2014: A Year for Myself

I had a hard time picking the title for this blog post, but A Year for Myself seems so fitting. At the start of the year, I was finding myself after I left my first long term boyfriend just a few months before, and let myself be confident, sassy, and self-critiqued. I spent some time working out, adapting to a new vegan lifestyle, and pouring all of my love into my friends. I worked a full time job, a part time job, and shot weddings as well as my own photography on the side, all to save up money for this grandiose move to (somewhere along the lines of) the west coast. I found a new person to share my time with and fell in love more quickly and thoroughly than I knew I was capable, and then made the decision to move together come fall. I spent a month traveling alone, meeting up with my beloved internet friends, and letting a lot of my insecurities and fears arise so I could begin to face them. I settled down just outside of Portland and now am busy trying to make ends meet with my incredible boyfriend. And here we are: at the close of the most exciting and rollercoaster-like years of my life thus far.  I always write a post about the year in summary, partially for documenting so I can come back and see it later, and partially to let everyone know where I'm at and where I came from just 365 days ago.

In year's past, I try to summarize the year by going month to month and checking all of my social media platforms to remember what happened, but I'd like to switch it up and categorize by what I felt was the most important.

First and foremost: My wonderful, talented, beautiful, selfless, loving, and best friends. I relied on you to get me through a breakup, find out who I am by myself, and stand next to me when I decided I was ready for the next life step. You followed me on journeys to different states, encouraged me that packing up and moving was a brilliant idea, and never let me sink too far into my own occasional self-pity. I owe most of you more than I can ever repay, and am beyond grateful for the overall positive impact you've made on my life.

Part 2: Throughout this year, I've spent the most amount of time with Rob, my new boyfriend and my love. We first bonded over a trip to the ER after a bad wisdom teeth extraction, and have spent countless hours laugh-crying, showing each other music in our cars and at shows, and traveling to see our friends. I got to show you parts of Madison you had never stumbled across in 26 years, and you showed me what it's like to have a family that loves you unconditionally. You gave me pure love that I thought was only achieved in perfect lives, and opened me up to being myself around a partner in a totally new way. I fell faster for you and feel more for you than any other human, and I owe you lot more than I can give right now.

Part 3: The incredible, inspiring, and brand new places and faces that I got to photograph. I made sure to see everything I could on a cross-country trip, photographed some old friends and new faces, and really got a chance to love the photos I took. I found more direction in what I ultimately want to photograph, and never want to set my camera down (even if I'm on a bit of a break right now).

Part 4: An important gallery never to be taken for granted: Selfies! I'm constantly taking photos of myself and I love watching the progression of myself age over the year, as well as past years, and will never be ashamed of how many selfies of me exist.

And finally, a summary of what I learned in 2014. I know this is getting lengthy, but what can I say? When I summarize, I actually write novels and keep typing until I'm tired of it. Oh well! So, here's what I've learned:

  1. If you don't start to like yourself now, you're probably not ever going to. Remember to be kind to yourself, because you really, honestly deserve a break. It may sound cliche, but liking parts of you that you hadn't before can bring out a whole different side of your personality that may have been lost.
  2. Most of the things you do in life don't really matter. I'm not saying this as a way to feel insignificant or small, but to be empowered and a little more free spirited. I was on the road for 4 weeks straight this summer, which included a lot of changing my clothes in parking lots, saying what I want to say to strangers I'll never see again, and not feeling guilty for not showering for days on end in the hot summer weather. Those small things really don't matter and don't define your character, I promise.
  3. Take more photos of what matters and less photos of what doesn't. What you ate usually doesn't matter, but how your boyfriend makes you cry tears of pure happiness at 2am is something you want to hold on to. Also, I'm really over this trend of taking pictures of strangers doing weird things so we can post it on the internet. Just let people be and have a little more compassion.
  4. Less is almost always more. After ridding myself of 2/3 of the things I own, I genuinely feel a lot lighter. I didn't need 30 Tupperware containers because 6 or 7 works just fine. I realized a ton of things had basically no meaning to me, and the only reason I was keeping said items were that hopefully, if I ever came across them in the boxes of junk I hide in the closet, I'd think about a memory I had because of that item. And that just wasn't enough reason for me to keep it.
  5. Don't compare your experiences to the experiences of your peers. I'm friends with a lot of photographers, designers, cinematographers, and the like. With that much inspiration, creativity, and originality flowing, it's easy to look at someone's trip to the coast or summer camping trip and wish yours was like that too. It's also very easy for those same people to encapsulate a perfect and picturesque life on the internet without ever writing about or photographing the not-so-great parts. Your experiences are yours, including all the times that aren't so picture perfect. 
  6. Follow through. Enter personal relationships with a feeling that they'll be around for the long haul (even if it's just a grocery store interaction or even a temporary coworker), because beginning a relationship with the idea that it doesn't matter because we won't be in contact in 5 minutes, 2 weeks, or 6 months is a pretty awful outlook. Set goals for yourself and fully take them on. Whether that's brushing your teeth for an entire 2 minutes, remembering to slow down and really take in what's happening around you, or taking into consideration what consequence (or upside!) each action will have, following through is actually quite a big deal.
  7. Do way, way more. Volunteer at the women's shelter like you wanted to. Go hiking at a new spot rather than sleeping in on your days off. Take long drives instead of having another night alone with Netflix and naps. Read more books, and read more books that are a step out of your typical teen-fiction genre. Show Rob you love him in new ways. Keep in touch with allllllll those people back home, because you love them just the same from 2,000+ miles away. Try tons of new foods, even though you probably will only kind of enjoy them.