That's a Wrap // 2016 in Review

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year's Eve! This year was so slow at first, but now I feel like I'm running out of time too quickly as it's spiraling to a close. There has been a lot of talk this year (on twitter, especially), about how lousy this year has been. If anything remotely bad happens, it has been blamed on the fact that it's 2016. But this year, just like every year, people died and people were born. Life was lived at the same pace: a pace of reluctance, because people want to live but they don't want to live too quickly; they don't want this year to be over with before it seemed like it had even started. And yet that's exactly what happened. And what happens every year.

In 2016, there were piles of homework, recitals and graduations, a seemingly endless summer. In 2016, we rejoiced when March came around and it was finally sunny and 75 again; we rolled down the windows and blared music and sang our hearts out. Then we waded through the heat and humidity and relaxed by the ocean or the pool or went some place cooler to wait out the heat wave. And we finally rejoiced again that the cold was back with its usual wave of pumpkin spice lattes and christmas movies and endless celebration.

And somehow, we all turned a year older in the midst of it all.

And somehow, it's all culminating in one famous moment of party poppers ad sparkling grape juice and auld lange syne at 11:59 tonight. Man, what a year it has been. 2016, despite the superstitious protest from the entirety of social media, has truly been sweet. Below are my top ten events from this


I turned sixteen:
They say sixteen is a milestone. They say that when a girl's sixteen, she is introduced to a whole new world of, well, I don't know what. Because this year wasn't inherently different than any other year. It had its good and bad moments, but they were all worth it. I wouldn't trade what I learned this year for anything. Sixteen held the same sweetness that fifteen and fourteen and thirteen did, only with slightly fewer awkward moments.

I saw Ben Rector in concert:
Before I bought tickets to his concert in March, I knew only one Ben Rector song. After obsessively listening to his songs in order to learn them for the concert, I was introduced into a whole new world of music. His songs carry such meaning; they're poignant and relevant and fulfilling. Because of the world of Ben Rector I no longer settle for empty music.

I discovered my love for black coffee:
After becoming obsessed with Gilmore Girls, I decided I'd try black coffee. I've always been a fan of coffee ( it's in my blood ), but never black. After my first sip I was hooked. It's become an everyday staple, and now that I don't put sugar in it I can drink more of it :))) Eventually I found out that Alexis Bledel doesn't even like coffee. When she's shown on Gilmore Girls drinking it black, she's really just drinking soda. So the character who inspired me to drink my coffee black actually doesn't like coffee at all. Go figure.

I became an aesthetic baegel:
The 21st Century is a crazy place to be. The internet still freaks me out. (How does it work???) This year, after an epic pancake vs. waffle war, I connected on instagram with some of the coolest people around, and our group chat was fondly entitled "aesthetic baegels."

I learned to drive:
After much stress and apprehension, I finally learned how to drive. There's something relaxing about sitting behind the wheel of a car and just driving. My morning drive to school is roughly fifteen minutes, and it's de-stresses me to just sit in the quiet by myself. It's one of those little things in life that I can't help but enjoy.

I started my first novel:
I've wanted to write a book since I was eight years old. I've started countless novels, but none of them had a purpose. This year I found my story. In a completely anti-climactic way, I was driving down the highway when  I spotted an orchard in a small valley of sorts, and In Between was born. I'm six chapters in and chugging along slow and steady. It'll be hard work, but I know it's worth it.

I went to Frontier Ranch:

This summer I went to Younglife Camp in Buena Vista, Colorado. It was the best week of my life. Not only is colorado a beautiful place, but the people I met and the friends I got to know better were beautiful, too. And I got to experience the joy of Jesus' endless grace after an almost-year-long struggle with legalism. Sophomore year was one of those in-between years, the years you don't really know why you're doing what you do. But you do it anyway; you push through. I did push through, and the Good Lord knew that I'd need ten days of both solitude and time with friends and time with Him to again realize how beautiful this life can be. And I did.
(Check out my four posts about Colorado here, here, here, and here.)

I started my Junior year in high school:
Junior year's the big year. I knew it from the beginning, but still, it was harder than I expected. I'd never taken more than one AP class a year because it had never been an option before. This year, I'm taking four. Talk about an adjustment. This year has been good, though, because I've realized that I need to find motivation to do well in order to really succeed, and I've found that. Bring on second semester; I'm gonna give it all I've got!!!

