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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Although 2023 had a wide variety of fluctuations, it also provided me with several opportunities for personal growth. Now that it’s the end of the year, I think it’s important to reflect on how my life has advanced and what I can do to further this development.

The new year always begins with the seemingly longest months of the year, January and February. The achingly slow pace was only exacerbated by the shooting that occurred at MSU, which had my following months of March and April consisting of a poor mental state. With my motivation lacking and my grades suffering, it was difficult for me to climb back up from this low point. Despite this, I’m proud of the way I bounced back, recovering my grades just as final exams approached.

Having received the opportunity to live in New York for a teaching fellowship, I was looking forward to a summer in Brooklyn. This opportunity allowed for many aspects of growth, including a wide range of good and bad experiences. I was grateful for the chance to thrive socially, gaining the skill of interacting with various new people, such as my fellow interns, school staff, and most importantly, my students. In the work aspect, I was able to put my teaching into practice, experiencing for the first time what it’s like to teach in front of a classroom full of students. I can’t explain the significance of how this connection to my students has transformed my life and my career journey, and I am incredibly grateful for the ability to grow alongside them. 

Given this, however, I also needed to learn how to navigate working in a toxic work environment for an institution whose beliefs I did not align with. Speaking out against authority figures has always been a great fear of mine, but through the situation I experienced, I was able to voice numerous concerns and persevere past this barrier. My therapist told me that bad experiences are good experiences because they allow for a glimpse into harsh reality. The reality I faced was an inherently flawed and unyielding institution, but I’m extremely proud of the way I stayed true to myself and advocated for what I believe in. 

Moving past this anxiety-inducing circumstance, it was slightly strenuous to prepare myself for school again. The fall semester started before I was ready for it, and my motivation faltered. During the first month, I was fighting to remain caught up with the curriculum and balance my work and social life. It wasn’t until the middle of the semester that I was able to ground myself and begin taking my classes seriously. Even though it had a rough start, the semester was able to run back on track. This was a moment when my growth was finally visible to me; in previous semesters, my lack of motivation would’ve only had a snowball effect, digging me deeper behind, but being able to resuscitate my work ethic had set me apart from my past failures.

In summation, this year was able to grant me so many new perspectives and growth areas. I’ve changed for the better in so many aspects during these 12 months, and I hope to persist in this. I’m never one to write resolutions for the new year because I know how difficult it is to abide by them. That said, my only condition for 2024 is to continually pursue opportunities for growth, certain that I can stay true to this.

Tracy Li is in her fourth year at Michigan State University, majoring in Mathematics and Secondary Education. She is a social media assistant for the Michigan State chapter. While her major is not aligned with writing, she has a deep passion for it, particularly in the form of creative writing. In her spare time, she enjoys crocheting, painting, and embroidering.