2014 Report Card

Every year starts off the same way: New Year’s resolutions hoping to change and improve our lives.  Very few people can seem to make resolutions stick throughout the upcoming year and I am no exception.

Last year, I gave myself 14 resolutions I hoped to follow and somewhat improve upon, and now looking back at this year, I wanted to see just how well I did when it came to making those resolutions more than just hopes, but actions.

1. Make plans and stick to them

Grade: C

This was a difficult grade for me to give myself.  I felt that there was so much on my plate this past year that it was hard making plans and sticking to them, but a great epiphany that came through late in the year helped give me new perspective.  After I bailed on plans to go hiking because of the overload of work I had, a friend gave it to me and I’m glad she did.

I looked at that as opportunity to really reevaluate how I was spending my time.  Sure work and school are important, but if I don’t enjoy my youth and my life while I have it, then I’m really wasting my time.  I also began to realize that after graduate school my life really begins and I may not be in Buffalo.  This made me think that these could be a series of “lasts” for me in Buffalo.  So I wanted to make the most of the time I have hear – the holidays, the seasons, the events – I want to do it all right.

So while I started off the year letting this resolution slide, I feel I made up for it in the end, giving myself an average grade.  Also I learned that it never pays off to overload yourself.  My spring semester had me working part-time, doing a full set of graduate classes, in addition to my graduate assistantship, as well as a side internship and an extra writing class.  Then going into two summer classes back to back had my the first 6 weeks of summer feeling like a contest just to see how many hours of sleep I could get at night.  It paid off that in the fall I had a lesser load of classes, but I don’t know if it was worth the stress in the moment.  All in all, biting the bullet at certain points in our lives can be worth it in the long run, just as long as we remember to enjoy the present!

2. Keep my love for reading going

Grade: D+

I love to read there is no doubt about it.  Not to mention, reading is the best compliment to writing, which is my one true love.  However, looking back at this year I think I only finished one book, Looking for Alaska, which left me wishing the book wouldn’t end.  There is power in young adult fiction and instead of capitalizing on the revitalization this book gave me, I instead flatlined.  I picked up another book, Praying Drunk – a book whose title was more exciting than it’s story, but I didn’t fight for the book and that left me not fighting for any book.

While this resolution was dismal, I found myself reading a few books for my Leadership class that once again made me realize I want to read and I need to read. Also, more than half of my Christmas wish list items are books, so here’s to hoping I fare better in 2015.

I’ll be making my own reading challenge in 2015 in hopes of motivating myself to not abandon my love of reading.

3. Actually take baby steps to being healthier.

Grade: C+

While I feel I am at my worst, health-wise, I do have to give myself some credit where it is due.  During the summer I took a Health Communication class, which opened my eyes to a lot of issues when it comes to our own health and how we communicate about it. As an aside to the subject we were studying we tried to eat healthier, bringing in healthy snacks to eat during our 3 1/2 hour class.  I took it a step further – I reached out to a trainer and started making exercise a part of my routine. I even began making running a habit and pushed myself to improve my pace per mile. I bought a Ninja blender to help me eat more fruits and vegetables and when I cooked dinner I made it as healthy as I could.

However, once summer ended, I seemed to neglect it all.  Sure I built some habits that really helped me keep some healthy activities going – but I didn’t curb some of my unhealthy practices.  I still ate out a few times a week, binged on pop and junk food at home and my sleep was like a rollercoaster.  I allowed the stress of writing my thesis to get in the way and allowed the unhealthy to become the convenient.

But already thinking of joining a gym and how I want to work out I think will help me better in 2015 – I’m giving myself an action plan so that I will be able to make healthy a habit and not just something I hope I can make work.

4. Take more pictures

Grade: A

There is a beautiful thing called Instagram that really helped me ace this resolution.  But it wasn’t just a way of sharing pictures, it was more so a way of holding onto memories.  Whether I’m out with friends, snowbound in my house or at a momentous event, I’m snapping pictures to capture the moment.

I never realized how precious photos are until you really get nostalgic and find yourself walking down memory lane remembering family functions, school events, even just simple, ridiculous moments with family and friends.  If there was one resolution I stuck with it was this one and I have a photo album that showcases what a year 2014 was.

Here’s to even more pictures and one day appreciating that I captured so many moments, big and small.

5. Embrace social media even more

Grade: B+

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I’ve done more an excelled in.  I’ve really tapped into using these sites for more than just rattling off the sweet-nothings of my everyday life – although I do still tend to do that.  I’ve looked at how social media sites really do connect people and keep communication open.

I would’ve given myself an A if I would’ve exposed myself more to LinkedIn – the social media site for working professionals.  This site will be an asset to me once I graduate so I should’ve embraced it more.  But even through research with my thesis I’ve learned how social media is a significant tool for sharing and connecting but also storytelling, understanding and participating in the world that surrounds us.

