favorite cousins and older cousins who I had barely met in Hendersonville, NC for a week. The slow days, long walks, and simplicity of a mountain town facilitated so much peace for me. The former soccer teammates of mine I met up with for coffee while on a trip home. The hours of conversation, the real hugs, and the genuine “please keep in touch” remarks. I was in two weddings this year for two friends where I got to see them join their life with another. I cried of course and felt so honored to be there for such a big day for each of them. The list goes on – I feel so immensely lucky to have these rare people in my life. I went to 3 new countries this year as well expanding my global mindset: France, England, and Mexico. These are the moments and trips each year that I look back on so happily.

In early 2017, I finished up another round of therapy. It ended abruptly just like the first time I went – I seem to prefer that rather than having a conversation asking “if I’m ready”. This time around, therapy consisted of focused sessions with EMDR where I’d recount and try to reprocess painful memories. I went from waking up every morning in a panic at 4-5AM to sleeping normally most of the time. My anxiety is still mostly with me – an annoying friend I can’t get rid of no matter how many hints I drop. Therapy ended when I went off on a travel stint for 2.5 months away from San Diego. When I returned, I never followed up.

Therapy this year gave me the ability to sleep better. This drastically has improved my day to day life. Sleep is the basis for my sanity – it’s the fuel that lets me do what I want to do. Without it, I was panicked and short circuiting daily. I have horrible memories of the days I spent sleep deprived and anxious trying to take on the world. Sleep is one piece of the puzzle – food is another. I went to a nutritionist for the first time this year and feel so much more knowledgeable about how my body reacts to food. Knowing how to set myself up for success and how to keep myself going over the course of a day has made a huge difference emotionally. I think most think I went to a nutritionist for purely the classic reasons but I went because I knew what I put in my system affects me so much emotionally. Like sleep, eating is another everyday life maintenance act that I took a hold of this past year. I don’t have it all figured out and I still emotionally eat but I’m getting there. To add another tool to my toolbox of improving my daily emotional health, in late 2017 I started walking each day at the beach everyday for an hour. I have probably been doing this for the last 2 months now and it’s been fantastic. It forces me to end working, get outside, process the day, and let it go. I walk the same ~4 mile path most days catching the gorgeous sunset the world offers that day. It reminds me of my Grannie who walked 6 miles each day along the same path in North Augusta, SC – I see why she did it. These three daily things have been some of the most high impact things I’ve done this year. Each day is better. Each day I am learning how to regulate and accept my emotions.

This past year, three names kept cropping up in my emotional turmoil. They’d spin through my head and they felt inescapable.  They were interchangeable names that degraded my self worth and represented so many themes in my most intense relationships with others. They were at the root of so much anxiety and depression. I’m letting go and making space for new people. 2017 unveiled the self centeredness of those who have power over me. I feel so much freer without these influences. I should have done this years ago but I must be patient with myself. As they fade, my emotions fade about them.

2017 was the year of so many postcards – I keep collecting addresses and scribbling kind words to send across the globe. I am realizing there are so many ways to love people and it makes me so relieved. I said there were so many ways before I believed it – 2017 made me believe in this concept as I lived it out as much as I could bear. My ability to love and to connect is so strong and so refined. I only need to let it seep out from me and spill around to those in my life. It’s been incredibly healing to let myself do that this year. I have loved so much this past year in ways that I never expected.

This year has been hard. I’ve done so much emotional work on myself and have sprinted after those seemingly unfaceable truths. I haven’t left myself off the hook. As a result, I spent many months extremely exhausted. I took it as a sign that I needed a break so I curled up in bed more and I tried to take care of myself as best as I know how. I let myself be exhausted and I feel myself on the other side of those months. I wrestled with where to live and how to live. I have decided to go back to being a full nomad in March 2018 for 6 months or so until I…. I don’t know. I return to San Diego? We’ll see. I’m not concerned. I’ve been through worse than this year and I look back on it knowing I’ve changed for the better. I’m doing many things I never imagined I’d be able to do or handle.

Professionally I’ve grown so much in my capacity, in my thoughts, and in my actions. I’m learning and working on having my intensity not own me. At the same time, I’m tired of shaming myself for my intensity. It’s what drove me to where I am today and I don’t want to downplay that part of myself. Professionally, I feel more mature yet I feel at a cross roads. There are many roads to pursue and I don’t know which destination will resonate the most with me. I do know that my work is meaningful to me and that I’m doing the best I can. There’s nothing more I can ask of myself and that feels good. I love feeling like I’m in the groove of challenging myself.

I guess that’s a good way for me to think of this year – I found my groove. I solidified my self worth by investing in myself. I am continuing to make decisions to build the life I want. I am continuing to bring those I love most into the adventures I have – they are the ones who make them adventures after all. I feel like each action I eventually take feels right and that has come from learning to deeply know myself. I don’t take it for granted – I am in a groove and I know it can’t last. I know life will shatter this foundation but I build it anyway. When it all comes tumbling down, I still want to be proud of the pieces that are left behind to build from once more.

I feel myself sitting back more. I have this sense that 2018 is going to be a year of observation and of more silence. I am a sprinter by nature but I can feel myself easing back into my more introverted self who just wants to ask questions, listen, and learn. The weight of the world is dissipating and my perspective is opening up. I am curious where it will take me and what I will learn. I hope I will be able to do it surrounded by loved ones.

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