Reflecting on 2015

This year was hard. Yes, I learned a ton, grew personally and my business grew rapidly, but it was still a hard year. I want to share a little bit about what I learned in the hopes that it will give you the strength to keep going even when the going gets tough.

I’m not going to get into details, but suffice it to say my 2015 started with an experience that led me to question parts of myself that I had long considered core to my identity. I’ve always been incredibly self-confident (to a fault at times, I’ll be the first to admit) and in January I found, for the first time in my life, that my usual love for myself wasn’t there.

It came back, but it took a lot of intentional work.

In April, I started The Artists’s Way with James Dong. I found tremendous value in the book, and while it took us longer than the allotted time to work through, we finished. Getting back into a habit of writing on a daily basis felt good.

Lesson: Sometimes you just have to do the work, even if it won’t fix everything overnight.

My friend group changed significantly over the course of 2015. Some moved in with partners, others moved to the suburbs, and I made many new friends. Through all of this, it became clear that true friends will true no matter the frequency with which you see them or the distance between you.

Lesson: I have the most incredible friends, and your friends will still love you even when you do stupid shit.

And during all this personal growth, UnCollege grew rapidly. We about doubled the number of people’s lives we were able to impact this year, and we more than doubled our revenue. We raised a bunch of money and aspire to impact the lives of 150–200 fellows this year.

Our team grew as well: we hired a COO and a Head of International Programs. We’ll be adding a few more folks soon, hopefully. I love the team I have the privilege to work with and am excited to go to work each morning.

In 2016, we’ll be focusing on ways we can transform the freshman year experience more broadly. Colleges are starting to reach out to want to partner and I hope we can ink some relationships so that young people graduating from high school can take the time to truly understand who they are, how the learn, and what they want to do with their lives.

Like what you read? Give Dale Stephens a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.