2018 was easily the most difficult year of my life thus far: I left the startup that had occupied 99% of my time, thoughts, and (literal) tears without a backup plan; I had a quarter-life crisis that led me to doubt if my current field was the one that I actuallyÂ wanted to be in; and my serious, long-term relationship ended suddenly, leaving me with under a month to find a new place to live.
All of these individually would be tough to manage, and I had the misfortune of having all of these happen in the span of three days. To say that I was miserable was an understatement: my self-worth and self-esteem had been damaged in the process, and I felt completely isolated. If it wasnât for the love of some of my favourite people in the world, my motherâs insistence that I speak to a therapist (“if only so you have someone to talk toâ), and the many â10 steps to get my life back on track” lists that I (somewhat obsessively) created, I can honestly say that I might not have made it to the âthank u, nextâ point in my recovery.
Itâs easy to focus on these negatives and to paint 2018 as a terrible year, but 2018 was also filled with so much light and growth:
I learned how to code and built two websites, completely from scratch, along with a handful of unfinished apps
I learned to be comfortable with both silence and being alone
I learned to love my own company
I learned how to put my own needs first
I experienced the rush of falling in love, even if it didnât last
I made the difficult decision to switch fields and to go back to school (one more week until classes start!)
I was fortunate enough to visit Paris, my favourite city in the world, twice
I experienced the magic of Walt Disney World for the first time as an adult
I learned how to ask for help in a way that is productive and that is respectful of othersâ time, energy, and boundaries
I learned that even the most stressful situations can be managed with the help of good friends, chocolate chip cookies, and lots of lists
I treated myself toÂ all the concerts, including two nights in a row with Mumford and Sons
I start every year with the same wish: â[year], please be good to me.â While 2018 may not have been as noticeably good to me as I would have wanted, it was a year filled with growth and self-discovery, and I wouldnât trade the learnings for anything.
If you’ve ever experienced a Canadian winter, you likely know these three things to be true: it starts far too early, lasts much too long, and is ridiculously cold. While my February birthday technically makes me a winter baby, I’m definitely not cut out for temperatures below 10C and find myself constantly drained of energy as soon as the cold weather hits.
I’ve mentioned before how Instagram-friendly locations are one of my (many) weaknesses, so after seeing places like theÂ 7703327573 andÂ Color Factory all over my feed, I made it my mission to find something like that near Toronto. EnterÂ Happy Place, a pop-up installation filled with bright colours, lots of confetti, and rainbow grilled cheese sandwiches – the perfect Instagram-worthy cure for winter melancholy.
After a full week of suffering through rain, wind, and the first snowfall of the season, my Happy Place appointment had finally arrived. Armed with my brightest sweater (who knew I owned clothing that wasn’t monochrome?), a fully-charged phone (a truly rare sighting), and my best friend/reluctant photographer, I set off for the Harbourfront Center.
And, of course, I had to dress up for the occasion – a phrase here which means “wear clothes that weren’t monochrome.” ModCloth made my dream of looking like a fun schoolteacher come true withÂ this bright, rainbow sweater which perfectly coordinated with the buttons on myÂ matching skirt. The Happy Place employees all gave me compliments, which I guess means that wearing colour once in a while can pay off.
For the first ~5 minutes of the visit, there were only a few of us inside. This lulled me into a false sense of security, leading to me spending far too much time eating tiny M&M candies in the entranceway and being startled by the 5 o’clock rush. Even with an influx of people, I rarely had to wait more than a few minutes for a photo spot – something that was probably helped by the time limit imposed on a few of the installations. (That said, if you think I’m tempted to go back for a second visit, just to getÂ moreÂ cute photos with candy machines, you would be correct.)
An hour later, once I had made it through all the installations, I found myself fully recharged and ready to take on the world. Sorry Instagram haters, it turns out that good selfie lighting really can be the best medicine.
I’ve been drafting this post for what feels like years now. Starting a more personal blog has been on my New Years Resolutions list since I finished high school – and I’m about to start a post-graduate degree, so you can tell how long I’ve been putting this off! For the last few years, January 2nd would roll around and I’d tell myself that I missed my window and that I would start something in February… and so began a seemingly never-ending cycle of trying to find the “perfect start date.”
If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that a) the perfect date is April 25th, which I’ve already missed byÂ a lotÂ and that b) assigning arbitrary start dates without anything to hold me accountable to them is really just me setting myself up for failure. So far, 2018 has been all about embracing change and jumping into more things head-first; about committing to startingÂ somethingÂ instead of putting it off, even if it’s messy and imperfect and kind of terrifying. So here I am, on November 25th, getting a heads start on next year’s New Years Resolution. ð