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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Buyer

#36: A Self Indulgent Reflection of 2021

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

Reflecting on the last year is cheesy, but I spend so much time with my nose to the ground that I enjoy indulging myself reflection around my birthday and the holidays. A year sounds like a short amount of time, but change happens quicker than we realize. 2021 and 2020 blend together as two years of world chaos and immense change in my life, but have been the best two years of my life so far.

Even if I could’ve predicted 2020 world events, my personal life would’ve still shocked me. I didn’t expect to leave Spain so abruptly, reconnect with old friends (and boyfriend), lose 35 pounds, spend a semester living alone in Boston, write a 40-page Economics paper in less than a week, sign a dream job offer more than a year in advance, decide to move across the country, discover that I like gardens, hiking, that I hate staying up past midnight, and drinking more than once a week. I’m forever grateful that 2020 was such an amazing year for me, especially given the state of the world and the struggles many people faced.

I’m always looking for self-improvement, and I was in such a great place at the end of 2020 that my only official “New Year’s resolution” was to keep it up and get a sticker on my diploma. Actually, I set a goal to read 20 books this year. I made it through about 5 outside of school. If you count school (I wasn’t planning to) then I think I made it to 19.

The idea of a New Year’s resolution is cute—it seems like a fresh chance accomplish something you either meant to accomplish or wanted to accomplish a long time ago. However, we often set these unreasonable goals without a plan to get there. The plan is simply to be a new person in the new year. Why don’t we learn that we can’t magically be better? Or even just different? Maybe it’s part of the human charm to have such unfounded confidence in our ability to change. We think that it’s possible to wake up one morning and start eating chickpeas and broccoli or running 15 miles without any evidence or practice. Sometimes we even hit the ground running by substituting excitement and confidence for motivation. This is great, for approximately 3-5 days, at least from personal experience…

I’m almost embarrassed to come up with any new year’s resolutions because I don’t want to be part of the laughable statistic of failed new years resolutions. I’d rather fail to achieve a goal at any other time in the year, so at least I’m not technically falling into the “new year, new me” trap. Grand gestures are idealized and romantic, even when we make them for ourselves. Unfortunately (or not) habits and tendencies are still the same from one day to the next, even if the next day is in a new year. I’m destined to fail if I think I can wake up January first and never eat another Oreo. It’s reasonable for me to make an incremental change---eat one less Oreo per sitting than last year. ** My guess is that so many new years resolutions fail because of the mentality we’re especially prone to on New Years that we can change all at once rather than taking small steps with a plan. **To be continued on when an incremental change is no longer enough.

Anyway, the point of this was for me to indulge myself with my achievements, not by sitting on my soap box again, so here goes on my accomplishments for 2021…

  • I graduated college with a higher GPA than I could’ve ever imagined. I set a goal to reach that GPA just for the satisfaction and a sticker on my diploma and I managed to do it. Turns out they don’t give stickers.

  • I’ve struggled like hell with my weight and body image these last few months, but I maintained my weight for the majority of the year with relative ease.

  • I moved across the country with one good friend and a handful of acquaintances. It requires consistent effort, but I’ve never felt better about my social life. I cried on my birthday because I failed a deadlift, not because I didn’t have friends to celebrate with. Huge improvement.

  • I started working in a completely different field from my degree or previous experience.

  • Of course, all the time dedicated to the gym even when the day was so busy or I was so stressed I didn’t think it was possible. I never missed a workout on a day that I intended to workout.

  • I learned to cook and enjoy vegetables. (Honestly, eating vegetables is the most unexpected accomplishment so far in my entire life. There was a higher chance I would graduate college than eat Brussel sprouts on my own free will.)

  • Finally, I started this blog last February. My 36 posts equal more than 50 pages of single space text in a word document. That means I’ve probably saved my parents 30 hours of not having to listen to me talk about this. At this point, it's just my personal online journal more than anything.

As I said, I was in disbelief of my 2020 accomplishments, but I can’t say the same for 2021. Some days are better than others, and I always wish I could do more, but there’s not a single thing about my life or this last year that I would truly change. I can’t stress enough that it’s not easy or perfect, but I somehow ended up living the life that I dreamed of as a kid—and working better hours. I want to think that the “somehow” was through hard work, and it is more than I give myself credit for if I take a step back.

It’s also thanks to the people around me—family, old friends, new friends, coworkers, and people I meet on the street. I could spend every day being grateful for these people and it still wouldn’t be enough. I’m known for being a pessimistic person, so if I’m happy with where I am… Well, that’s a big deal.

I lost my grandpa “Popper” this year. He was a great role model for my whole family. He didn’t come from much, and he lost his father at the age of 17. He still managed to get through law school and build a successful business on his own (with the support of my Gammie). He did every single thing in his power to take care of everyone around him- including calling the dentist office to cancel his appointment and thank them for the care before going into hospice. The best part about being the oldest grandchild is that I get the most time with my grandparents. I don’t have anything profound to say here, other that wanting to recognize such an amazing person.

We also lost our standard poodle, Rufus this year. Rufus and I didn’t always get along. I used to think it was a pain in the ass to take him outside when I got home or to take him for a walk instead of watching TV. It wasn’t until I came home second semester senior year that I was able to appreciate him. We did everything together for the last six months of his life. I rushed out of bed at 6am when he woke up crying to carry him down the stairs, and then back up the stairs after he went to the bathroom outside. I covered his pills in cream cheese every morning and shared my Walker Brothers bacon. I gave him endless hugs even though I’m sure he didn’t want any of them. I experimented by letting him off the leash on walks (knowing full well he was too slow to get away). More than anything, Rufus taught me how to care for someone else. I didn’t think it was possible to be so excited to watch a dog walk up the stairs on his own or wag his tail (which was rare near the end). I’m sure that’s not even half of how I’ll feel when I have kids.

Anyway…. the scary thing about living this dream is that I don’t know what more I could possibly accomplish or want. What if this is my peak in life?

For better or worse, I have the most time in my life now that I will ever have. I don’t have responsibilities or family or kids to look out for yet. This is the best time for have new experiences. I’ll always be me—the person that prioritizes work, sleep, exercise and safety but I want to be the uninhibited version of myself that says yes to weekend hikes and trips because I want to, regardless of cost (within reason). Next month I’m going to Las Vegas and Arizona. What’s next?

New Year’s Eve PR 200x5

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