Why 2014 Was One of the Best Years Ever

2014 will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the year that I took off to really travel by myself for 6 weeks. It was the year I visited over 9 countries, met countless people that I will cherish forever, and started on the path of a professional career. After such a year like this, it’s hard to look ahead to see if 2015 will surpass it—but one can only hope. It is, after all, a goal of mine to continue improving each year so that it’s better than the last. And so far, that’s been the case.

A note before we start

I was surprised by a few things when creating this list. At first, it was the realization that I really need to switch from the Academic Year mindset to a Calendar Year mindset. But more shocked by how short a calendar year actually felt like! Has it really been a year since I was exploring Berlin?

Also, while tracing the events of the 2014 year, I noticed how things slowed down exponentially once I did; the minute I settled physically, my travel list died although my professional list grew. There was a period of “dead time” during the summer where I did have a few jaunts to nearby towns here and there but nothing substantial really happened; this is about the time I realized that budget traveling and budgeting are two very bipolar monsters and that a happy medium would be necessary.

Now, let’s go down memory lane, shall we? Sorry for the length, but we all know I’ve cranked out longer pieces than this before.

What went well in 2014

Year-End Collage Travel Roundup

  • Traveled through 9 countries on extended solo backpacking trip
    • Morocco (x2)
    • Spain (x2)
    • Germany (where I rang in the New Year… in a hotel room)
    • Turkey
    • Greece
    • France
    • England (x3, if you count countless layovers in Heathrow)
    • Scotland
    • Ireland
  • Visited US states I’ve never been to before
    • Colorado
    • Texas
  • Made this video, which I’m still proud of:

Enchanted Rock

Personal/Bucket List Success

  • Moved to Austin, TX, a city that I’ve always wanted to live in for at least a year, and am contemplating staying for an additional year! Although there are many things that I wish could improve (driving&traffic)
  • Picked up French, in a purely conversational sense—something that I’m surprised happened so easily while abroad. Now, although I’m not immersed in the language anymore, I still practice daily when chatting with a friend.
  • Became more dedicated to blog (developed some very cool blog friendships)—but also, blog underwent some changes due to newfound stationary lifestyle. Temporary, I’m sure.
  • I became a runner again. Back when I was in high school, I reveled in running and would wake up at 5 AM in the summers to avoid the heat—because there was no way that I would skip on running. I lost the habit after a knee injury freshman year of college and have never enjoyed it since. I flirted with HIIT instead of distance because it was over quicker, but later resigned myself back to endurance. Now, I’m picking it back up and have slowly begun to look forward to my morning runs (up to 2.5 miles now!).
  • Mental health relatively better than previous years (for the first half at least). Except for a few months here and there, I didn’t fall victim to some episodes that I’ve experienced in the past few years. Although I’m still unsure whether that’s because of acceptance of fate or because it’s truly better.
  • Started a journey of “clean eating.” In relation to endurance running, I got tired of eating junk all the time (although I don’t deprive myself when I really want something). In France, I learned the value of eating fresh and local through feeling a difference in how I carried myself. After shame-binging a bit when I returned, I found my way back to it happily.
  • Got my first tattoo—planned many more to come!
  • There were many moments in social and professional lives where I prided myself on the way I acted; I was there for when friends needed me, I kept in touch with the people I loved abroad, the way I supported my students at my job, how well I was able to connect to some of them, etc.

UM graduation

Professional Milestones

  • Graduated! It happened a full semester after I officially finished my last class, so I didn’t really get the build-up hype that my friends did.
  • Slightly restocked drained, post-travel bank account… but not to the extent that I would’ve liked. The fact that I have anything post-travel, though, makes me happy.
  • Landed first, albeit temporary, job in Austin, TX. I’m glad that I took this Americorps position for the people I meet (as always) and for the opportunity of professional development. Through it, I learned what it was like to hunker down in a cubicle and what it was like to be working towards the same objective for a whole year. Most of all, I learned how to stay put—and that I have mixed emotions about it.
  • Did first engagement photoshoot / became a marketing photographer at the local humane society. This was surprising simply because I never meant to make any professional moves with photography. Although these are baby steps for sure, and in no way means that I have a current company as a freelance photographer, but it gave me a bit of experience and enough to start a portfolio of sorts.
  • Earned a B1 DELF Certification at the Alliance Française in Chicago… breezed by it actually. Needing over a 50% to pass the exam, I earned B’s and A’s in all categories. But that was right after coming back from France, of course.
  • Able to understand average monthly spending / stayed on a very loose budget system. This is the first time that I’ve broken off and had an income… and I’ve done well in not needing to ask for more money (and not touching the money that I set aside) since then. This was surprising even to me; the reason why I worked so many hours waitressing during the summer was in anticipation of needing to dip into that while in Austin.
  • Reached out to an unprecedented amount of odd jobs to learn more about those tracks; however, this was more in the vein of organic networking out of honest curiosity of them as a person than goal-oriented, traditional networking, which I think is a complete waste of time.

