2014 mattered

I didn't go to Africa in 2014 like I did in 2013. And I didn't get engaged or pregnant or married like a lot of my friends. I didn't renovate a house like my sister. Or have a baby like my sister either. I didn't go back to grad school, switch companies or invent anything. 

No, sir. I didn't do any of that stuff.

But you know what? 2014 still matters. 

It was a year of small, beautiful changes that probably don't look like a ton to an outsider, but that meant a lot to me. It was a year of personal growth and risks, reflection and change. It was a year of countless little moments that added up to a whole year that turned out to be really beautiful.

This is what 2014 looked like for me:

I signed up to take the GRE.
I'm bookending the year with a small step that might seem like nothing to you - but was scary to me. I'm taking a GRE prep course at Emory and am taking the GRE on January 9. This is big for me, because I'm not much of a standardized test taker. I somehow manage to overthink questions and rush at the same time, all the while wondering why there isn't a box to explain my rationale. 

I've wanted to take the GRE for a while, but haven't because I really like to do things well, and I'm afraid I won't.

So I signed up for the course and it started Tuesday night. I forgot how fun learning is! I'm so invigorated by being back in the classroom. 

It's also a big decision for me because I don't exactly know what I'm going to do with the GRE. I'm a big picture thinker, so I normally operate by seeing A to Z and rushing through it as quickly as possible. But the GRE? It's just B. It's a small step that will open up some doors and possibly move me toward Z. But honestly, I don't even know what Z is. And that's scary for me. But 2014 was about learning to love the means as much as the end - learning to love the middle as much as the grand finale.

I reflected, a lot.
2014 will now and forevermore be known, in my life, as the year of reflection. Honestly, probably a little too much. I snuggled right up to introspection and poked and prodded until I learned more about myself that I wanted to know.

But it was important. I needed to ask the tough questions - like how I want to spend all my working hours each week, where I want to invest my non-working hours, what I want my relationships to look like - and so much more. It was a year of some really deep learning about who I want to be and where I want to go. And on the outside, I don't have a ton to show for it. But the journal entries, unslept hours, conversations with friends and family and hours in prayer are there. And all that work helped me take my first step: the GRE. And one step is a start.

I fell in love. 
If you've ever been really hurt before, falling in love is scary and, you suddenly understand why it's so aptly named: it's total free fall. It's that feeling where you just can't stop yourself and you'd love to have a parachute in case there's a hard landing - or even something to grab onto on the way to slow you down a little bit. But, you can't. And the scariest part is that you have to choose to be vulnerable, over and over again. You have to open up your heart and share the hardest feelings and emotions. But it's so worth it and 2014 taught me that.

I quit food and exercise rules, totally. 
On Tuesday, I didn't have time to exercise because I had work, two appointments and the GRE class. I got home at 9:45 p.m. and stood in the kitchen, eating ice cream and looking on Pinterest for haircuts for my sister. And I thought: this is actually a beautiful feeling. To have the freedom to eat ice cream so close to bedtime, sans workout. I think will always be someone who loves exercise and chooses healthy foods over non-healthy foods. But it feels so good to have freedom, balance and the ability to eat intuitively. It feels so good to believe that who I am and what I'm worth doesn't change day-to-day or based on my performance. I yearn for everyone to know how this feels. 

I learned to share my ideas. 
When I went to Africa I got in trouble with some of my dearest friends because they found out about the trip via my blog. I know. It was bad. The trouble was that I prefer to get all of my ducks in a row before sharing. So this year, I worked on it.

I tried to start a backpack program this summer to help get food to kids in Atlanta who don't have enough. It didn't work for a myriad reasons - namely because so many churches are already doing it. But, I shared it with some people. And, this fall, as I've made more life decisions and pursued other projects, I've learned to share them too. I'm learning that my friends and family don't judge me when the ideas fail, but instead cover them in prayer while I try. And that's much more important.

I had a really good time. 
2014 meant a full year with my brothers in Atlanta - living above me, nonetheless. I took on a new job at work. I dated Chris for a full year. I grew deeper in friendships both near and far. I got to go on wonderful trips with my family. I got my appendix out and bought a car. I slept in a tree house. I laughed, I cried. And I was reminded that life is about connecting with people, loving one another well and remembering that we're all in this big world together.


So that's 2014.
I believe that some years are for going hard and building things; and some years are for slowing down and reflecting. I don't know that I slowed down in 2014, necessarily, but I built less and reflected more.

I don't know what 2015 will hold. It might be for building up, breaking down or - heck - staying the same. It might be for going fast or slowing down. I don't know what will happen, but I feel so grateful for all that 2014 brought.

So, December: here's to you! The last month in beautiful, bountiful, 2014.