Cheers to 2018
This year has been a crazy ride. Rather than saying it had it ups and downs (like every year truly does) I’ll just say this: 2018 was a challenge. I wasn't sure that was the right word to describe my year because sometimes the idea of something being “challenging” comes off as negative - and I'm not saying this year was bad. Was it hard? Yes. Was it also rewarding? Absolutely.
As I recap the past year, I’m going to work in my resolutions for life "moving forward". I think the end of the year is a great time to reflect, but that the real key to seeing the changes you want is understanding that there is no end to those resolutions - you're really just forming new habits. Keep an eye out for the words or statements that I've bolded to remind me where I want to go. Hopefully you can learn a bit about where you want to go along the way!
I experienced (f)unemployment
As a very career focused person, starting the year unemployed and unsure of where I was heading next was not easy. I should also mention that (with the exception of my five months I spent in Ireland) I hadn’t been jobless since I was fourteen. I had just spent two and a half years working at a job where I felt proud of what I accomplished and learned something new every single day and I met a few of the people who I consider some of my closest friends today. At first, walking away from that just felt wrong. After I let it sink in, I realized that I was actually in the best possible place - hence why I said it was (f)unemployment. I counted my blessings that I wasn’t one of many people who had been laid off and brushed myself off because, how lucky was I to actually have a say? We made the decision to wrap things up because we were clear about what we wanted from our careers (and what we didn’t want) and knew that we had to move on to something new to get there.
I knew that this was my time to be really intentional about my next steps. I spent time going for coffee with friends, mentors and complete strangers to slowly start to hone in on what it was I really wanted to do. As simple as it sounds, that time off made me realize how little time I had taken to reflect on where my career was going. Driven by productivity, I get wrapped up in a list of things to do and forget my “why”. Moving forward, I plan to take the time to step back from my daily to-do list and ensure that my actions align with the vision I have for my life.
...And then I landed the best job
After spending a few months digging into my long-term goals and pushing past the things I didn’t want to do, my current role at Startup Calgary was posted and I knew I had to have it. I worked my ass off to create the best damn resume and cover letter I’ve made to-date. I obsessively prepared for my interviews and, when I finally had my offer letter, I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be. From attending Startupfest in Montreal to represent Calgary’s startup community to showcasing Alberta’s tech community through the inaugural Start Alberta Tech Awards, I look back at the things I have accomplished and I couldn’t be more proud.
If I take one learning into the new year, it is that I am guilty of is moving from one task to the next without remembering the bigger picture. Moving forward, I want to take more time to take breaks from my to-do lists and hectic days to remember the reasons why I do what I do and then do it with purpose.
I started a (real) blog
The first blog I started was a private Tumblr blog that was basically my digital diary and, a few years later, I started a free Wordpress blog so that I could write about my exchange in Ireland. Fast forward to November 2017, I was ready to create a “real” blog. I purchased a domain name, a Squarespace template and made a logo. Then, when I actually sat down to write, every possible negative thought seemed to float into my mind. I questioned who would actually care what I have to say and was afraid I would be judged for wanting to be “another blogger”. Because of those thoughts, my blog didn’t go live until the end of January. What I had to tell myself (continue to tell myself) is that being able to share my words with the world is something I have always wanted to do and that feeling has never, ever let up. So basically I’m saying THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU. Just kidding. But actually, what I know to be true is that you just have to start and it won’t eve be perfect.
Do I still struggle with fear and consistency? Hell yes. I actually haven’t published a blog since June. As much as I love to write, I tend to avoid it when I am feeling uncertain about where I am at in life - which is ridiculous because life is uncertain and always will be. Anyways, work was crazy, summer was coming and then I went through a pretty big life change. Some may say that this is the time more than ever that I should have kept up with my writing, but I would be lying if I didn’t say every single day was a struggle for months (and some days still are). But I’m done with the excuses. So this is my long way of saying that I am back, ready to share my life with the world again and embrace vulnerability - no matter how hard it might be at first.
I said goodbye to my comfort zone
I tackled a few new projects in 2018. Starting this blog was one of them. At the beginning of the year, I spent a ton of time thinking about the branding for my blog, what type of content I would publish and what things I could learn to become better at what I do. From March to June, I participated in the Urban Exposure Project to get to know other creatives in the city and learn a thing or two about photography. You can see my photos and learn more about my experience in this blog post. Fast forward to November, and I was lucky enough to be invited to lead a workshop on Blogging for Business at the Social School Calgary workshop day. I still have a long way to go with my photography skills and one thing I hope to get better at in 2019 is photographing people.
I let myself feel alone
I moved into a one bedroom apartment and have been living alone for the first time in my life for the past four months. As someone who loves to spend time alone, I didn’t think it would be a problem. At first it was really, really hard and that made me feel weak as hell. It was in those brutal moments that I forced myself to just stay at home and sit with that feeling. As much as I love the support of friends and family, I prefer to spend my darkest moments alone. I like to think no matter how much others support you and guide you through a tough time, you will eventually have to face it alone - so why not rip off the bandaid and face it? Eventually things got busy and I ended up spending little to no time at home, which made the time that I was home even harder. Over the holidays, I finally decided that I would spend some quality time by myself - and dammit I would enjoy it. I cooked more (real) meals at home in two weeks than I have in the four months I have lived here. I gave myself permission to nap on the couch whenever the hell I wanted, I unplugged from work and I even went to a movie solo. I’ve come out on the other side feeling more connected to myself than I have in an embarrassingly long time. Moving forward, I am going to continue to embrace how it feels to be alone.
So that wraps up some of the key things that happened in 2018, and there were many amazing unmentioned moments in between. One piece of advice that I plan to take into 2019 is that no feeling or time of life is permanent and things will change with or without your permission, so take charge of the things you can control.
Now fill your cup with everything you learned in 2018 and cheers to what’s next!