2017, the ups and downs.

Well, as the year is quickly winding down and I sit here closing in on midnight, I find myself reminiscing in the dark of my computer screen. By this time of year we find ourselves stating, “the year flew by so quickly”. But in other months, weeks, and days of our year it felt like the longest 24-hours of our lives. I find this irony humorous as we all tend to over think things and dramatize every day life. However, do not let me fool you, I am no different. It’s human to get excited by drama (even if we create it).

However, that is not what this post is about. This post is about reflection both self and outwardly. I like to think that I have had a great year. Another year, I go on to live another day. I have many things in my life to be grateful for, even the things that I thought at one time were the end of the world. I am a firm believer that our hardships make us a better person whether in time or on the spot. 2017 was a very complicated, yet very refreshing year for me. I can’t say that I loved every second of it. I can’t say that I even enjoyed the majority of it, but I can say that I learned so much about myself. I find this an accomplishment out of any hardships of the year 2017.

As I am getting ready to say goodbye to this year, I am reflecting on the past and coming up with positive, hopeful emotions. I came out of my comfort zone in a hundred areas in my life. I walked into 2017 working at a new job that I hated, I ended up leaving that job… Again, cutting ties permanently with a company that wasn’t bad, but wasn’t for me. I took a break for a month, both searching for jobs and reflecting on what I needed to do and what was best for me. I soon received another job as a receptionist soon after. AGAIN, the job had good hours, the job paid well, but it was not for me. 2017 was a year that I figured out I valued my happiness and sanity over my pocket money. Now don’t get me wrong here, I never missed my bills. I am nothing if not completely obsessive compulsive about paying my bills on time. I just needed to figure out what I wanted to do and where I was happy.

I have said on other posts here that I have no idea what I want to do with my life. That still stands and at this point, I figure that is going to be written on my headstone. I mean, honestly, who in their right mind has an honest answer for such an outrageous question. If you do, God speed. Keep up the good work. I, however, don’t, so yeah, I’ll keep up my good work in my own way. The more I think about this and the more I talk to people about not knowing where my life is going, the more closure I get on the subject. I am starting to understand that it is not only normal, but life will unfold before me and I can choose what path to go down as they are presented. I just want to be happy. I find in this day and age of social media… Happiness is hard to find because when we do find it, we post it and then comes the judgement from people behind a keyboard and screen. The lovely truth of social media, everybody. However, my story does come out a generally happy one by the end of this year, truth be told.

Where I was in January of this year was in my honest words of wisdom – a shit hole. I had no goals, I was stuck, and I was living a very repetitive lifestyle. This lifestyle also included excluding myself and giving up on myself frequently, if not every day. If I didn’t know where I was going then what was the point? I could throw everything away, break every opportunity I had in this town, and ruin my reputation one job at a time. It was the worst part of my 2017 that changed this routine.

It was in February when I left my long-term boyfriend whom I was living with at the time. It has been two years that we had lived together, so moving back with my family was not only a shock, but it was a pain for everybody included. I will not be getting into the details here, but long-story-short, I moved back with my parents with two extra medium sized dogs! Hallelujah, daughter’s back! While I laugh at this, I was welcomed back. I am fortunate that I still had a place to fall back on in tough times and I know that I always will. (Love you Mom and Dad, you’re the best). Yet, while I was heart broken and dramatic (of course), I found an odd sense of closure and new horizons letting themselves be known as the months after unfolded. It was scary and I personally despise change, or I did. But people change and I fully stand behind that statement because I changed.

The change that occurred was not instant and it was not easy. Life got hard, it had it’s happy moments, it was basically me going through every day life like a zombie. In a small town like this, there was no explanation needed… Everybody simply knows your story (at least a version of it). Small town charm, huh? However, charm is definitely not the adjective I would use to describe my summer. My post is about to get real in this section… I think of this as a diary where I allow random people of the Internet to not only judge my work, but judge me. So if you care to partake, please do, this is your invitation. At this point of my life, I feel that I can be an open book. You either love me or hate me. That decision is not up to me.

Continuing forward, the summer of 2017 was one summer that I fell into what I can only describe as a loop of anxiety and depression. I’ve never really “dabbled” in depression as other’s would describe it (be that television commercials or the latest Buzz Feed post). I’ve always had anxiety. Although, that’s a completely different conversation on a completely different post that may or may not ever exist. I have had several friends and extremely close family members who have struggled with depression most, if not all of their lives. It’s a terrible thing. However, I’ve personally never understood it until this year. Which in itself is neither a good or bad thing. I mean this in a way that no, I wouldn’t recommend it and I hated that I went through it. Yet, I’m glad I did so that I can have an understanding of it to use it as a tool to help others who may be struggling. Personally, I struggled with insomnia, horrible thoughts, lack of interest in literally anything, and just not giving a damn about myself. I would do anything and everything to keep my mind busy simply so my own mind would leave ME alone.

This went on for three months until I finally got it under control enough to self-reflect and also to function. These three months felt like the longest three months of my life. Out of this year, that was the most memorable part because we tend to remember the bad parts the most, or at least I do. Except the oddest thing happened due to these feelings and horrible thoughts – I found myself.

