My love letter to 2018

*DISCLAIMER* I actually wrote an entirely different “love letter” to 2018 before I wrote this one. In my old one, I focused on things like overcoming heartbreak, figuring out who I was, and a few other things. Then a few days later (today, 12/31, I went to publish it, and I stopped myself. I suddenly felt very differently about how I wanted to remember 2018. So what you’re about to read (if you’re interested!) is what a recap of what I did, what I learned, and what I want for myself in 2019. My wish for you, reader, is that you’re able to resonate with just one tiny thing that I write about. And if you don’t, that’s ok! My wish is that you take 2019 by the balls and make it yours. We got this.



If you’ve been following me for a while, then it’s possible that you read the letter that I wrote last New Years – my love letter to 2017. When I wrote it, I was super fresh off of a hard breakup, and I was feeling scared and vulnerable, but also excited. There was so much my heart was confused over, and yet, the thought of what a new year could bring – what could bring – that’s what left me buzzing with hope.

2018 was such a year. So it’s only right that it gets a love letter of it’s own, no?

Dear 2018,

To understand what motivated me for you, we need to rewind a little bit. In August of 2017, my family suffered a massive loss from the death of my Uncle Scott. This man was incredible. Was he perfect? Nope. But he was loving. He was kind. He was someone who gave back, not just with money but with time. He was someone who asked how your day was going and genuinely wanted to know, whether you were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or the valet guy at the restaurant. At his funeral, there were literally over a thousand people that showed up – that’s the first thing that struck me as incredible, because it was overwhelming how many people wanted to be there to pay their respects. But what stuck with me most was what someone said during his eulogy. That my Uncle Scott was the kind of guy who played offense – never defense. He worked incredibly hard, but he also played incredibly hard. He lived a full life and made more memories in his 40 something years than most people make in 80.

I walked away from that vowing that I would do the same. I think about him almost every day, and remind myself that life is short and that I want to take as many opportunities as I can to experience it all. So that’s what I did in 2018. I experienced everything I could.

When I wrote my letter last year, I decided that 2018 was going to be my “year of yes”. If something intrigued me, even a little bit, I was going to do it. Which is how I ended up getting so many stamps in my passport! January? Spent a long weekend in Tulum, Mexico. March? Spent a week in the most gorgeous villa I’ve ever seen with my family in Costa Rica. The summer saw a smattering of trips to the beaches in Montauk and Rhode Island. October? Hopped on a plane and split a week between Portugal and Morocco, and celebrated my 26th birthday in Marrakech. HOW did I get so lucky?! I got to zipline through rainforests and jungles, get soaked while white water rafting down rapids, take a mud bath in natural springs, ride a camel in the desert and shop in the souks. And every time I did it, I thought of my uncle and smiled a little bit, because I know he’d be proud that I was going on all of these adventures.

Not to bury the lead, but my favorite part in my “year of yes”? Completing the NYC marathon. It didn’t require a stamp in my passport – just a ticket on the Staten Island ferry. But it was, by far, one of the proudest moments I’ve had in my life. Did I run every step? HELL NO. But I moved throughout every inch of those 26.2 miles, across Staten Island and Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx and finally, Manhattan. And it hurt and I was tired and I cried when I crossed the finish like. But I did it. I crossed the finish line. And I’m already looking forward to doing it again in November.

But when playing hard, one must also be working hard, which is why I made a career change in March of this year. After almost 3 years at XO Group, I moved on by taking a leap of faith at a small start up company in  the digital marketing space. Within two months, I was given the opportunity to start managing someone under me, and a few months after that, I was also given the opportunity to lead in cultivating our agency’s relationships with major national and international publishers. I’m working harder than I ever have before in my career. I come in on weekends, I answer calls and emails on major national holidays, I frequently stay far later than what’s expected. But I know that the work I’m putting in now will not only pay off down the road, but helps me to build the kind of reputation in my industry and with my clients that I’m proud to have. I can now confidently say that I’m an extremely hard worker, that I’m proud of the work I put out there and that I’m growing and improving every single day.

For the last 6 months or so, I’ve put my blog on the back burner. I have grossly neglected it, hardly posting new blog posts or Instagram photos. I’ve been so focused on actually living life, that I’ve forgotten to post about it. For a while, I felt guilty and burdened by that. It bothered me that I started something and wasn’t giving it the attention it needed to flourish. It bothered me that my follower count wasn’t growing, or that I wasn’t getting as many brands wanting to collaborate with me. But I recently reminded myself of why I started this blog in the first place. I started it because I wanted to have a place to express my thoughts and feelings, to get things off my chest, to have a healthy, cathartic, creative outlet. And that’s what this still is. I know that I have this place where I can come and vent and share experiences, whether they’re sad or exhilarating, and that it’s mine. I know I’ll come back to it with more heart at some point, but it’s not something I want to force.

In 2019, I want to grow. I hope that one year from now, I’m writing about how I’ve grown as a person. How I’ve become more humble, more patient, more understanding. I hope that I’ll become better at apologizing first. I hope that I’ll learn more about how to treat my body better – not necessarily to lose weight, but to have better overall health, physically and mentally. I hope I’ll continue to become a better friend, sister and daughter. I hope I’m sitting here, one year from now, proud of who I am.

xoxo,

AJ

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