6. Remove the word “busy” from my vocabulary

Grade: D

I hate this word.  It’s become so engrained into my vocabulary that I feel I use it every other word.  “I can’t I’m busy with ______ (insert “school,” “work,” “laundry” or any other excuse possible).”

I think the word busy is problematic for multiple reasons.  The first is that it implies that we are not fulfilled in our lives, which could be a metaphor for how unfulfilling we can let life be.  Another reason is that busy seems to imply excuses. When we say we are busy we ultimately tie a reason why we are busy as if to defend our reasoning. Lastly, being busy brings with it a sense of negativity.  Who wants to be busy? I think people would rather be enjoying themselves, relaxing, having fun – another other than being busy.  Whatever the case busy is just a negative word that I think we should all remove from our vocabulary.  I didn’t do so well at this in 2014.  Being overly ambitious may have been the biggest obstacle to this resolution, but it also helped me realize especially when it came to making plans how being busy left me feeling miserable.  I wasn’t enjoying life, but rather walking through the motions half-asleep, with no motivation and depleted passion.

I’m hoping with this new outlook, and one semester left of graduate school and big dreams to pursue after than “busy” will soon be obsolete.

7. Quit over-thinking and planning, instead be more spontaneous and follow my gut.

Grade: A-

I was somewhat surprised how well I did with this especially with understanding that my personality is one of caution and planning.  Despite my reserved personality, when opportunities presented themselves to do something and be spontaneous I went for it.  When it came to meeting new people, doing something new and different, I took the risk.  It was as big as taking a road trip, to giving a nice girl my number. I pushed the limits of my own comfort zone even when I looked like a fool and embarrassed myself.  If it didn’t work out how I planned, it was something that allowed me to laugh at myself.

I also tried my hardest to follow my gut and let it guide me.  It the biggest way it paid off because going with my gut I realized the avenue I wanted my life to take.  I feel so comfortable with my choices.  I’ve decided that after graduate school I really want to pursue my writing and I feel a sense of peace and excitement with the choice.  I’m young, I have no strings attaching me to where I am and there is no stopping me from chasing my dreams with full force.  Instead of settling for a career I’d be happy and satisfied with, I’m listening to my gut and going for the gusto for a career that will leave me ecstatic and passionate.  For me, there is no better growth than in this resolution, but I still need some work in taking more steps to getting closer to my dreams.

8. Be more committed to friendships new and old.

Grade: A

This is something I have really prided myself on.  Friends new and old I have always tried to maintain.  Of course it gets more difficult to maintain those friendships as new chapters begin and old ones close, new friends enter the picture, while old ones move out of town.  But whatever the case, I have seen how it is relatively easy to keep communication between friends open and ongoing.  It could be a quick text, or planning to grab drinks after work.  Whether it was driving to Maine to visit my friend Erin, getting together with my friends Jon and Coops for our five-year high school reunion on Thanksgiving Eve, or coffee with my friend Katie just to catch-up and see how each other is doing – the friends I have encountered in my life are some of the most important friendships in my life.  I’ve come to appreciate the “bro nights” with the guys I work with and the times of catching up with old friends and picking up where we left off.

There are few friends in my life where it has felt that we’ve become strangers.  For the most part, we may go months or even years without seeing each other, but our friendship doesn’t suffer due to the time lapse, it only seems to strengthen it. I feel that friendships are really the relationships we have to work at.  Family we are almost forced to uphold, but friendships take a sense of volition and I am happy to say that my friends mean the world to me.  They are the support system I lean on as well as the wing people I go to for a fun night out.

I’m so thankful that friends near and far and new and old and I hope they know I’m always there for them.

9. Embrace the new and different

Grade: C+

In Maine, I ate lobster poop, which apparently is a delicacy in some countries.  If that wasn’t “new” and “different” I don’t know what was.  But there were instances where I openly explored the new and different. Those experiences came mainly on trips where I was able to take in a whole different culture like eating lobster poop, or doughnuts made out of potatoes.  But even in my everyday life, I didn’t take in the new and different as much as I should’ve hence the average grade.

Luckily for me, so much more is developing in Buffalo, which will give me much material to use to grow in 2015, but even beyond that I’m hoping to do something that scares me everyday.  There’s still always more to learn and see so here’s to building on the foundation 2014 already gave me.