I finally realized that I am who I am and that I am done growing that part of myself. At 23 years old, I don’t have to question who I am anymore. This is a big concept because many people never find themselves. You can stay lost forever and that in itself is a horrible reality. So for this, I am grateful. Not only did I find myself, but through this I was having to force myself to do things that I would have never done before. I have social anxiety that gets fairly bad if I don’t take my script for it, so I struggle and avoid going outside my comfort zone. But 2017 was a year that I did just that.

There are probably 3-4 things that I did that I had never experienced, nor thought I would do because of my anxiety. Ironically, this depression (however much it did win and push me down) made me stronger and more focused to make it disappear. I despised the feelings I was going through and I wish it upon no one. The feeling of loneliness and despair – even if it is personal and just something that you, and you alone feel – does not make it any less real. But it can be fought. One of the first things I did was buy my tickets for Comic Con for the September event in Salt Lake City. I bought the tickets without knowing who I would be going with, if I would be going alone, simply without a clue. Which probably seems like no big feat, but unfortunately for me not knowing if I would by myself in a crowd of 5,000 to 7,000 people is terrifying. The second thing I did was obviously get my job at Tractor Supply (see my post about ducks where I talk about my job to learn more).

Tractor Supply deserves it’s own paragraph and I will tell you why. Like I said, I came into 2017 with no idea of what I wanted, who I was, and honestly fighting anxiety and on-coming depression that I didn’t realize was there until it hit me. I can’t say I suffer from it, but we all deal with it at some point in our lives, some more than others. Tractor Supply was completely frightening to me. I consider myself an introvert, nerd, geek-person-thing. Not a country girl, not a stereotype of the country side, Utah, or hillbilly. Which is everything I thought that Tractor Supply would be. I was wrong, of course. I was hired to my surprise. I assumed they would hire someone that actually knew about tools, farm life, farm animals, and tractors, but they hired me! I owe them such thanks because working there has been not only fun, but I have made such great friends that I would consider them my work family. Working there has also got me out of my comfort zone completely and helped with my social anxiety and social skills. 2017 would be nothing without mentioning my job here. Having a stable work life, a job that I actually love, and co-workers that enjoy my company has helped me stay focused and gave me new insight on what I wanted to do which is still unclear.

I decided that I would return to college on campus at my local community college. I had attended there once before right out of high school, but dropped out because I had no interest in going. My college story isn’t that successful to be honest with you. However, it was another subject to focus on and anything that I could focus on rather than myself and my thoughts was most welcome. I was recommended by my adviser to check out volunteering at our local museums. So I actually did one day to my surprise. I went through their registration process and I was soon both working at Tractor Supply and volunteering part of my summer to the Helper Rail Road and Mining Museum. I love history is a key reason that I did this. It was a completely fun experience and it was a way to scope the scene of what I would like to do as a career. In the end, I was offered a position, but what can I say? I’m loyal to Tractor.

After all of the events above mentioned, my mother let me know about an upcoming archaeology dig that needed volunteers that she saw in the local paper. This was something I never would have thought in a million years I would have involved myself in, but I did. As a side note, I will be posting about my experience on my archaeology dig accompanied with photos on another post, so I won’t kill you with details here. So, I went alone to meet a bunch of strangers about 70 miles outside of my own town in the desert. Let me reiterate, I have social anxiety. I felt like I overcame a milestone! I mean come on! Against all of my instincts telling me to give up, to quit, to not go because it was going to be terrible… I went and kicked my social anxiety in the butt and checked a dig off my bucket list! It was so worth it. It quite possibly could be an experience that I won’t have the opportunity to go on again. So for that, I am also grateful 2017 gave me that delightful opportunity and that I went on it.

I have to say, after that experience… I was hooked on doing things! I wanted a little more adventure in my life. This was coming from an introvert that after 5 days of working, needs 2 days away from people to recharge for the next 5 days of work. I was impressed if no one else was. My experiences for 2017 were not over just yet! I was still hungry for more adventure, so I outwardly searched for things to do. I came across a ghost hunt in a near by old mining town. Living in the small town that I do in Utah I know about many mining towns that were booming back in the day. The Helper Museum was one of them which is why it was so fun to volunteer there among other things. The town the advertised ghost hunt was in was Eureka, Utah. Looking on a map, it was tiny and lived up to everything that a ghost-mining town was. I will also be making a separate post before this year is up about my experience there, pictures included to wrap up my 2017, so I will leave out major details here. However, Eureka was probably my favorite event of the year. Not only was it spooky and my first professional ghost hunt, but the town was completely charming with real, laid back townspeople.

It all comes down to the people that I met. The experiences were delightful, but the people were better. I think the most precious gift that 2017 shared with me is that people matter. From an introvert’s perspective, I never found people to be worth a damn. I would regularly do everything to stay away from other human beings. But not anymore. Loneliness flourishes when you allow it to and I will not let it. That would probably be my New Year’s Resolution going into 2018 is to remember that loneliness only comes about when we allow it to. Happiness is what we create it to be. I had more great times this year than I have had in my 23 years of living simply because I left my comfort zone for more than a day. It taught me so much and I only hope that others can and will do the same. Adventure is something that we all need to experience because once you taste it, you will keep wanting more. The best thing about adventure is it allows memories, it brings people into your life, and it allows you to experience things that, well, you may never get the chance to experience again.

Take it from me, do the things you want to do and do the things you wouldn’t do now while you are young and able to enjoy it. I don’t want to have a life that I look back on and wish I had done something that was presented to me in full and I simply decided it wasn’t worth my time… Because it definitely is.

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