(emphasis on handful, because this year was jam-packed full of experiences - these are just the first ones that came to mind)
To begin, in January, I discovered my favorite restaurant with one of my best friends during a field trip for my favorite class with my favorite teacher. This may seem like a trivial mater, but for someone who values good food, this was a pretty pivotal point ;)
A few months later, I ditched a snowstorm for the one and only, Disney world. This was a nice break in between academic stresses and it gave me a mental break before the emotional hurricane that would follow with college rejections and decisions. This trip itself was not void of conflicts, but it pushed me to live in the moment, as fully as possible, which made this trip memorable and allowed me to ingrain the best of all of the memories into my mind -- I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Through tests and trials (and maybe a sheep brain dissection), I slowly began to discover and refine my academic interests - and trust me, this process has not been easy.
and on that same note, I started writing freelance for LoveLiveHealth! Writing for LLH and growing through this blog this past year has solidified my love for writing (fun fact: I wanted to be an author when I was younger, and I spent all of my spare time writing these stories that my brother still treasures in his room ;) - and no, the stories aren't good but he still likes them)
Having a steady part-time job has challenged me to become independent financially, which has taught me quite a bit about my personal habits and what's worth investing in. Challenging myself to be as independent and self-reliant as possible has its downsides, but I've become really proud of the independence.
After a trying year, both academically, mentally, and emotionally, I finally graduated high school (with more knowledge gained through experience rather than through classes :P) and proved to myself that hard work truly pays off -- and I do not say that lightly. The two weeks preceding graduation were probably the most difficult, but moments here and there made everything so worthwhile.
The day after graduating, I headed straight to Great Clips for a long-awaited haircut - 12 inches, to be exact ;)
A week or two after graduation, I was surprised with a split second of stardom
Senior year taught me who my real, life-long friends were and what I should seek in future friends. This past summer allowed me to celebrate and spend time with irreplaceable people who I value and who value me. Together, we tried new things and went back to old favorites, making this summer, by far, the best yet.
Trust me, this is one of the less graphic photos that I took during the two days I spent shadowing a veterinarian. Watching surgeries live was equally surreal and entertaining, but this experience also shed light on the realities of this occupation.
July 4th was well spent, with family, the Rainforest Cafe, and Chris Pratt.
I discovered a little beach town in my state that I actually like through a performance at this lovely venue(above).
Out of the several moments that I was blessed with to share a few last memories with my best friends before heading off to school, this afternoon spent driving around town and taking photos had to be one of the most memorable.
I also discovered a newfound appreciation and love for New York City via Erik Conover's vlogs.
Food is always important, and this year, I was able to cross off several places on my "restaurant bucketlist".
The first was Erin McKenna's bakery (both locations - Orlando and NYC!)
The second was "Beyond Sushi" ;)
I began to take advantage of my hometown for the first time before leaving for school; one of the places I had to visit one last time was Terhune Orchards during their Peach Festival
And of course, another huge change has been going to college. This past semester seems like a total blur right now, but a lot has truly happened (more than I'm willing to reflect on right now because it's too much for someone writing this at 10 pm to think about).
I sincerely believe that everything is meaningful, and there have been a lot of things that have made this past semester meaningful, but given that one of my goals in life is to simply find valuable people, the people that I''ve met in college have made these past few months purposeful.
Out of the many people that I'm grateful for, I'm most grateful for these two wonderful girls whom God has blessed me with, and the meaningful and deep but also lighthearted and silly conversations that we can have - sometimes for 4 hours straight on the roof of a parking deck in 45*F weather :) It's crazy how I spent my entire senior year filtering out people who have been in my life for over 10 years while it took me only a few months to find life-long friends like these two! They've kept me grounded and they willingly share my burdens - they are rare friends whom I treasure dearly.
In addition to my new friends, my support system (and maybe a few music playlists, 4 mile runs to clear my head, and nightly doses of melatonin) has kept me grounded amidst all of the trials and changes - my teachers (one even visited me at school! how many people can say that they're lucky enough to have teachers who practically become family members?!) , my parents, my brother, my cousins who support me from 900 miles away when I take risks and share my opinions, my best friends from high school whom I can have 20 minute long snapchat conversations with, and my two best friends on the other side of the country who keep in touch digitally and through hand-written letters. Given my type-A personality, I'm incredibly anxious to see what 2016 is going to throw at me, but 2015 serves as a reminder that I'll be able to get through anything because of these wonderful people in my life.
Here's to an eventful year full of self-discovery and change, and here's to a brand new one, full of potential and fresh starts.