You’re probably hearing this a lot, but WOW. I can’t believe it’s 2018! Trying to think of a good way to describe the last year is harder than I imagined it would be. “Rollercoaster” feels too tame… “whirlwind” is more accurate.
I rode into 2017 on a hot mess of highs and lows. Even after a year and a half, I was still struggling to find my place in a huge college community. Not knowing what else to do, I dove headfirst into figuring out who I was, what I wanted, and how to get there.
These are the biggest things that happened:
1. Hit the road (twice)
Winter break, maybe 15 years ago, en route to Disney World, I flew for the first time. Not counting dreams, because I had plenty of flight experience if we include those. That’s when the travel bug seeds were planted, growing more each year. Sometime in middle school I articulated my dream of filling up a passport with stamps from the various countries I’d visit.
It’s not quite full yet, but I did get to travel on my own this year. My friend and I went to Spain for 2 weeks, planning the entire trip ourselves. We stayed in AirBnBs, walked miles every day, frequented coffee shops, and soaked up all the art. I essentially butchered the language, but did come out knowing a few key phrases (¿dónde está el baño?).
Then, about 7 months later, a different friend (the inspiration for these cookies) and I jetted off to San Diego. Speaking the language made it infinitely easier, which meant way less planning in advance. It was a week of soaking up the sun, watching Younger on Netflix (highly recommend), and wandering the city.
2. Grew apart from food rules
Ever since starting Lenses and Lentils I’ve grown much more aware of what I was (and was not) eating. Sure, this has advantages and disadvantages, but doesn’t everything?
Posting pictures of my food on Instagram occasionally did leave me feeling vexed that my bowl didn’t look as pretty as the next person’s. The longer I spent on social media, the more focused I became on what I ate, yet that was the kicker. You don’t know what I’d give to say with infallible certainty that I still would have reached the same conclusion, except I can’t. There’s just no way to know. What I do know, though, is that with each new recipe I developed, the distance between me and the rigid food rules I once held continued growing further apart.
It was several months of blogging before I took the first step of this journey, a short bump in the road for Whole30 (find out why I did it here), and I’ve got a long way left to go. At this point, I’m happy not knowing what I weigh, eating a huge salad for lunch and then a cookie for dessert if I want it. Finding the balance is a work in progress that has its good and bad days, but the key is that it never comes to a halt.
3. Found my people
This year I realized how little I like large social interactions and that small talk is not my forte. As I tried to figure out where I fit in, my social group ebbed and flowed, until I finally found my people. They’re the ones I could talk to for hours or sit quietly and read next to on the couch. We’ve shared countless cups of tea, long walks on campus, forays into D.C., and a wardrobe’s worth of outfits. They know when I need to get out of my head and when I just need alone time to recharge. Having tons of friends works for some people; I prefer small but mighty.
4. Chose an alternate route
Do you remember Newton’s first Law of Motion from physics class? An object that’s in motion will stay in motion, heading in the same direction at a constant speed. I felt like a human manifestation of Newton’s law, simply going through the motions. The small nugget of discontent I harbored turned into a pit, then a stone, and eventually the ball that set things rolling.
I agonized over whether I was pursuing a major that would lead to a career I’d be happy in, researching other options and badgering people with questions about their experiences. There was even a spreadsheet for a brief second.
In the end I stuck with my current plan, just hitting the fast-forward button instead. It resulted in relief that quickly morphed into stress, as I waded through the hardest semester I’ve ever had. My planner and I were inseparable, to the point that someone commented about it to me.
Now that it’s my last winter break, the plan feels much more real. Especially since I have to stop pushing off job applications. A year ago I never would have believed that I’d be at this point, though, let alone excited about it.
So… what now?
Great question, thanks for asking! For years I believed that New Years is when you’re supposed to change, turn yourself into someone different from who you were the year before. Except, I kind of like myself. After thinking about it for a while, the lightbulb flickered on and the feeling in my stomach let me know that, at least for right now, I found my answer.
It’s true that when I write the year I’ll have to remember that it changed. And I’ll also be making some other changes this year. First of all, my journal, which fell to the wayside because I spent so much time writing here, is making a much-needed comeback. I’ve finally accepted that running doesn’t give me the joy I wished it did, but I love swimming and going for walks.
Even though the steps I’ll be taking are new, or at least renewed, they’re just small ways to help me grow more into myself. New year or not, at the end of the day it’s still the same me.
I’m anticipating vegetable rainbows, hot oatmeal, freshly brewed coffee, dark chocolate, jars of nut butter, and cookies. You can rest assured there will be many messes in the kitchen, recipe wins and recipe fails. Also look forward to more of a focus on life in general, along with the food, as I forge ahead on my journey. I hope you’ll join me for the ride here on the blog, nourishing more than just our bodies.