2018 - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I could tell you every fun thing I did in 2018 and inspire FOMO, jealousy, or maybe make you feel like you’re doing this life thing wrong.
I could keep it superficial and paint an image of a perfect life filled with happiness and adventure.
I could say, “OMG 2018 was the best year of my life!”
But, none of that would be fair to you or represent what a simultaneously amazing and horrible year it was for me. For as many adventures as I had, I also had so many misadventures, heartbreaks, and countless nights of crying myself to sleep.
So instead of painting a false picture of perfection, I want to sum up the good, the bad, and the ugly in the hopes that it’ll give perspective that no matter how perfect someone’s life appears, you never know what they’re going through. Also, because I truly believe that the bad and the ugly are what cause the most personal growth and show you what you’re capable of withstanding.
Without further ado…
Travel was an escape for me this year. It allowed me to step back from the train wreck of my life and begin to repair all of the damage. It also showed me that no matter how bad I have it, there are always those so much less fortunate and there is still so much to be grateful for.
My favorite trips this year were to Thailand with my little sister, to Iceland with Llew, and to Ireland solo. Each trip rejuvenated me, even with the bumps along the way. I fed elephants at a sanctuary in Chiang Mai, experienced the perpetual summertime daylight of Iceland, and laughed until my sides hurt with every Irish person I met (seriously, I swear they are all so witty).
I also drove for the seventh time across the US with my dog Nym and my mom and we had an amazing trip. Currently, I’m on a new five-month solo adventure through Central and South America and it’s been an incredible first month.
With my job, I traveled to Alaska and went sightseeing in a seaplane over glaciers, I met Kevin Durant at a basketball game in Oakland, was backstage with Macklemore, and walked the Red Carpet with Samuel L. Jackson for the Incredibles 2 premiere in Hollywood.
Personal Accomplishments -
2018 was the year where I finally got my weight under control. I started off simply doing a 20-minute workout a day at home and progressed to going to gym and weightlifting an average of 25 days per month. After years of struggling with my weight, I finally made a turn for the better and got down to my 9th-grade weight and felt so proud that I had never given up all those years where I couldn’t lose a pound.
I bought a small condo in late 2017 and spent my spring renovating it. This was something I’d never imagined I’d be capable of doing myself but with the help of YouTube and some friends, I finished it and rented it out. One day I hope to sell it to fund moving to Europe.
During my travels I’m trying to learn as many things as I can so I’m watching photography tutorials, taking Spanish lessons, and I got my Open-Water Dive Certification in Belize.
Seattle is notorious for being difficult to make friends in and I’ve felt that struggle since I moved there 4.5 years ago. This year I joined a volleyball league and made some incredible friends that provided me with a few hours of drama-free bliss every week. With them, I could be a carefree person without all my baggage and having that atmosphere was invaluable.
During my travels, I met so many kind-hearted people who have become life-long friends or who have unknowingly been exactly what I needed at the time to keep me from drowning in sorrow. They’ve opened up and told me their stories and left me in awe of how they have kept going despite the weight on their shoulders. Their courage helped fan my own and I’m so grateful to have met each and every one of them.
The Bad and the Ugly -
During what I thought was the worst week of my life this year, my friend said, “Well, after the hell you’ve been through this week, next week has got to be better.” It was so much worse. That pretty much sums up how my whole year went. It was a classic theme of, “You thought that was bad? Well, hold my drink.”
My series of unfortunate events began when my manager took a job with another company and her workload was handed over to me until they could find a replacement. That took four months.
During those same four months, I spent every night helping a close friend who was suffering from major clinical depression think of reasons to keep living. If you’ve never had depression or watched someone you love go through it, trust me, it is the most difficult thing ever. Your needs, problems, time goes out the window and you focus only on keeping them safe and reinforcing how devastated you’d be if anything happened to them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint and sometimes my frustration with having to bottle my own feelings up 24/7 definitely got the better of me.
I sprained my ankle in May, the day before my Thailand trip, and it didn’t heal until October so I couldn’t spend my weekends recovering in the mountains with Nym like I usually do.
Then, toward the end of summer, things became even more precarious with my friend at the same time as my dad had a major heart attack and I was told to rush home because he was going to die. After three hours of his surgery had passed, the nurse came out to tell us that they’d made no progress and couldn’t get his heart to cooperate. For the next four hours, my family and I all took turns bursting into tears at the thought of losing this man who is the centerpiece of our hearts. Finally the doctor came out and told us the surgery was successful and they thought he would be okay for now.
That same night, after the most mentally taxing day of my life, someone stole a plane in Seattle and since I did social media for that airline, I had to work until 2 AM to cover this incredibly sad event. I had slept 4 hours in the last 48 at the time and was at my breaking point.
Once my dad seemed to be doing better, I went back to Seattle. Then he was in the 1% of people who are allergic to the medicine they use to do bypasses so all of the work the surgeon did collapsed and he was rushed back to the hospital and given not much chance of survival again. I canceled the birthday trip I was about to embark on and flew home to be with my family while we waited on him to recover enough to operate on again.
My dad didn’t look like himself at all. He couldn’t walk. He groaned every moment and within five minutes of my arriving asked me if I would please help take him home so he could die in his own bed. Hearing those words shattered my heart. Here lay the man who helped get me through every tough time I’d ever had and whose constant pride in me kept me going every time I wanted to give up. This is the man I called every day to share my adventures with or to ask for advice. How could I possibly lose him?
Having spent the whole summer with someone who didn’t want to be alive gave me the strength I needed to stay by my dad’s side and whisper in his ear, “This isn’t you speaking. You’re in pain. You’re on medication. Let’s wait a bit until you have a clear head before making any big decisions.” Eventually, after days of feeling like there was no hope, they were able to put in a stent and he felt much better, though is still struggling daily with how weak the ordeal left him. This time last year he was winning all the medals for weightlifting at the Senior Olympics.
A month later, my hometown was hit directly by Hurricane Michael and completely destroyed. For days, no one had service to let us know whether they were okay or not. Literally as the hurricane came ashore and my family lost service, I walked into work and found out that in three weeks they’d be laying off 100 people. Perfect timing. Wondering if my family would survive took precedent over whether I’d have a job in a few weeks but dealing with both simultaneously kept my stress levels maxed out. Everyone in my family came through the storm alive but their towns and houses did not, and their lives will never be the same. When I got the news that I had been let go from my job that I’d given so much to, I just accepted it as another casualty of 2018.
The Takeaway -
I feel like my year got progressively worse but that each event made me strong enough to handle what came next. During everything that happened, I was able to keep the perspective that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and cherish the bad times as something that was going to make me a formidable woman. I think having that perspective is all that saved me from feeling totally doomed.
The saying, “When one door closes, another opens” is so true. Losing my job enabled me to set off on a one-way ticket which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Along the journey so far, I’ve met people that have redeemed my faith in mankind, helped me, and listened to me even though they were absolute strangers.
My family became closer during the scare with my dad and the hurricane and for the first time in years, we’re all going on a vacation together because we know we may not have forever and each day is something to be grateful for.
I have literally no idea what 2019 will have in store for me. I have no plans. I’m living day by day and being thankful for every single one whether good or bad. I’m so curious to see where that takes me but I’m not impatient to get there. Life is about the journey and all the character it builds along the way. It’s not the boxer that throws the hardest punches that wins, it’s the one that can take anything thrown at him and keep getting back up.
Happy 2019 to everyone! Be kind and always remember that you’re only seeing the side of people they are brave enough to show. Everyone has their own struggles and you may just be the person that unknowingly helps them through it.