Barcelona jungle gym beach

Lessons learned

  • A high-paying job is not worth it if you’re miserable
  • Multitasking is the devil, along with an overindulgence of Netflix and screen media
  • do want an unconventional life… as long as I lay groundwork first
  • No matter how well you know someone, you can reach out to them for almost any reason (travel, curiosity). You’re the only one holding you back from connecting with someone you want to know more about
  • Disconnecting from media each night frees up hours of time for personal projects
  • I love writing about issues I care about
  • Time is wasted worrying about social conventions
  • Always re-evaluate your goals and dreams and then make changes to reflect them

What did not go well in 2014

  • At one point while I was still in Grenoble, I attempted to land an internship in the EU (silly me), which I didn’t get, obviously. This was done mostly out of desperation for extending my trip by any means necessary. I’m still trying to find a way to weasel into the EU workforce, but instead of a short-term goal, make gradual steps towards it.
    • In the same vein, I promised abroad friends that I would make it back in time for a German festival near Tübingen… not.
  • Didn’t go to half the places that I planned to visit. There were so many opportunities where I could’ve taken a weekend trip or a mid-week trip while everyone was studying to the Amalfi Coast, Florence, Pompeii (I’ve got Italy on my mind), but I didn’t. At the time, I prioritized my connections with others than traveling. I don’t regret it, however,
  • Not traveling extensively while studying abroad (see above)
  • Not being anything more than a hermit while trying to save for my next trip. This is something I’m still struggling with. I could section off a part of my paycheck each month to go towards a small trip that I take later in the year, but while I learned that I could live within my means, I don’t think I’ve learned yet to save. And living off $1000/month, makes it  pretty tough to even get to the point I’m at. The next six months, however, I’m going to try to save $100/month (at least) and rent out my room for SXSW (know anyone looking?) so that I can afford a trip somewhere this summer. Even better if I find a paid temp job abroad or something.
  • Not being able to continue eating gluten (oops)
  • Not becoming as involved in Austin’s Alliance Française chapter as I would’ve like (faults on both sides). I tried! Originally, I was to be a part of their marketing force, which would’ve gone under professional milestones. However, after countless phone conversations with the coordinator, who delegated involving me to the Austin AF president… who isn’t nearly as on top of his shit (or purposefully not including me) as I would like. On one hand, it is a French organization (the president is half-French, himself), but I was really counting on his half-American side to GTD.
  • Failed to care at all about single status and did whatever I wanted. Cultivation of me-time became a bit of a priority for me after liking it so much while traveling.
  • Failed to avoid my fate as a cat lady (not related to above)
  • Ran into a slew of health issues (bursitis in both shoulders, Celiac’s)

This is also my last post of 2014, so I’ll see you all next year! Have a Happy Holidays!

How was your 2014?

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  • http://www.thesunnysideothis.com/ Isabel

    Wow, congrats on a fabulous year! 2014 was amazing for me too <3 Hope 2015 is filled with more successes and stories to tell!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Yay :) I’m glad that everyone’s been having such a good year! Looking forward to what happens in 2015 for everyone!

  • http://www.melaniefontaine.com/ Melanie Fontaine

    What a ride it’s been! :) I’m certainly so, so glad that we have become blogging friends! Even though I’m still in school, I feel my year has kind of been along the same lines as yours: Totally awesome first half of the year (thanks living abroad!) and then some issues getting used to a different type of life again that by now are starting to fade into the distant, though – does this sum it up? ;) I’m sure you’ll have the most amazing year 2015, though, because I’m convinced that every year is just going to be better – and if it’s not the year, than it will be our attitude or rather our understanding of ourselves! :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      So so happy that we’re blog friends :) Because who else would know that, YES, that’s exactly how my year felt!! In some ways, awesome experiences are balanced by the return… blessing and a curse type thing. I love the way you think–because I feel the same way :)) There’s always going to be some way for improvement in some aspect of our lives :))

  • http://agirlandhertravels.com/ Polly

    Wow, what a fruitful year! Special congrats on getting your savings back up after traveling… I’m still working on that :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Hahah, it’s not exactly to where I’d want it to be… but enough that I’m not drowning! And it was a grueling summer at that -_-

  • http://lanivcox.wordpress.com/ Lani

    I suppose these types of things are very good so you can review and take stock of all that you have accomplished. I feel like a slacker (just kidding)! Whenever I write these things I have a tendency to get melancholic, so I better skip this one this year. But since you asked, 2014 was a year of a lot of change and challenges and I don’t think 2015 is going to ease up, but I hope that the year will bring positive changes. All the best from Thailand, xxoo :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      I’m hoping for some good things to go your way, Lani! It sounds like, although 2014 was challenging, you grew and learned a lot! And any progress is always good :))

      Yeah, but also to realize how very short a year is!! Before this, school semesters were the only thing keeping me accountable with time, so it’s weird for me in this regard!

      Haha, I used to get really melancholic (publicly, that is), now I just keep that to myself and save it for a whole new post. Love from the US!

  • http://www.relokate.eu/ Kate Jordan

    I think you had an amazingly successful year! Congratulations :).

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks Kate! You had no small accomplishments yourself, moving to Germany and all! :) Hope you have a wonderful new year!!

  • http://lovefromberlin.net/ rae

    Raelly lovely recap. Even with some of the things that did not go well it seems so managed to make this a wonderful year. Wishing you all the best and successes in 2015!

    rae of love from berlin

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Rae :) Hoping the same for you in this new year!

  • http://www.adelanteblog.com/ Courtney @ Adelante

    Cat ladies unite!! All in all, it sounds like 2014 was a legendary year. Between your extensive travels and testing the waters of the working world, it sounds like you’ve learned a lot! I hope 2015 brings just as many good things :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Heck yeah!! And thanks so much, Courtney! It means a lot :) definitely was one to remember

  • http://www.crumbsinthebed.com/ Kerri

    Happy New Year to you! What a year you’ve had and I’m so excited to have been around for some of it. Can’t wait to see what you get up to in 2015!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha you’ll be a much bigger part in 2015! :) And happy new year to you!!