Someone asked me what I remembered the most from 2018 and the lessons that life has taught me in just a year. Initially, my mind went straight to the negative. But instead of dwelling on past events that I no longer have control over, I started to truly reflect on 2018. This year was actually amazing and granted me with various opportunities for reflection and self-growth.
January – June
The early side of 2018 was one in which I spent my time supporting my ex- partners dream of entering the military. The months preparing for his departure into boot camp, and continuing on with no communication for 2 months, were hard. But in that time frame I gained a perspective on myself that I never really had until just recently. I put my own wishes aside so that he had my support and encouragement. I sent him 3 letters per week while he was in boot camp so that he could have a little bit of comfort while there. At the time, I didn’t think much of this, simply because I thought it was the right thing to do. However, after looking back and hearing some stories, I found that not many people do these things for their partners when there is space between them. Although our time expired, I am now able to acknowledge my level of commitment, loyalty, and selflessness, that I was never truly aware of. Traits that I hope I can carry forward with me into 2019.
In the meantime, I was busy in school completing my undergraduate degree in psychology. I was also simultaneously applying for graduate school in order to pursue my own dreams of becoming a psychologist, a dream that seemed so close but so far away. I distinctively remember being at work when I received an email that would essentially change my life. In April, I was granted acceptance into a Master of Psychology program here in Toronto. Now, I know people would typically call their parents right away, but I called my best friend who showed me so much unconditional love and support when she found out. And shortly after, she too was granted admission. As this was unfolding, I didn’t feel as though I was excited for the future ahead, at least not until I could officially complete my undergraduate degree. In June, I officially graduated as an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology student. I don’t think anyone really prepares you for the moment when your name is called and you get to walk across that stage. It’s as though I felt nervous, happy, accomplished, and relief all at once. All I remember thinking was: Don‘t fall. Don’t fall. Shake all these peoples hands. Don’t fall. Don’t fall.
July – December
I spent most of my summer working and trying to get my mind off of things and meeting new people. I got tickets to the Vans Warped Tour Toronto date, where I caught up with friends and saw bands that I’ve admired for years, and met my favourite singer, Derek DiScanio. I saw the likes of State Champs, Crown the Empire, The Maine, Waterparks, etc. I also ran into one of my favourite people and past co-workers, Nail. Have you ever heard of that theory where they say being held tightly actually makes people feel better and has proven to be beneficial on several occasions? Well, just as I was starting to think about the memories I had with my ex-partner, I saw Neil. After he shouted “Oh my God! How are you gorgeous?!”, he gave me the biggest and digest hug that I’ve probably ever received. We caught up for a little bit, and ran into each other from time to time that day. I missed my friend, and to this day I don’t think he knows what he did for me in that moment. I also remember watching We the Kings while they were playing a song called I Feel Alive. I remember the lead singer, Travis, asking everyone to just forget about everything they’re going through, and be here with him in this moment. Something resonated with me when he Sid this, and I had this indescribable feeling of freedom. July was also the month I genuinely connected with someone, but thats a story for another day.
August was a month filled with adventure and uncharted territory. As a graduation gift to myself, I went to Europe with two of my best friends. We ventured through England, France, Switzerland, and Italy. From walking the grounds of Buckingham Palace, to sitting under the Eiffel Tower at night, this trip was anything short of breathtaking. I’ll admit, I fell in love with Switzerland and Italy. Lucerne, Switzerland is like a postcard. I woke up one morning, walked out onto my hotel balcony with my best friend looking up at the mountains that surrounded us, and just thought, can I leave my life behind and stay here forever? Part of me needs to go back to Lucerne, but another part of me longs for Venice and Rome. On a day to ourselves, while everyone else ventured to a nearby island, me and my best friend Felicia, ventured around Venice. Let me tell you, Venice is a labyrinth. Luckily, we didn’t get completely lost, but this was easily the best day of the whole trip. Yes ladies, Italian boys are absolutely. beautiful, but that wasn’t the only captivating thing about Venice. Sitting by the water watching the gondolas go by, eating fresh pizza, partially speaking my families native tongue.. I could go on forever about this trip. Maybe Ill put my trip into a separate post sometime soon. Needless to say, this was a journey of a lifetime. I met so many people, and so many amazing friendships were forged with individuals from all over the world. And definitely plan on visiting my New Zealand and Australian friends in the near future!
