This time last year, I was almost five months away from my high school graduation and eighteenth birthday. I was absolutely and completely happy. We were running head first into a year that I honestly don't think anyone saw coming. It's funny to look back on those memories now, right on the edge of 2017 because so much has changed since then. In the words of the movie legend, Steven Spielberg, "All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives." And I agree with him. I know that I'm not the same Kaycee that I was twelve months ago. I have met new people, made new decisions, and learned new things about myself that I hadn't known. While this past year has also had its fair share of heartbreak, loss of friends, and people I've loved, when I think about all the things I've experienced this year, I am amazed at myself and the equally as wonderful people around me. With that notion, here's to you, 2016- the best year of my life so far.
January- Getting asked to Prom
My favorite memory from January had to be on the 28th, when I got asked to Prom. After making it to my car on a cold and rainy day, I turned around to see my very best friends around me. One of my best guy friends opened his jacket to reveal a tshirt he had on with the words Prom? written across the top. My answer choices ranged from "yes" to "of course" to "heck yeah!" I think the look on my face says it all.
February- My first Literati competition
At the beginning of my senior year, I heard about a new club we were starting on campus called the Literati. Basically quiz bowl, but for books, I was in. After reading several books on a list of award winning novels, my team and I made our way down to Valdosta to compete in the Helen Ruffen Reading Bowl. My team of four girls plus myself placed fifth overall. We were so proud! Considering it was the first ever Literati team at my high school, so long as we didn't come in last, we were promised ice cream on our way home. So before every round we would all put our hands in, count to three, and scream, "For ice cream!" It was worth every moment.
March- Being Named the 2016 Valedictorian
Here's a story that I will never tire of telling. On March 25th, I woke up to several calls and text messages from various peers and teachers. Since my family had a trip planned for later in the afternoon and because of many of my teachers being out, I did not go to school that morning. After finding out that the school administrators had planned on awarding Val/Sal that day, I was a mess...literally. I cried the entire time getting ready, driving to school, and arriving inside. I cried and cried and cried and I still had tears flowing. My dream of eight years had finally came true! To top it all off, I also got to share the moment with one of my really good, longtime friends. How many people get to say that?
April- Grad Bash and Prom
As the end of the school year began, my calendar filled up quickly. Between senior year activities, work, and church, I was running around everywhere! But I also wouldn't have had it any other way. Towards the end of April, I had the opportunity to go on the Grad Bash trip- one night where Universal Studios in Orlando is taken over by only high school seniors. For one night, my friends and I were allowed to run rampant in an amusement park. Not to mention we had the best chaperones around. It was so much fun! The weekend directly after that was Prom. Complete with a limo, senior walk, after party, and one quite embarrassing fall in the restaurant, Prom was all for which I could have ever asked. In addition to all of that, April also brought the prestige of Honor's Night, college acceptance, and yearbook arrival as well! Whew!
May- Graduation and my 18th Birthday!
Okay, does this have any contest? By far one of the best days of my life was May 21, 2016. Not only did I graduate high school as the 2016 Valedictorian, but I also became a legal adult all in the same day. No way does it get better than that! Following my speech and the graduation ceremony, I also got the chance to party with all of the people closest to my heart. God's blessings are everywhere!
June- The Governor's Mansion and my Graduation Trip
At the beginning of June, I was invited to attend the Governor's Mansion as a result of graduating Valedictorian. That day I got to see friends of mine who I had not seen in months and years. It was such a beautiful moment! The next week, my family and I spent the weekend in Atlanta touring places like the Fox Theatre, the Margaret Mitchell House, and the Swan House. My parents and brothers are some of the most fun people I know, and we all made the trip a blast! Later that month, we also went to the beach.
July- The Dog Days of Summer
Summertime is a favorite down here in the South, whether it be thanks to the warm weather perfect for swimming, the ice cream and snow cones, or the days free to spend. For me, it's all of the above and more. July flew by in a mixture of giggles, plans for the future, pool days, and movie nights.
August- Starting College and becoming an Ambassador
I was terrified of starting college. Not one for much drastic change unless I'm the one condoning it, I wasn't excited about all the "grown-up" decisions I was about to have to make. However, out of all of my stress, confusion, anxiety, and worry came one of the best things I've done. I became an ABAC Ambassador. Myself, along with fourteen other beautiful souls, would get to tour prospective students across campus. I became a part of this fantastic group of elite students, and I am forever grateful for their continued friendship.
September- My Nana's Birthday Party
This September, I decided I wanted to throw a birthday party for my Nana. With girls only allowed, my mama and I threw a tea party, asking each guest to come outfitted in a special over-the-top hat. We had the best food, games, and conversations that any of us had had in a long time. There's nothing like getting together with friends!
October- Disney World
Prior to our trip in October, the last time I had been at Disney World was as a fifth grader. This time around, my grandparents, parents, brothers, uncle, and two cousins all spent three days together. It was a very different experience going as an eighteen year old, but the magic was just the same! While there we also took part in Mickey's "Not so Scary Halloween Party" and trick-or-treated around the park. Before the night was out, my mama, brothers, and me had gotten so much candy that it was difficult to fit inside our bags to bring home!
November- Operation Christmas Child
Anyone who knows me can readily say that my favorite service project has to be Operation Christmas Child (check out my article on it! >> https://www.theodysseyonline.com/good-news-great-joy) Through the organization, I am able to help children across the world come to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There is no greater joy than that gift! In November, following the National Collection Week where I worked at my church, a group of us traveled to the Atlanta shoebox distribution center. This year I even got to share the trip with my best friend for the first time. It was such a blessing to our hearts!
From my church's float in the Christmas parade, to my Ambassador Christmas party, to staying up all night at a youth lock-in, to getting to hang out with my best friends, to seeing my family, to opening gifts, this holiday season has made me so happy. I have so many reasons to be thankful! As Jesus truly is the reason for everything we do in life, I have been allowed to spend both Christmas Day and New Years in church, a privilege not everyone is afforded. To God be the glory!
Like I said, the person I was at the beginning of 2016 is not the person I am now. Neither is the person I am now who I will be by the end of 2017. But in all that time, in all the memories I'm making, I'm evolving, creating, being, existing, and praising God for what he continues to do in and through this crazy life of mine. This New Year has some pretty big shoes to fill!