It has been quite a year, to say the least.
It’s kind of a little bit overwhelming to think that another year of time has passed in my life.
A whole 8760 hours.
And it’s also very strange because this is the first time in my life where I am able to look back on the past 12 months and remember all of the things that I went through, very specifically, that led me to get to the point that I am at right now.
I usually have a pretty terrible memory.
But this year, I remember.
I ended the year of 2016 in a really rough place. I was confused, depressed, irritated. All of the typical emotions that one feels after a hard breakup. But the worst thing I was struggling with was trying to reorganize my life because I had let it fall to shambles during December of 2016. (Low point…crying on Christmas day in front of my whole entire family) I had allowed myself to be completely absorbed in to my relationship, and had become someone that I very much was not. And I don’t blame anyone but myself for that. I wasn’t mature or developed enough to be as committed as I thought I wanted to be, which in the end, was my downfall. But I went in to January 2017 feeling hopeful. I had so many people surrounding me that loved me, cared about me, and supported me, which really helped my year start off on the right foot.
Throughout January, I was able to focus on myself. I was able to step back and find all of the things that I love about myself – the things that make me, me. I spent a lot of time writing (as most of you would probably know), reading, drawing, doodling, eating, exploring, spending time with family, spending time with friends, and taking photos of myself.
Something that I lost was the act of taking selfies. Which may sound dumb, but bare with me. I put a lot of time and effort in to my instagram page, and in 2016, I posted more photos of the sky with sad, sappy, kind of pathetic captions than I did anything else.
And that’s not me. That’s not the person I am, or want to ever be.
Instead, I want to radiate energy and happiness. I have always been the goofy, giggly, outgoing, crazy girl. I have always been the one to laugh at my own jokes, no matter how stupid they were. I have always been the one that wanted to make people happy.
And that was something that I gained back in January.
In February, I began my celebration of the last year of my second decade. Again, I did lots of reading, eating, and exploring and my writing took a turn towards poetry. I began scribbling down all of the random thoughts I would have throughout the day in a little journal, and then spent lots of time piecing them together later on.
One of my greatest memories of 2017 was on the day of my birthday, when the clock struck midnight, signifying that it officially was my day. I was in an uber, traveling from one party to the next with five close friends. At 11:59 pm, we asked the driver if it was okay if we put down all of the windows and even opened the sunroof. As soon as it turned to 12:00 am, all of us screamed at the top of our lungs for a full minute. The wind was rushing by and causing our hair to fill the car as other cars were flying past – their headlights blurry. It felt like that moment in Perks of Being A Wallflower when they are driving through the tunnel; when everything just felt paused and nothing in the world mattered but that very moment.
And the irony of the situation is that, that is how I have tried to live the past year. By only focusing on the very moment that I am in and stop worrying about so much.
On my birthday, I got my fourth tattoo, which is the aquarius constellation on the back of my left arm.
“Affectionate; progressive; intellectual; witty; honest; sarcastic; spontaneous; creative; independent. Aquarius.” – my caption on instagram to debut the new addition.
As I look back on this, I think that getting that tattoo was probably the best thing I could do to ring in my 20th year. One thing I have done this past year is get more in touch with my aquarius being and try to understand how being born on February 11 really defines me as a person. I am sure that many people out there don’t believe in horoscopes and all of that mumbo jumbo, but it truly is meaningful to me, and having that tattoo pushed me to understand even further what it truly meant.
March. A very tough month for me, both physically and mentally. In the beginning of the month, I discovered that I had mono…and had had it for over a month. This helped explain my constant drowsiness and lack of energy that I had been battling since the end of the last semester, that I had just blamed on other reasons. Then, after traveling to and from Canada on an architectural adventure for the first half of spring break, I sustained a pretty awful concussion while snowboarding in New York during the second half. I didn’t realize how bad the concussion was until I got back to school. I was walking to class the morning of the first day of classes, and as I stepped out of my apartment building, I immediately felt blinded by the sun. Yes, the sun was always pretty bright, but that morning, my eyes actually felt strained and burned.
After that day came 10 days of trying to determine how bad the concussion was, followed by another two weeks of rest. This included lots of sleep, sitting in my dark room by myself, eating specific vitamins, and no interaction with screens.
Being an architecture major with no access to screens is very difficult.