Coming back fro my trip meant one thing: school was starting soon. I was excited and nervous at the same time. This is my future. This is the point I’ve worked tirelessly to get into. Walking into a class full of unfamiliar faces can be intimidating. But within a matter of minutes, this room full of strangers become a room full of family. I have never been more grateful for a group of people who radiate nothing but positivity and genuine intent. This type of group is rare. We’re not in competition with each other, but instead we create a space for growth and development. If one person is feeling down, we all band together and life them up. It’s quite extraordinary. I truly believe that I have made friendships that will last a lifetime.
It was one of these friendships, along with my other close friends, that really helped me through a tough time. Without saying too much, I lost someone very dear to me back in 2016. Recent events in October had reopened the emotional wound that I had been tending to for years. I looked perfectly happy on the outside, but inside… I was a complete mess. I would wake up to messages from my friends asking me how I was, if I wanted company for the day, or even telling me to call them at any given time if I needed someone to talk to. I had support from everyone that mattered most to me. And that feeling, that feeling of just love and being genuinely cared for, was something I hadn’t felt in years. I hope everyone gets to experience this type of love on a daily basis.
November was a month filled with mixed emotions. I said see you later to one of my closest friends who is now living her best life in California. And although I miss her dearly, I know that she is happy, and most importantly, she is healing and growing. November was also the month that I did something that I have always wanted to do- get certified in suicide first aid. I took a 15 hour certification course in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) in order to help those who are contemplating suicide. I have a suicide first aid ticket on the back of my phone in hopes that someone who needs to talk will see it, and in turn come to talk to me if they would like to. Although a tender topic, suicide is something that I hold very close to my heart. Through this training, I can now confidently help those around me to the best of my abilities. I also have training for mental health first aid in February 2019. I would encourage anyone, mental health professional or not, to receive this training, because you don’t know who will need your help and the difference you could make.
As for December, well I’m living in it right now. This month has essentially been my zone of reflection for 2018. I recognize that I never saw the value of a moment while I was living it. I had to take a step back and appreciate it after the moment had passed. If anything, this year has taught me to be grateful for the moments we have, the opportunities that we are granted, and for the people we get to know and meet. I have learned to be present in a moment, and appreciate it while its happening, instead of thinking about anything other than what’s right in front of me. 2018 has shown me that yeah, life has its unfortunate moment that you cant always control, but you can control how you react to them. I’ve loved and I’ve lost. I’ve. been told that my happiness is reliant on me finding another person and being happy with them. I’ve been told that I need to find myself again. But thats the thing, I was never lost. I was almost always happy, single or not. I have definitely changed this year. But thats just is, who said that I have to stay the same? Welcome change, embrace it, and become it. Evolve.
I just wanted to take the time to acknowledge a few people that made my year beyond special:
- Felicia, one of my best friends, your unconditional love and support has helped me in ways that you will never know. I genuinely cant picture not having you in my life. Thank you for always being there for me and wiping away my tears during my rough patches Our friendship is something that I cant put into words. You’re essentially the sister I have always wanted
- Ryan, I have never known someone who could give me mental and emotional support the way that you can. We have known each other for a little while and you understand me in ways that not many people do. Your patience with me is unparalleled and I cant picture my world without you in it. Thank you for sticking by me through it all
- Chantal, I cannot being to express how happy I am to have met you back in June. Our friendship is something I will always cherish. Thank you for always having my back, for dealing with me 24/7, and for your constant encouragement. I cant wait for next semester, but most importantly, I cant wait to watch our friendship become even stronger than it already is
- Jonathan, we ma not speak everyday but you always check-in to see how I’m doing. Our conversations allow me to think clearly and rationally, and you give me some of the best advice. Thank you for being my voice of reason when I’m overly stressed.
- Monica, I am so happy that we reconnected when we did. Words cannot capture all of the things I want to say. Your constant encouragement and trust in my abilities, and just me as a person, mean the absolute world. I am so proud of the person you are, and the person you’re becoming
- Steph, Nicole, Alessia S., Brittany, Chelsea, Danielle, Celina, Daniela, Michelle, Jessica, Alessia C., Veronica, Alex, & Neil, thank you for every single thing that that each of you has done for me this year. You have all played a part in my 2018 that has made it as special and as significant as it is. Here’s to more memories, laughter, and smiles.