The confetti has settled. The champagne has been recorked and the balloons have been popped. I’m searching the beer aisle of Food Town, an international grocery store in West Palm Beach, Florida, searching fruitlessly for a six pack of Blue Moon. Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield comes over the crackly speakers, a song I first fell in love with in 2005 in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants trailer. I smile to myself, realizing that today is the first day of 2016 and the new year is laid out before me, blank and unwritten.
2015 was the best year of my life so far. Honestly. It began with four life-changing months in Southeast Asia spent chasing waterfalls, Pad Thai, and the elusive balance of life. Traveling throughout Asia gave me an entire new perspective on life that I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life. My time abroad then fell abruptly into a summer working on my nation’s capital, spent reuniting with old friends and making new ones. I drove along Route 7 and had my first real taste of adulthood. Then my final year of Penn State began in a rush of nostalgia and novelty. I moved into an apartment with my best friends, which brought both healthy challenge and innumerable perks. I turned 21, finally able to engage in the flirtation with bar life, joining my friends on countless adventures across the bars of Penn State. I joined new clubs, meeting new people who brought new perspectives and stories into my life. Then as quickly as it began, my second to last semester in undergrad was finished with a 4.0 and memories to last for a lifetime.
Every moment of 2015 was laced with something a little extra, though. Happiness. I know that sounds incredibly, incredibly corny, but it’s so true. Exactly a year ago, I chose to continually and consciously choose happiness in every possible moment. I usually try to avoid resolutions; they become cumbersome to me. Instead of encouraging me, they just make me feel bad about myself when I don’t hold true to them. I feel guilty and anxious when I miss my daily workout, or when I forget to read before bed every night. Or, my resolutions are too broad. Instead of being something concrete, they are insanely vague (real-life examples: “Be a better person”, “Do something BIG this year”), and they become forgotten as life begins again. But at the very beginning of last year, I heard something that changed my view on resolutions. I was encouraged by a friend that instead of setting strict resolutions, to simply find one word I wanted to live by in the upcoming year. To pick a word that I would try to emulate every single day. For 2015, I chose “Happy”. Now, it’s not like I am a Negative Nancy; however, in the few years before 2015, I felt the effects of loneliness, anxiety, and inexplicable sadness that seemed to affect my ability to truly be happy with my life. So, I took matters into my own hands, and decided that in 2015, I would be happy. And it worked. A year has passed, and I honestly believe that I am overall a happier person. That’s not to say that I don’t have days where I still feel lonely, anxious, or sad. But I do believe that by centering my year on “Happy”, I was more conscious of my emotions, and was able to pull positivity to the forefront of my mind for the majority of the year.
It’s been 2016 for three days. Now, to me, the New Year doesn’t truly begin until January 3rd. The first day of the year is usually split between sleeping and attempting to nurse a hangover. The second is spent just trying to wrap my head around the fact that it is indeed the new year, and that this is the year I’m doing whatever big thing that I believed would always be “next year” (EX: graduating, moving out, getting a big kid job, etc.). And then the third arrives. At this point, tomorrow is Monday, and it’s back to real life. It’s time to nail down my word for the year to come. This year, it was just as easy to decide as “Happy”. For 2016, my word is “Bold”. I’m not exactly sure what that entails, but I want boldness to rule my year. I want to take chances; I want to go talk to that cute boy at the bar, to ask for his number, to talk to that random person sitting next to me in class, to laugh loudly, to flirt, to make random plans at midnight that lead to stories I will tell my kids, to make new friends, to step outside of my comfort zone in social situations.
2016 is three days in. It’s time to sail forward into the unknown and let boldness be my navigator. Let’s see if this year can top the last.