It’s hard to believe, but 2015 is already fast winding to its close, the horizon of 2016 almost upon us. As I get older I feel like each year goes by faster and faster; to consider that it’s already been almost three years since I first moved to Vancouver is unreal. I wanted to take some time to reflect back on my personal highlight reel for the year, as it’s been another monumental year full of big change, wild adventures, and a series of micro transitions which have helped me get closer and closer to living my dream life. When I consider what stands out the most to me when I sift through my year of memories, there’s a strong trend—it’s been a year full of firsts. So without further ado...
March—My First Writing Assignment.
It was in October of 2014 that I began incorporating writing into my day job. At the time, I was working with BAM, a Real Estate Creative Agency, doing Project Coordination and B2B Sales. I saw a need for an in-house copywriter and, having greatly enjoyed writing in school, I made a proposal and got started writing advertising copy on the side. In March, I received my very first freelance assignment. Through Sara McKenna’s business Social City Networking, I attended an Ok Go concert as media and then wrote a recap of my experience for the SCN blog. I was immediately hooked. I can still remember the feeling of being in that concert, enjoying the show as my brain whirred on with a mind of its own, sifting through the events in real time as I practiced the battle between enjoying the performance and beginning to piece together my recap in the moment—I loved it. That concert marked a real turning point in my career, and really set me off on the journey to hungrily hustle my way into writing work in order to build a portfolio from scratch. My BHAG was to get a full-time writing job within a year, so I’ve got another few months to make that dream a reality on time. Game on.
July—My First Wanderlust Festival.
After three years working for lululemon, it seems a bit ironic that I finally attended a Wanderlust festival only after I’d left the company; however, everything happens for a reason. This was again a result of the amazing Sara and SCN, as we were able to attend the festival together for all five days as representatives of SCN. For those who aren’t familiar, Wanderlust is a huge community yoga/meditation/music festival which happens in multiple cities around the world throughout the summer months. For this first trip, Sara and I attended the Whistler festival in late July. It was an indescribable experience, one which exceeded my expectations. It was a chance to be welcomed into a community where I experienced euphoria eerily similar to that felt during my first few months at Hampshire College. There’s something so magical about a group of like-minded people brought together united around a common experience and open to fostering new connections. I spent five days feeling lit up and creatively engaged with the world around me during one of the most fulfilling vacations I’ve ever experienced.
September—My First Period of Fun-employment.
As many of you know, I made the decision in September to quit my job without lining anything up for myself. I took two weeks off and had a beautiful little getaway to California to spend time with my parents and clear my head by physically removing myself from routine. It was a great chance to connect with each of my parents on that adult level which you begin to grow into once you reach your 20’s, that chance for you to give your parents advice and insight and for them to reciprocate from more of a peer-to-peer level than ever before. I returned to Vancouver lit up and ready to charge ahead on my self-motivation train, entering one of the most mentally-difficult periods of my life since my move to Vancouver. It’s been wonderful and messy and oh so joyous and I’ve learned so much about myself and my wants/needs. There’s nothing like writing a million cover letters and going on what feels like hundreds of interviews to get you very clear on how to weave your personal narrative to strangers; this in turn teaches you valuable lessons about how you view yourself and forces you to regularly (and fiercely) advocate for yourself which is a deeply important life lesson. What this period of freelancing has shown me is that while I love it and am fully capable of turning into my full time, long term employment, right now what I want is a full time, in-house writing job (ideally within a company focused on health and wellness) which gives me the chance to be a part of a creative team who I can learn from and be inspired by. To borrow from my Wanderlust takeaway, I feel it’s essential to my person inspiration at this stage in my life to surround myself with other creatives and people up to cool things and the freelancing life is just a bit too lonely for me right now, if I’m going to be honest. Which is fine and a great thing to know so that when I do end up getting a full-time job, I’m not stuck wondering if the grass is greener on the freelancing side of the hill. Every experience is a learning experience, after all.
December—My First Holiday Season Without Parents.
This year marked the first time that James and I have celebrated Christmas just the two of us without any parents. It’s been markedly bittersweet; while we’ve both missed our parents greatly, it’s been a very big moment for our relationship as it’s given us the chance to properly work on building up our two-person family. There was something so beautiful about the idea of this (hopefully) being one of only a few holiday seasons we spend just the two of us. We are so lucky to love our parents and cherish time with them. It was also chance to begin establishing what could become long-term traditions for us later down the road, a thrilling and terrifying thought. I’ve really enjoyed synthesizing our individual past traditions with new events for just the two of us. James has been pretty sick for the past week which put a bit of a damper on holiday celebration but has helped both of us to slow down, appreciate our cozy apartment, and curl up with laptops and books on our couch together.
When I consider my personal themes for 2015, what comes up are two concepts in particular: making regular, calculated leaps into the unknown to try new things I’ve always wanted to do. This has come up time and time again, as this year I made an effort to better align what I say I want out of my life with how I actually handle my day-to-day. I love being outdoors, so I’ve made an effort to go on hikes and be out in nature more often. I love getaways, so I’ve taken a few trips with relatively new friends in order to explore new places and opportunities, often leaving behind the comfort of James and sometimes even cell reception and internet. I retired my self-identification as a “Studio Artist” for the broader definition of “Creative Generalist”, recognizing that the aspect of art which speaks to me right now is the way in which it ties me to other creative-minded people. I will return to art when it serves me, but I won’t hide behind being an artist as the easy way to make artist friends.
With each passing year, I get more and more comfortable with who I am, and more and more okay knowing that I will never have all of the answers. The unknown used to be a completely terrifying world in which to dwell; one of my strongest guiding forces as I've explored my 20's has been recognizing when I'm afraid of trying something and doing it anyway. I feel confident that 2016 holds many incredible lessons for me and I can't wait to get into it. Happy New Year's Eve, everyone.