There’s no doubt that 2011 has been the most eventful year of my life. Who would’ve thought, a year ago, that I’d be where I am now? 12 months ago I was still working my way through undergrad, enjoying Wisconsin’s fine samplings of beer and cheese, and slaving away at a coffee shop. I had seven roommates, a big ol’ house a few blocks from campus, and my biggest worry was whether or not I wanted to brave the half a block trip to CVS in the middle of a snow storm. It wasn’t unusual to wake up to Miley Cyrus blasting from our bro-tastic neighbor’s house, or see someone peeing on one of our cars. But it was my life, and I liked it.
A year later, and my life has done a complete one-eighty. Somebody let me graduate, and I convinced myself that moving halfway across the country without a job or a place to live was a good idea. It was, undoubtedly, the craziest thing I’ve ever done. (I’ve been told it was brave, but I think I’m going to stick with insane.) But you know what? It paid off. (Though I’ll be the first to admit that it was more luck than anything else.)
Somehow, in the last six months, I managed to find an apartment in the ghetto of Brooklyn (which may or may not have given me some kind of street cred), find a job that I love, and finished writing another book. In the grand scheme of things, this year wasn’t too shabby. No, I didn’t grow, and I still can’t wear heels for an entire day, but those are things I’m working on. Sort of.
Other things to be proud of this year: my sister graduated high school and began college. (God, I feel old.) My brother decided to join the Marines. (Terrifying.) My parents are still the greatest people on earth. (Duh.) I survived a hurricane. (That was never really a hurricane.)
But 2011 had its ups and downs, too. There were a lot of goodbyes, and even a funeral for a friend. I had to move away from my family, which wasn’t easy. There were times when I was so broke I couldn’t even afford a package of ramen. I basically had to start from scratch in the friends department when I moved because I knew all of three people in the entire city. I like to crack jokes about Wisconsin, but in truth, it was pretty good to me. I have great friends who still live there, and leaving them hasn’t been easy. I hear about them hanging out, see their pictures, miss out on inside jokes, and it’s tough. Some of them I’ve known for over a decade, so the fact that they’re no longer close by is a little discombobulating.
But it’s all a part of growing up. Being in the real world isn’t what I’d expected, but not necessarily in a bad way. Now, standing on the other side of my education, I wish I’d listened to my mom. I wish I hadn’t taken out so many loans, or studied abroad when I did. Maybe gotten a cheaper apartment. Bought less clothes. (Not sure if that one’s possible.) Still, it’s an important lesson to have learned. I’ve started the dreaded task of paying off my student loans, and while I wish my sister would listen to me when it comes to this kind of thing, I can’t blame her for plugging her ears and humming. I did the same thing. Hindsight’s a funny thing.
I also learned how much the real world costs. Granted, I feel like NYC is kind of in its own bubble because the cost of living is kind of insane. In Wisconsin, I could buy a gigantic breakfast for under $5, where the same thing would probably cost between $10-15 in NY. You get not a lot of space for a hefty chunk of change. But you know what? It feels good to know you earned the money you’re using to pay for that tiny space. At the very least, it’s all your own. So maybe you have to live off eggs and ramen every now and again. There are worse things that could happen.
So, overall, I’d say it’s been a great year. I’ve been living in New York for about six months, and things are beginning to settle down. I have a routine, I have favorite places to go, and people I hang out with. 2012 is just going to get better. Maybe this will be the year I get an agent, or sell a book. Maybe I’ll meet Mr. Right. I’ve got things to look forward to, like my brother’s graduation from the Marines (aka a trip to California), and my parents coming out to visit in July. My sister’s coming to visit in a week. Being away from my family’s been tough, so it’s nice to know I’ll still get to see them.
As for the rest of the year, I have a different strategy (coming to you live from Phil Dunphy and, I believe, Hannah Hart):
(Assuming we’re not all dead before the year’s out.)