I noticed it’s around the holidays or towards the end of the year is when I really start to reflect at my life as a whole and it’s because of all that “new year recap” trend that happens to show up all throughout social media. I write about my year in review each year on my blog, and within these posts is where I let my vulnerability out, put out the major updates that’s happened in my personal and professional life in one post, and it’s the chance I can really witness my growth, whenever I’d like to access these year in reviews online.
That’s what this year made me do a lot: be vulnerable. If I were to sum up my 2023 year in quotes, which I do find a lot on social media but take them with a grain of salt, I would say these two quotes resonated with me most this year: “May the next few months of your life be a period of magnificent transformation.” AND there’s a quote where the first four words you find in the picture would be your 2023 mantra and I got “Love. Connection. Alignment. Purpose.”
This year, which this is going to sound almost cliche and feels like I write this yearly, was the most transformative year of my life. Now, to say “my life” puts a heavy weight, but it is TRUE. This year started off chaotic, full of going with the flow yet navigating lots of life changes and hurdles, but then this year ended in big lessons, self-healing, and discovering. That’s actually nice to say if I think about it. It was full of lotssss of hard freaking work facing my inner pain but who knew that it would make me kind of see on the other side of all that pain once it all subsided? Oppositions, man. I’ll talk about this more in a bit later.
This year was where I had to really learn to live without my dad in my life.
My year started off with crushing grief. It’s been a year and a few months since my Angel Dad left this beautiful planet. I really longed to tell him everything I was feeling, doing, accomplishing, and blamed my life for going crappy this year because of this major event. Life is not the same without a parent, whom you considered your best friend and confidant and supporter. Unfortunately, I still feel pretty young to have lost a parent, but I guess it doesn’t really matter how old you are when you do, it’s just I wish he witnessed so much more for my siblings and I. Now, we’re helping our mom re-navigate life and independency after his loss.
Little did I know that loss would be start of the catalyst to face myself. I didn’t know I would be traumatized by this event and the life changes that followed after, and I had developed depression, mostly a result of these stresses causing physiological changes.
My mental health challenges this year Were overcome towards the end of this year.
Continuing to what had happened after battling with initial grief, depression slowly crept up on me! If you listen to your intuition and know there are small chaotic symptoms showing up, you will know there’s something different about yourself. That’s how I felt and I eventually got the help I needed by seeing a psych nurse and I got diagnosed with depression. I felt super anxious, had very low and dark thoughts (I’m glad I’m a survivor), loss of motivation, procrastination, hopelessness, had stress-induced paranoia, and felt completely dysregulated. The signs were there for sure and I remember it started as early as telling my close friends a warning of what I was experiencing. However, this event alone wouldn’t be the only thing that pushed me to get further help to face my life (if you keep reading on).
Seeking help was the best relief I got out of this year. I didn’t just get on medication, which has been a hugeeeee help and helped me to just get up and go and do things again, but I combined that with EMDR therapy and DBT therapy – consistently, weekly. I was so inpired by my own journey in this that I even wrote a whole blog post why seeking help is SO important. Even just talking to someone (or even a few people in your support system) is so useful to get you to process your feelings and to keep your head up on how to find direction. Sorry to spoil this for you, but you’ll find out you’re NEVER alone in your thoughts or experiences.
I loved and I lost, but the lessons were something to be grateful for.
I fell in love this year with someone I thought I was planning a future with, but the tables turned with some interpersonal issues and I simply learned love is not enough. You need more than love, more than chemistry, and connection. It takes a few factors to make something right with someone and it’s not always going to be entirely one person’s fault, but it usually takes the two parties to cause a relationship to fall apart.
I don’t want to go into details with this one because it’s still something I am learning to understand, and in respect for the other person, but I know that in this life, we will love and we will have loss. I was a big hot mess coming out of this relationship, and I had to learn how to picture my future without having that person in it anymore. I’m starting to feel indifferent towards that person and about the situations leading up to our breakup. But, I’ve learned that relationship needed to be there for a reason (or a few).
My breakup was the other catalyst as to why I was determined to go into therapy. The relationship made me face some of the traumas that I didn’t get to address as effects from previous relationships many years ago and I wanted to break certain patterns and how to learn to be the best partner I can be by re-learning how to trust again. Most importantly, learn to trust in myself. Therapy has helped me reconnect with myself and to understand the value and worth I bring to others’ lives and in this world. It also helped me to understand how to set boundaries better.
I learned to fall back in love with content creation and realize my purpose in this again.
Aside from all the deep stuff that I mentioned, now we can go into more professional goals I had worked on this year. I mentioned in my 2022 year in review that I was losing interest in writing for my blog and my hobbies, and part of that was creating content for the blog on social media or capturing what I was up to.
However, I went on lots of adventures this year and I thought it wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t capture them in the way I would through my blog. I had to do something about all of these adventures; I needed to share. I eventually got back into loving making content like Instagram reels/TikToks and writing for this blog and it didn’t become this obligation for me to do it, I just like the feeling I get out of editing my videos and writing about places again. I have shifted away from thinking of making content as work, but rather as how it originally started off as: my hobby.
