2019 was one heck of a year. I left for study abroad in late January while school had already begun at Illinois. I experienced a whirlwind of a semester in England until I left on the sixth of June. I had a mildly rough summer trying to revert back to an old job and schedule at home. I moved into my first apartment as a senior, and pushed myself through the fall semester until my very last final paper.
I was ecstatic to leave for England, a place I had dreamed of visiting since I can remember. It was more than a dream come true, and I can see myself living there one day. Although my head was in the clouds (quite literally while traveling), it was a slap in the face to navigate climbing down from that high the second half of the year. However, there are lessons I’ve learned over the course of the year that I would like to carry into the new year.
1. It Doesn’t Hurt to Try
This is the most important thing I realized this year. The concept of traveling, let alone studying abroad, was a new concept to me. Navigating a foreign country was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I went into local English shops and cafes, conversed in French in Paris, and navigated public transport. By no means was I an expert at navigating these new scenarios, but I was willing to try and make mistakes. You need to take that energy and just dive into new projects, jobs, activities, and relationships.
2. You Don’t Owe Anyone Anything
Without sounding cold, this can apply to a lot. A hug. Your time. Your response to that man at the bar. An extracurricular you dread going to. Think through the matter, and consider it.
3. You Only Get Out of it What You Put Into It
I admit I can hide in my introverted shell and find excuses for not putting in 100% effort. I believe this lesson works in conjunction with #1. If you want to enjoy your time in school, and you know you’re passionate about something, you need to foster that in the effort you put into your work. This last semester, I found myself in a funk with my studio work-paintings weren’t interesting to me, and studying felt foreign. On the flip-side, I really enjoyed working with screen printing which I hadn’t touched in years (shown above). I suppose I can partially blame it on a previous semester of constant learning in the classroom and in the British environment I was mesmerized by. Everything was new! Meanwhile, I am comfortable at U of I, as a college campus should feel, but it’s easy to fall into a lull. I hope you find what you love, and really make the most out of it.
4. Not Getting an Internship/Job Isn’t the End-All Be-All
I interviewed with multiple internships over the phone last spring, and alas came home with nothing for the summer. It hurt, especially as a junior. I look back at it now and see the interview process as experience I can use in future interviews, online, or in person.
5. Self Care Can Be the Best Care
Definition be damned, it’s whatever makes you happy and ultimately takes care of your momentary needs. You’ll find me staying in and reading a book, editing my portfolio, and drinking (spiked) hot chocolate this break. Journal it out. Light a candle. Binge watch that show. We’re done with the semester, and 2020 is right around the corner! I hope you reflect on what you’ve done this year and consider some of these reminders.
Happy New Year!