I rediscovered my love for the classics:
I've always been a fan of classic literature, but somewhere between 2015 and 2016, I started reading a lot of YA. I was left wanting something more, something deeper, from literature. YA is fine if you're into fantasy and cliche romances, but that's it. This month I picked up The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and I was awe-struck by its relevance and poignancy. Then I picked up The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and I cried because of how much I felt Plath's pain, and because of how relevant it was to me. Now I'm on Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and it is truly a work of art (quite a long one, I might add.) One thing I've been able to distinguish between YA and the classics is the process of story formation: I think classic authors had an idea of what they wanted to say, what they wanted their story's theme to be, before they knew what the story would be like. I think modern day authors write the other way around.

I started teaching myself guitar:
Surprise!!! Just this week, I picked up my older brother's old guitar and decided I would learn to play. My main motivation was my main character, Henry Wright, in In Between. His dream is to be a singer-songwriter. Ergo, he has to write songs. Ergo, I have to write songs. And his main medium is acoustic guitar, though he does write a few songs on piano. So far, I know C, D, G, Em, and Am chords. Hopefully 2017 will give me enough time to learn a few more :)

That's a wrap! What were your big moments in 2016? What are you looking most forward to this new year? Let me know in the comments!
Happy 2017, friends!

On Following Your Dreams

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's been awhile, I know.

I'd love to say that life's excitement is what has so successfully inhibited me from keeping up with my little corner of the internet. Alas,that is not the case.

Ya know that little saying about how GPA isn't forever? For the past two months, I've been repeating that in my mind, but it hasn't been working. Junior Year is a big deal. This year is the year colleges care about. Yes, GPA isn't forever, but it sure plays a role in determining my forever. I've tried everything: hours and hours of studying at the local library, a "designated drawer" for my phone when I'm trying to study at my desk in my room, limiting the amount of books I check out so I can focus on school, and, for the past couple weeks, I even gave up on dressing cute because I was so tired all the time from so much studying; leggings with an over-sized t-shirt and Nikes was becoming the norm. And, of course, last but not least, my coffee intake skyrocketed. I didn't even know it was possible for me to drink more coffee than I already did, but it happened. (I was literally at Gilmore Girls level, y'all.)

Long story short: I was a mess. If I wasn't studying, I was reading and writing and browsing college websites to find my dream school. Ergo, my family never saw me. I was a turtle, and I was so stressed that if I had too much human contact I would explode.

I thought I was doing fine. I thought I was finally getting on track to become something great. When I got my SAT scores back, though, I was proven wrong. My scores weren't bad, per se, but they were nowhere near where I wanted them; two-hundred points lower, to be exact. That, on top being stuck in an ever-deeper pit of Bs on math tests, was enough to make me go crazy. Because I knew if grades were based on effort, I'd get an A+ easy, but that wasn't enough.

It's funny, because if this year were last year, I wouldn't really care about grades. I'd get As easily in English, History, and Spanish, and high Bs in Science and Math without even trying. Because that's how it's always been. But earlier this year, I discovered a school in Nashville and became obsessed with getting in. Their acceptance rate was only 13% because they strove to keep their class size small. I checked the GPA and SAT requirements and found that I was just shy of them; if I could do just a smidge better, I could probably get in, right? So I chased after that. I chased after it like it was my only hope. In reality, though it wasn't my only hope, it was my dream.

And I hated myself for not discovering it sooner.

If I'd have known what it would take to get in my freshman year of high school, I would have worked harder; I would've had a reason to want to do well. But I didn't discover that reason until it was almost too late. I was in a time crunch. If I wanted to get in, I had to do well now. So in the midst of working hard for this dream of mine, I lost sight of everything else. I wasn't spending enough time with the people I loved and I wasn't spending enough time in the Word; I was spending all my time studying, but somehow I still wasn't making the cut. Why?

I still don't know.

 It's the second day Winter Break now, and I spent all day yesterday recovering from a cold I contracted over exam week. Because of the stress, no doubt. Perhaps the Lord is trying to tell me that despite everything I've learned this past semester, His plan really is bigger. I didn't want to take that to heart too much because I was afraid that if I was too much at peace, I wouldn't do well. Which is true. But I've found that there's a balance: there's a balance between working hard for your dreams and being at peace because the Lord's plan is bigger and better. Even as we chase after our dreams, we have to surrender those dreams to God because if they don't belong to him they have no real stock. And I'm learning this. I'm no expert, believe me, but I'm learning.