I live on my laptop.
So there was a threat of having to take a medical leave for the semester, which would have caused me to lose all the credits I was currently taking, and fall behind in my academic load.
And i was terrified.
I did not want to have to take a leave of absence.
But I was able to fully recover just in time for my final project to start in design, which I was extremely thankful for.
I was definitely able to learn how important it is to follow rules and instructions, and also patience.
And falling to such a low point of dealing with so much at one time, allowed me to come back stronger and strive for a high point.
April flew by. Like most months, I was running around like crazy between social things, classes and all the other stuff I have going on in my life, but for some reason Aprils always seem to just disappear out from under me. It’s probably because the end of the semester is getting to be so close. I wasn’t able to do as much writing or reading, and didn’t feel the need to spend as much time on myself because I was settled. I had fallen back into my groove again. I was bopping around like Kayla. As many of my friends had told me…they had finally gotten their Kayla back.
Although she has been my ROCK for more than just the month of April, this is the month where I want to make a shout out to my best friend, Vanessa. I don’t normally like to mention specific people in my posts, but V is very different. I really would not have been able to get through the past year if it wasn’t for her, and would definitely not be the person I am today if she didn’t constantly push me to be a better person and see the beauty in myself. The best thing I can say about Vanessa is that she conquers the world while wearing 7 inch stilettos and makes it look easy. I have never been blessed enough with a friend that I look up to so greatly, and I am so thankful for her every day.
In May, I finished my fourth semester of school and hit the ground running with summer.
I am going to group May, June, July and most of August together, because every day was pretty repetitive for me.
- I had my first full time job.
- My first full time job was an architecture-related internship, which allowed me to gain some real-life experience and hands-on learning in my desired field.
- I had my first waitressing job.
- I met a lot of new, great people.
- I worked two other jobs on the side.
- I was able to put away a lot of money which has and will continue to help me through the school year.
- I lived at home so I had no bills!
- My parents bought their first home (!!!!).
- I got to decorate my bedroom in said new home.
- I worked a full time job.
- I worked a part-time job.
- I worked two other jobs on the side.
- I worked a full time job, part-time job, and two other jobs on the side.
- I didn’t see my family too much.
- I didn’t see my friends too much.
- I had only a couple days off.
All in all, I spent a lot of time working this summer. This was my first real experience with having such a set schedule every day. But, it provided me with so much insight about what the real world consists of and allowed me to see a true perspective in my field. I will forever be grateful for that. And in general, I am so thankful that I had all the opportunities that I did for work this summer, because without them, I would not have been able to finance this school year. With the money I was able to make, I can afford to live in a beautiful four bedroom house near campus, with two (soon to be three) awesome roommates. As I move into the next semester, I have began to think about what I am going to do this summer for work and for living. Although I do not want to have to work as much as I did last summer, if I do, I at least will be able to say that I have the experience under my belt and I am not going in blind (like last summer).
At the end of August, I moved in to my house with my two roommates, and began my fifth semester. It was definitely an adjustment trying to get used to living off campus and having to commute to school. Especially because on the third day of class, my car broke down on the street while I was driving to class, and then later that day, my laptop broke. But after figuring out those two issues, I was able to fall back in to the swing of things.
September was just another typical September at school for me.
Lots of work. Lots of long nights in studio. Lots of missing sleep.
Group projects. Studying. Snacking. More group projects.
But I was able to add something new to my life, which was becoming the Junior Class President. Although I knew it would require a time dedication to be involved with the Student Government Association, I was highly underestimating the amount of work that I would have to do. And there are two reasons why this caused me a lot of stress – 1, Philadelphia University merged with Thomas Jefferson University and officially became one university as TJU. SGA plays a crucial role in this merge process, so I was able to attend countless meetings with higher-ups to discuss lots of different student-oriented topics. 2, third year of architecture school is just known as being the toughest year. It is kind of like the make it or break it year. And man, does it break you.
But I have no regrets at all. Having so much on my plate allowed me to feel important and involved – a feeling that I have missed since graduating high school. And I have never been afraid to be overly involved, as you could see by my high school resume.
Oh, and I got a new car!!! (Thank you, mama)
October was again more school. But on top of the school, I began to feel a constant agony of loneliness that I had not experienced since the beginning of the year.
