As far as years go, 2018 has been a significant one. From 120 million people gaining access to electricity this year to the fall of US cigarette use to the lowest amount ever recorded by the CDC, we’ve set precedents and taken steps towards the world we aim to become. The end of the year is an important and nostalgic time to look back and recognize our successes and shortcomings both in our world and ourselves.
Who we were in years past influences who we are now, but if I met the person I was last year on the street, I don’t think I’d like her very much. 2017 me was a bit of a chaotic mess. She was a stressed perfectionist who cared way too much about what total strangers thought of her. In the words of John Mulaney, she acted like she was “running for mayor of nothing.” 2017 me lacked a basic confidence I’ve really been able to gain this year.
The changes I’ve undergone have been spurred by several events building on each other. This summer alone, I survived my first plane flight, alone, and navigated a connecting flight in Atlanta (where my phone was stolen and I was left without the ability to contact anyone). I embraced responsibilities, independence, and fun as part of the planning team at Montreat Youth Conference, which were possibly the best two weeks of my life. I was on stage in front of over a thousand people! Multiple times! These things forced me to muster up courage I didn’t know I possessed and work my way through.
The new people I’ve met have influenced me as much as these experiences. In moving recently I’ve been able to meet so many incredibly talented and warm people, as well as learn from teachers who saw potential in me. Everything I’ve experienced this year, from adventures to fellow adventurers, has created a perfect storm that created the person I am in this very instant.
Of course, as the new year rolls in, new influences are introduced and we will be constantly met with situations that challenge and expand our idea of self. At the end of 2019, I will likely view the 2018 version of myself in much the same way as I currently view last year’s self, because I’ll have grown. We as humans are constantly trying to better ourselves and our impact on the world around us, and that is exactly what I intend to do.
The statistics used in the beginning of this post were from Quartz’s article The 99 best things that happened in 2018. It’s a smile-inducing read that helps counteract the negativity constantly present in news media and around every corner.