10. Plunge into Buffalo and really see what makes this city the best.

Grade: A

Buffalo is on the rebound and exploring it has been exciting.  There’s something new and different around every corner.  I’ve still yet to go ice skating at Canalside, but I’m hoping to this week!  But I have explored all the different parks on the Outer Harbor, which are so breathtaking on a summer day.  I’ve even taken quite a few Buffalo hotspots off my bucket list like Food Truck Tuesday, taking a jet boat tour in the Niagara Gorge and the famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  I made it my mission this year to dive right into Buffalo and I think I did a great job.  The best part is that Buffalo continues to develop and there are still so many more sites and sounds to see and hear!  There’s no doubt that 2015 has more exploring in store.

11. Take some necessary steps to build my career.

Grade: C

2014 was a year of a lot of back and forth for me.  I was torn between my writing and taking a job in the nonprofit world.  I took an internship at a local nonprofit.  I loved the mission behind the work I was doing and the people I worked with.  But I felt there was something missing.  At the end of the day I didn’t use my writing enough to feel I could be happy there and in the nonprofit world as a whole.  So I decided the avenue I’d pursue would be my writing and I wouldn’t chicken out.  So I give myself an average grade because I took the first big step – realizing where I want to go. But now comes the actual steps of getting there.

12. I’m single, like a pringle but I need to be more willing to mingle.

Grade: C-

I would’ve given myself a failing grade for this one just because I’ve allowed every other part of my life to thrive and this well to dry up.  But just as I mentioned I tried to be more spontaneous this year.  It came with giving a tasting girl at work my number and while it didn’t impress her enough to get a text, it was a ballsy step in the right direction. I’m only a ballsy person on rare occasion and not ballsy in my love life at all.  There were a few occurrences that made me feel like I took a page out of Ted Mosby’s horrendous flirting playbook, but at the end of the day they gave me some great material for a future sitcom.  For 2015, I won’t be looking for a relationship I’ve really found that for right now my first priority is my dreams and a career – maybe once I establish myself the rest will fall together.  For now, I’m happy enjoying myself as a pringle and whatever hysterical and embarrassing mingling I do.

13. Travel more, in addition to what is already planned.

Grade: A-

I traveled more than I expected this past year.  While I was supposed to visit New Orleans on a service trip early in the year, Buffalo weather prevented that.  I was lucky enough to visit Los Angeles, even though the sunny city was more of a rainforest when we visited.  After L.A. I visited Boston for a quick conference and then to Portland with my friend Chels to visit our friend Erin who had been living there.  More recently, I went to Washington, D.C. for the Ignatian Family Teach-In. I took some big cities off my bucket list and I was happy to see how great our country is.  Each city was so uniquely different and in there own way offered me a small piece of home, which is always nice, especially since I’m hoping to leave Buffalo for a little while after I graduate.  These cities brought with them wonderful sites to see, unforgettable experiences and new friendships.  The beauty of traveling is that you learn so much more about yourself, what you are capable of and the potential you have to leave an impact on this world.

So for 2015, traveling may take a backseat, although a trip to New York City and Texas are in the works, but the biggest trip of all, the big move will be the most exciting one yet!

14. Make my writing my first priority.

Grade: A-

I’ve really stopped trying to talk myself out of pursuing my writing.  While I do love the area I am studying and can see myself happy and satisfied in this career, my passion is with writing.  If I want a job that I look forward to going to everyday, I need to give myself the opportunity to make that a reality.  I decided to take an extra writing class in my spring semester to get some exposure to writing.  I became more disciplined with commitment to this blog, and even sought guidance from my boss, Dr. Irwin, in regards to my writing.  She has been a generous support system for me in planning out how I want to hit the ground running.  Sometimes all it takes is a person who shares your passion and believes in you to make you snap out of a doubtful mind and believe in yourself.

I gave myself an A- because there were other priorities that sometimes overrode my writing.  But I do feel that once I graduate and get a lot of obligations off my plate I will be really free to make my writing #1. My plan in 2015, after I graduate and enjoy my brother’s  wedding is to make a move to Los Angeles, where I hope to pursue my passion of television writing.  I keep sharing this with anyone who will listen so that I don’t back out on myself.  2015 will be the year of going big or going home.  So I’ll be taking all the steps necessary to go for the gusto!

Overall 2014 New Year’s Resolutions Grade: B-

2014 had its ups and downs.  But the way I look at it 2014 was a building year.  A year that I needed to get through to build a foundation of where I want to take the rest of my life.  There was a lot I didn’t accomplish and quite a bit I failed at, but for the most part I felt I did a better job at embracing life and the world I live in.  I was “busy” a lot but in the end I feel that busyness helped me to find my one true passion and has helped me want to chase that dream until it’s real.  So while 2014 was a lot of exploring, a lot of discovering and a lot of building, I truly believe that 2015 will be the year that it all really begins for me.

Here’s to 2015, a year of health and happiness and passion-pursuing power!

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