This was always my purpose, to capture the places through my eyes and to share that with my readers/viewers. It’s my purpose to help someone out in their next adventure. It’s my purpose to help someone love adventure like I do too.
I found work that I love doing and it’s work that doesn’t feel like a job I dread doing or going to.
Throughout my 20s (I’m going into the last year of my 20s this new year!!), I’ve worked over 10+ jobs. I went from an unpaid intern to a part-time employee to a full-time employee to a freelancer. I am still a freelancer and I love that I chose this path. I found a job (under a freelance contract) as a digital media planner, also known as someone who plans, implements, and analyzes paid social campaigns, and guess for what industry: healthcare!
My dad worked in healthcare for most of his life and it’s astonishing how I landed in a huge healthcare network. I actually became more interested in medicine and health after I got Valley Fever in 2021 and it fascinated me. It’s more amazing knowing you’re making an impact in someone else’s life by advertising for something that isn’t consumerism, but towards the health of someone, which is more impactful.
In fact, on my blog here, you’ll find a lot of blog posts I wrote towards wellness because I wanted to be an advocate for better wellbeing. (Hence why I just talked about my therapeutic journey.) I love combining both my travel blogging for a bigger purpose out there too and it’s to maintain our wellbeing in life because our healths, both mental and physical, determines so much of what we can get out of life.
This work has truly allowed me to know that work-life balance is possible (I do work a consistent schedule with this job), and that I can still work remotely wherever. I’m not a full-time blogger and I don’t know when that day will ever come, but I am loving balancing my life with work that has a greater purpose than I can imagine for myself.
My friendships have stood the time with me, and I learned to invest in those just the same.
One of my closest friends, Leslie, always tells me that I know how to just bring people together and there’s a reason why I do: I want my friends by my side, to share memories with and to have great conversations with.
I’ve got to reconnect with her and our other closest friend (Karan), after having been long distance, when they visited me here in Arizona, I planned a few parties in my apartments (I moved to two this year and hopefully not for a while), and I got to connect with old and new friends there. I went on lots of friend adventures (friendship goals!), and I have decided my time with friends who want the same out of life like I do and show they truly invest in our time is something I’m going to keep leaning onto.
I tried new things, new food, and saw new places. My goal is to visit at least 2 new countries a year.
I went to new places this year, both in my backyard and abroad, and I guess that’s not unexpected for someone who travel blogs, but I’m always so happy to look back on my year in reviews looking back at the adventures that took place. I will never stop loving experiences, so I made it a goal of mine that I will try to visit 2 new countries each year, which has already been happening anyway, but to instill this as something I have to prioritize.
A new thing that I have done a lot of this year is learning to watercolor paint! I am loving the process of learning to watercolor paint and I love all these supplies I’ve gathered in this past year to continue onto this new hobby. It is so therapeutic and something I just love doing for myself. I actually fell into this to help me cope after my dad’s loss.
Now, I know what simplifying my life means.
I have mentioned this in my previous year in reviews, but this year is where I felt what simplifying life really meant. And it’s simple as putting time and patience into the things I value, which I identified what I really value (through therapy!): worthy relationships, soul-seeking adventures, having a home to call mine, and doing things when I feel like it and if it has any value to me.
That last one sounds a bit selfish haha, but knowing you have agency is easier said than done. You REALLY have to know your boundaries like when to say no without any guilt, stand up when something makes you uncomfortable, don’t give in too much of your time to just anyoneeee because you want to be nice, and don’t feel like you have to be everywhere. I learned from this year where I should put my energy in and how to protect my energy.
In a nutshell: I finally found “the calm” after a decade of drastic ups and downs in life.
Can you believe it…? I finally know what stability is meant to feel like. It wasn’t just the therapy that opened up my eyes on how to get to this place, but it’s the work I did. It was also about really embracing the things that got me here and the presence. It was finally having some plans and sticking with those. It was regulating my emotions through the things that made me sad this year and understanding our emotions really are waves. It was about grasping to radical acceptance. You can’t control a lot of things in your life, but you can control certain things and it’s how you want to feel about certain situations.
It’s not going to be easy. In fact, when I was doing my therapy work, I was hit with a rush of extreme feelings and triggers and reminding me why I was depressed, but it’s because it only gets worst before it gets better! I am in a better place in my life than I ever been, to be honest, and it’s okay even if you aren’t right now. I had felt like a lost little bird though for all my previous years (if you read my previous year in reviews), but I promise you: it won’t always be like that.
So, if you also got yourself out of some dark places in your life like I did, give yourself a pat on the back and find contentment and hold unto the clarity that you receive. Another thing I want to mention: I am hitting 4 years sober and I would never go back to touching a drink again. I am so thankful to finally know what I know now and move forward with that. As you can too.
Happy 2024!!!!! Hope the year truly brings you blessings and not always lessons. 😉