Loneliness is a strange feeling, because it completely creeps up on you out of nowhere.
You can be doing fine, and feeling great and positive and confident…but then one Friday night, you could have nothing to do, and could get so depressed because you’re sitting in your bedroom, on your bed, just eating ice cream and watching Netflix.
Which is what I did a lot this semester.
If I wasn’t in studio, I was just laying in my bed, doing nothing except thinking.
Which eventually caught up to me in the worst way possible.
So I found myself going home very often. Out of the blue, completely unplanned.
Just so I could be around people that I knew cared about me and loved me.
November, that same issue continued and I found myself going home way too often.
I realized that I have a dependency on my family, that I have not quite fully been able to understand.
But I was allowing the issues in my life to be worse by forcing myself to be around people that I had grown away from.
This finally allowed me to see how crucial it is to surround yourself with people that care, love, appreciate and understand you. I learned that it is perfectly okay for people to come and go out of your life.
So I made a move for myself and removed myself from those relationships in hopes of creating a better atmosphere.
And I think it helped.
Although it is difficult to not have a ton of close friends at school, I have been forced to become more independent and comfortable with myself. This includes simple things like going grocery shopping alone or eating a meal by myself.
Learning to be more comfortable with this has been a great lesson for me after coming out of a relationship where I completely lost my sense of independence.
And just in the knick of time, I was able to come home for Thanksgiving break and see all my home friends that truly just bring me complete happiness and remind me why I love NEPA and my roots here.
And again, I am going to take another chance and make a shoutout to Matthew for being the greatest best friend that I could ever ask for. (He probably doesn’t read my posts) but Matthew has been my best friend since pre-k, and has been by my side for all of my weakest moments. Anyone who knows Matt, knows how incredible of a human being he is, so I won’t bother explaining too much. Instead, I’m going to quote something he told me in 2016, during one of those weak moments.
“…for right now, what you need to know is that whatever happens, you will find yourself headed down the right path. It’s rare that things that are beneficial come easy and don’t take a toll on you. You need to start looking up to yourself. I know that you’re one tough girl who has the ability and strength to get through the worst situations. Remember to smile tomorrow.”
And finally…December. A beautiful finish to beautiful year.
I finished my fifth semester and have been able to relax at home in NEPA, surrounded by friends and family. It is always so nice to be able to celebrate the holidays and be thankful for all that I am blessed with.
And this December was special because I focused a lot on looking back at the year and acknowledging all the self growth I have accomplished.
So to conclude…
It’s been a long year. It’s strange how at the beginning of every new year, it’s hard to imagine the end of it but then it comes so dang quickly.
And it’s been nothing short of a tough year. I faced many unexpected ups and downs, speed bumps and hiccups.
But I have learned that that is life. Life is not easy. It throws curve balls.
And throughout it all, I have focused on myself for the first time in my life. Baths, moments of silence, better meals, more selfies, importance on music, more shown appreciation for who I am and who I have the capability of being.
And as I look back on the past year, I see so much change in my life.
Isn’t it ironic that in the moment, it doesn’t feel like anything is different, but when you look back, your whole entire life is flipped around?
I am no longer in love, I no longer rely on specific people, I care more about different things.
I have began to step back and accept moments for what they are and not worry about what they could have been. I try to see the bigger perspective of the fact that this is my life, every single moment is a miniscule part of my life. And every miniscule moment that I spend worrying, is a negative moment in my life that I will never get back.
But my greatest accomplishment in 2017 was learning to appreciate who I am. Seeing my self worth. Embracing my individuality.
So looking forward into the new year, I hope for myself to keep moving in a positive direction. I have been able to grow so much as a person in the past year that I can only hope this new year brings the same for me.
And although this was an extremely long post, I feel that it was necessary.
I have been wanting to do a recap for a very long time, and I am glad that I was able to finally do it.
So to the faithful readers that have read until this sentence – thank you.
And I’m sorry…because it’s been awhile.
2 Comments Add yours
Kayla, what an impressive post. I am a bit envious since I have always wanted to journal but have a hard time putting my thoughts into words.
I enjoyed very much reading about your thoughts , fears and accomplishments. I am so proud to be your Grammie and have lots of love in my heart for you.
This has been a great way to keep up on you. Thanks for sharing….
Love you, Grammie
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Thank you gram, love you too