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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that 2020 was not a great year. I found myself starting 2021 depressed, out of a recent car accident and brokeーboth financially and emotionally. There were so many things that I did not have clear and also many more that I wanted to do, but did not know how to. Between the pandemic, feeling academically lost and getting drained due to work and many other factors, I wasn’t hopeful for a new year to come around because I thought all my problems would keep me company upon the arrival of the new annual celebration. I didn’t have any will or motivation to really start out the year, specifically after losing my car just a few days before the year ended. I knew that to get where I am today I would have to work extremely hard; but at the moment I felt powerless. I truly did not believe in myself; or, more specifically, that I had all the power to turn my life completely around. 

Without a time machine to go travel back in time and fix what was failing, before I knew it, fireworks were in the air and a new year that I was clearly not ready for started. As the first few days quickly ended with the same negative thoughts in my head, it was clear a change in mindset had to come quickly. As cheesy as it may sound, the only person between you and what you want to obtain is yourself. The fog in my head was so blinding that I didn’t realize that I had such a great support system. Even so, the only thing missing for all this to work was me. We could have all the support in the world, but at the end of the day, no one will live your life for you.

 After the festivities were officially over I decided to jump into gear. I started to change not only the way that I saw myself, but also how I did things. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t like something, there are two options: you accept it and live with it or you do something about it. I refused to accept my reality at the beginning of the year. Although my head wasn’t 100% committed towards what I was trying to do, my heart was. I felt knocked down so many times during the past year that the remote idea of building myself up again just to get knocked down again seemed so scary. In essence, I came to learn that life is  basically about that, getting knocked down and finding new and creative ways to bounce back better than the last time. And that is what I did all throughout 2021. 

Before I realized what was happening, everything started to slowly come together. Little by little everything I felt I lost in 2020 I started to regain in ways I never thought would happen in 2021. Both material and emotional things I longed for, started to arrive. Also, things I didn’t need started to disappear. Although painful, people left and experiences ended; but with them, so many new things started to arrive. It all went back to how creatively I came back from every situation I had to face (and they are so many). 

Deciding little by little to not only value myself but to invest in myself started to give me the strength to manage everything that was going on in my life. Life isn’t easyーwhile 2021 has been arguably one of the best years of my life, there were moments where I wanted to drop everything and run. Of course, every triumph comes with it’s obstacles. When your obstacles take form as people you thought were friends, work opportunities that turned out to be toxic and men/women who just want your attention or success, it could be very easy to lose sight of what is really important. This is why, out of everything I learned this year, I set a personal goal to trust my instincts and only do things that feel right, despite other peoples’ opinions on my decisions. While I can say 2021 has been a year of great success, it has been due to the extreme hard work I’ve put into it. I decided against all odds to bet on myself and work on everything from medical procedures, acne, fitness to obtaining academic and professional success I definitely did not expect to achieve so early on in my life. 

However, as I look back at all the heartache, pain and struggles I also take a wide look at the growth I’ve had this year. Despite where I am today or tomorrow, I’m insanely proud of where I was, where I am now and even more so where I’m going. Investing in yourself is by far the best thing you could do. As change started to arrive, I started to open myself up both physically and emotionally to the idea of things for so long I did not even feel ready to talk about it. Amongst the success I’ve had this year, the stumbles I’ve had after I decided to date again are one of the biggest victories I reap from this year. I went from being only work-driven to expanding my social agenda and allowing myself the chance to FEEL. I knew I invested all of myself in work during previous years. This year was different, on the other hand, because I strived for myself in every aspect of my life. Between all the hardship, the disappointments and the wins of this year I gave myself the chance to retrospect, rest and validate my emotions; despite my intense work ethic. 

I knew getting here wouldn’t be easy, but now that I’m here, I’m so much hungrier for more. Every year should be a year you decide to invest in yourself, no matter how scary, hopeless or impossible it might feel. For now, writing this article in my new job as creative director almost feels like I’m the main character in a movie. In reality, I am the main character of my life. So are you of your own. The minute you realize that and decide to invest in yourself and your goals, you’ll not only achieve them, but also accomplish so much more. Here is to a new year full of goals, change and a lot of girlbossing. Cheers!

José is majoring in Public Relations and Advertising. This communication undergraduate student from the UPR Río Piedras campus is an energetic Pisces with a passion for fashion, coming of age films, books, crossfit, and dance. Currently, José is a writer for HerCampus, the Public Relations director at Pulso Estudiantil, and a creative executive for the Puerto Rican designer Nathalie Kriado.
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