The year that’s passed and the year to come

As the year comes to a close, I’m reminded of one of a quote from Calvin and Hobbes, my favorite comic strip: “Tomorrow’s what I’m waiting for, but I can wait a little more.” This year has been one of the most challenging, rewarding, incredible years I’ve experienced. Though I’m beyond excited to see what 2015 has to offer me, I’d like to take a step back and reflect on 2014 and all it has to offer me.

For a long time, I saw undergrad as just another step in my journey towards becoming an attorney. I didn’t appreciate it as an experience, I only saw it as a means to an end. In the last two years of my undergraduate studies, I learned a great deal not only about journalism, but also my place in the world. I learned to listen more than talk, I learned to dig a bit deeper and hear everyone’s stories. I also learned to cherish each moment, because we don’t know what the most important moments are until they’ve passed. In May of this year, my studies came to a close and I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in journalism. I’ve already written a good deal about this so I won’t go too far into detail, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the lessons I learned, the people I met, and the path it set me on.

My studies went far beyond journalism, and through my minor I was able to discover a love for philosophy. Years ago, a mentor suggested that I would enjoy studying philosophy and that it would benefit me a great deal. I shrugged it off, because as a 19 year old I knew what was best for me. Four years and three philosophy courses later, I realized that Steve Cabrillos was right in his suggestion. I’ve decided to go back to school for a Master’s in philosophy before heading off to law school. I’ve met with two professors, one from UA’s law school and one from UA’s philosophy department, both of whom think pursuing this master’s will do wonders for my future, both academically and personally. It’s a diversion from the path I’ve been on for 23 years, but law school will be there once I graduate and it’s a degree I can benefit immensely from. If this year has taught me anything, it’s to stop worrying about the destination and start taking comfort in the journey.

Studying journalism didn’t just help me learn what it meant to be a journalist, it also helped spark a passion for photography that I don’t think I would have otherwise discovered. It started in 2013 with Kim Newton’s photojournalism and multimedia courses, and without him I wouldn’t know anything about photography. In 2014, though, I went to New York City and spent a majority of my time there taking pictures and exploring what the city had to offer. I took my camera with me everywhere, and I challenged myself to try different types of photography than I had previously been used to. Without that trip, I wouldn’t be as willing to experiment with photography as I am now, and though I have a very long way to go, I’m ready to improve upon the skills I’ve learned.

Often times, in order to take a step towards our ultimate goal, other pursuits have to be left behind. One of those is the pursuit of working with Teach for America, something I had been talking about for nearly a year before I turned down the opportunity. I was excited to not only pursue something that I thought would look great on a law school application, but also help children in need and be a role model to those who might not have one. I was accepted into the program, which has an acceptance rate of 15%. I’m grateful to have been accepted, and I worked very hard throughout the application process. I was certain that if I was accepted, I would take the job without question, and I did. After accepting the job, I began to really think about my future and the role TFA played in that future. Was this the best way to reach my goal, or was it just a way to reach it? I struggled with answering this, and when I finally did, I resigned from TFA. Though I passed on a potentially life-changing opportunity, I learned to be critical of every decision I make, and to do what’s best for my future, not what’s best for right now. Through the application process, I also learned to believe in myself more than I ever had before. I learned to persevere and believe that I’m capable of anything I set my mind to. That’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned, and without TFA it might have been a long time before I came to that realization.

This year I also saw another dream of mine surpass expectations. When I started Compositry, and Detechticon before it, I never thought it would be where it is now. By summer of this year, the site was receiving tens of thousands of views per month. I never expected that many people to be interested in something that I was a part of, and I’ve had a chance to work with incredibly bright, talented individuals. I never thought, when I was 12 and my dream of tech coverage started, that I would be able to achieve anything close to what my team and I have accomplished. We lost over half the team this year, and though we definitely suffered as a result, it’s taught me to make the most of what you have available. Compositry has been silent the past few months, but we’re working on fine tuning our coverage and coming back full-force in 2015.

I didn’t just learn about photography, how to run a website, or to take a step back and enjoy where I’m at in life. 2014 was also the year I met an incredible, talented, brilliant girl who I’m lucky enough to have fallen in love with. It came at the most unexpected time, and without her, none of the previous things I’ve mentioned would have been possible. We’ve been talking for nearly a year now, and through her I’ve learned to be more open-minded, more understanding of others’s struggles and challenges, to smile more, and how to love more openly and fully. Those lessons alone are enough to make my year one of the best yet.

I’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge those that my family and I lost this year. We lost my Tata Grouch to lung cancer after four years of fighting it. I’ll always be grateful for the things he taught me, like being sure to always laugh and look on the bright side, never take things too seriously, and to always cherish family because you only get one. We also lost two dogs this year, Dolce and Sadie. It’s hard to put into words what losing an animal is like, but every day I wish I could have spent one last moment with each of them. Out of those losses, though, I got Baxter. He’s been my rock, and one of the coolest little dogs I’ve ever met.

With all of that behind me, I’m ready to look ahead. I plan on making the most of 2015, and it’s looking to be an incredible year.

As an extension of what I learned in NYC, I’m going to challenge myself to take more pictures in 2015. That means improving upon what I already know as well as try to learn different techniques and styles. I’m still working on finding my own unique style in photography, and I’m hoping 2015 will help me get closer to finding it. I’m aiming for at least one picture a day, we’ll see how close to that I can get. I’m also going to post more of my pictures so that I’ll have a visual representation of where I’ve improved and where I still need to improve.

Compositry has been a rewarding project for me, and I intend to still be a part of it, but I have a new project in mind and 2015 will be the year for this project to come to fruition. It’s called Retold, and it’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever worked on. Once we have a functional site, I’ll make the official announcement, but for now I’ll say that I think this is going to be something big.

As I previously mentioned, I’ll be applying to the University of Arizona for a master’s degree in philosophy. Through this, I’m aiming to grow more intellectually and in general as a person. I can’t wait to be back in school and learning more about the world and myself. It’s a bit of a detour, but I think I’ll be better for it.

Detours aside, I’m not losing sight of the big picture. I’m still studying for the LSAT and every day I’m getting better and better. I’ll be taking it this year, and I’m going to make sure I nail it. This means that my social life is going to suffer to some degree, but I’m not going to stop until I’ve got that 170+ score.

With all that’s to come I’m reminded of a quote from the Office series finale that’s always stuck with me. “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” I don’t want that quote to hold true for me, and I think the good old days are still to come. I can’t wait to see what’s next.