If I were to sum up my experiences in 2015 with one word, I don't believe I truly could. It was certainly a year of exploration, adoration, happiness, and strengh. On the other hand, there was also a lot of pain. I lost a best friend to her own demons, a beloved grandfather to old age, and had my heart broken harder than I could have ever imagined possible. The kind that leaves you screaming your hurt into a pillow and sobbing in the car on your way to the post office, even though you once laughed at the idea of such ridiculousness. In all, I had a lot of things taken away from me and for awhile, I tried to live to memorialize them, to dedicate each and every thing I was doing to the ghosts around me. I was no longer living for myself and that's when I started losing bits of what made me happy to be me.
For awhile, I lost my passion for photography. I couldn't seem to find that one portrait or assignment that would again kindle the burning desire to become a photographer I once possessed. So I took on a lot of client work and pushed what I wanted most aside to the point I forgot what it was exactly. But instead of searching, I just sat and dwelled. There were attempts made, but I was surrounding myself with negative feelings and memories of painful events. For a long time, I simply wouldn't allow myself to enjoy the ride or to feel any sort of joy.
But this isn't a story about defeat. 2015 held a lot of great personal milestones for me. I grew up, quick. My feet touched 18 states and 2 cities in Canada. I overshot my goal of reading 25 books by finishing my 29th one today. I woke up before sunrise (a near impossible feat for me) to explore Chicago on my own. I pushed my body to train for and complete my first solo Tough Mudder. For once, I actually talked to strangers and made a friend out of it.
Not all of my goals were met on a list I made a year ago today, but all the important ones were crossed off. Well, aside from the goal to not lose my wallet (only temporarily misplaced it, twice.) As disappointed as I was that I didn't seem to utilize this year's potential to further myself in my career, I know there was a lot inside of me I needed to work on first.
Maybe there is a word I can finally use for 2015: Growth. I learned how to endure, how to weather some storms I never thought I'd find myself caught in. And I grew from them. So here's to 2016 being a year of even more personal expansion, but also transitioning to focusing on some harder professional growth. I wish you all a happy New Year!