Golden hour at a lake (while following social distancing guidelines, of course)!

Hi everyone! This is Emily! With the closing of a hectic year, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the small triumphs of 2020. That said, I want to avoid romanticizing a year that’s caused so much global grief, especially when I cannot speak for those disproportionately affected. As with any period of life, there are certain lessons we learn and types of tenacity we gain. Here are some I hope to take into 2021:

1) Take a step back and read the room. When life moves quickly, it’s easy to get warped into needless competition: diminishing people’s struggles, “humble bragging”, judging people prematurely. While I’ve regretfully done many of these things, I’m working on being patient with myself & my peers. More importantly, I’ve learned to stop perpetuating toxic narratives of self-pity at the expense of others. We’re all stumbling around under the same beautiful stars, trying our best to find meaning in this confusing world.

2) Embrace vulnerability (intelligently). Give people chances but consider when to remove your emotional investment. It’s possible to support someone’s journey towards self-growth while abstaining from daily interactions with them. Draining conversations are very much a real thing, and you don’t owe people your time if you've vocalized your expectations. Set boundaries and be forgiving with yourself when there’s friction in relationships; every situation is different, and don’t feel guilty to reassess your degree of involvement.

3) Growth can be achingly slow. Second semester of junior year was when I hit rock bottom. My journals were filled with jumbled, turbulent self-hatred, and I internalized that I was never going to be considered "special." Allow yourself to plan and rip out pages, to recover and then relapse, to laugh with friends and then cry alone. I'm not happy all the time yet, but I'm finally at peace, and I hope you're all working towards getting there. As Isabel Allende says, “Happiness is pure kitsch. We come into the world to suffer and learn.”

With those ideas in mind, here were the resolutions I laid out for 2021:

1) Explore hobbies unapologetically. When you do things competitively, your relationship with that area changes. In 2021, I want to create for the sake of creating and experiment for the sake of experimenting. Some goals include: read at least 30 books (not that large of a number, but I know that I’ll be adjusting to college!), maintain a bullet journal, cut down on clothing expenses (learn to thrift flip!), and experiment with some makeup looks! To those reading: please don't make your friends uncomfortable for trying new things, and remember to hype them up always!

A modified form of Gigi Hadid's pasta, tossed with steamed broccoli & bacon. My first venture into cooking non-breakfast foods!

2) Find a sustainable rate of productivity. My senioritis is quite honestly pretty bad. For the past 2 months, I've been binge watching Among Us videos, procrastinating on college apps, and ranting endlessly to friends. While self-care is so, so important, I also hope to find a healthy headspace that encourages fun encounters with knowledge (e.g. bracketing out time for schoolwork, listening to podcasts, researching more for debate)! Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand, and I’m making it a goal to work out 4-5 times a week and learn to cook more recipes by myself (I’m a big pasta fanatic!!). Lastly, with college a few months away, I’m committing myself to some 4-year planning -- all while leaving room for spontaneous risk-taking.

Carousel imageCarousel image

Some spreads from my 2021 bullet journal!

While I hope these reflections were interesting or helped spark inspiration, please remember that you don’t need to have it all figured out. You don’t have to transform into a new, perfect person when the clock hits 12. But, if you find comfort in constructing fresh starts, use this as an opportunity to continue the journeys you’ve been pursuing. Here's to manifesting a happy, healthy 2021 that helps everyone heal. Be kind to yourselves!