When I celebrated New Years’ last year, I constantly exclaimed that 2016 would be “my year;” it was the year I would graduate high school, and the year I would head off to college and chase all the dreams I patiently waited to pursue for what seemed like an eternity. In my mind, every second of the next 365 days was strategically planned in my head. I meticulously imagined my senior prom, my high school graduation, my final summer, my college move in day and my first semester of college with excitement. As the year went on, each of those meticulously planned days ended up nothing like the image I had in my head, but as I reminisce on 2016, I am thankful for the spontaneous events that ended up becoming my favorite days.
When 2016 began, I had plans to “live up,” my last semester of my senior year of high school and I had many great and wild ideas for doing so in mind. However, these “wild ideas” did not translate into real life. Instead of attending a real high school party, my friends and I spent our Friday nights watching movies and having small get-together's. Instead of attending every high school sporting event, I spent my weeknights in the library at after school tutorials, where I socialized with my friends, or in my favorite teacher’s classroom. My senior prom was not spent with an attractive date or boyfriend, but instead with my little sister and my best friend. While many of the expectations I had for my senior year of high school did not actually happen, I never felt disappointed by what my second semester of senior year was like. Every single event that occurred was memorable, spontaneous and more fun than any of my expectations would have been, and as I look back on the first half of 2016, I would not want any other memories than the ones I currently have.
The series of unexpected and spontaneous events characterizing 2016 in contrast to the plan I initially wanted for 2016 continued through the summer and the latter half of the year. Instead of spending my “last summer” doing fun activities with my friends, I got the job opportunity of a lifetime and spent my summer at my new job. Later on in the summer, the plans I had for college and in essence, for my entire life, changed drastically and just two weeks before I was scheduled to move into my college dorm room four hours away from my home, I changed colleges to one only 45 minutes from my hometown as an undeclared major. This decision was a difficult one for me to accept, as I was and still am someone who is dependent on precise decisions and the approval of others. While my decision to change colleges and majors shortly before following the plans I had created for myself is still a decision I struggle to accept, I do not regret the decision I made and I thank 2016 for teaching me that no matter how many major plans you create and attempt to stick with, life will never go quite as planned because if it did, life would be quite boring and would lack important life lessons.
I am and always have been a firm believer that every event happens for specific reason, but this year has put that belief to the ultimate test. Despite my frequent disappoint in my decisions, as I look back on 2016, I am thankful for the decisions I made because of the growth I recognized within myself and the friendships I made along the way. In my time at a school I never thought I would attend, I slowly learned to stop fighting the process of becoming who I am destined to be, and through that lesson I have grown into a more patient and faithful person.I learned that while it is great to create plans for your life and important to try to stick to them, the substance of life is created through the detours, as those detours is where the elements of true happiness are found. The detours that occurred in 2016 were filled with moments where I learned about qualities I did not know I had, and realized dreams that I would not have otherwise pursued. In addition to these personal realizations, I also found friends that walked beside me through every single step I took, and without these detours, I never would have found them. If my life would have went as I planned it at the beginning of 2016, I would have missed out on so many people, events and lessons that I never want to imagine my life without.
As 2016 comes to a close and a whole new chapter approaches, I look back on 2016 and thank this year for the lessons it forced me to learn, even against my will. While this year was filled with many moments of confusion and decisions that I did not want to make, I document this year as the hands down best year of my 18 years of life. I am thankful for all of the ruined plans, unforeseen circumstances, and spontaneous moments because each of those moments caused personal growth and vivid memories that framed my most memorable and defining year. 2017 has huge shoes to fill.