(long post ahead-read at your own risk-you’ve been warned)
As I reflect on the year it has been, I realized that I learned more about myself than any other year. It has been a year of changes, growth, checking things off the bucket list and becoming a better person overall. There was a hell of a lot to celebrate this year too. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m pretty damn proud of myself.
The year started on a fresh note with a new job. Although that job did not work out, I learned that when something is not making you happy or challenging you, CHANGE IT. And I have to say, I am SO happy that I did. That was a big step for me, quitting a job without having something else lined up. But I was miserable and it was affecting my life in every way. And I hated it. Growth, part 1.
In between, there was a best friend adding a new member to the family, amazing trips with wonderful friends to Chicago for SpartyBall, California for my 29th birthday, the fam’s last Red Wings game at Joe Louis Area, and LOTS of Spartan sports.
Then, there was the budgeting, job searching, and the soul-searching. (Oh, and the fun little project of starting Life Nuggs!) And let me tell you, I learned so much about myself in that month where I was not working. I learned what made me happy career-wise, my ability to be strong and stand-up for myself when needed, and shockingly, my ability to budget better and lay off my Amazon addiction. (that was a hard one…)
Then came what I had been hoping for since I graduated…a job offer from MSU. I knew in that moment that things were going to be okay. The mothership called me home and I was fucking thrilled!
June rolled around and the trip of a lifetime to South Africa happened. I think about that trip almost every single day. There was just something about that place that has stuck with me. I think about how some of those families life, in Soweto for example, and then my first world problems don’t seem so big.
Africa made me look at everything differently. It also showed me that being out in nature, with animals running freely, can be incredibly therapeutic. I LOVED being out in the bush. As tired as I was, I looked forward to my 5am wake-up call to go out on our morning safari ride. There was just something about that place. It was magical. The people. The atmosphere. The hospitality. The pride in their culture. The music. The food. It all made me so happy. And I didn’t feel the need to constantly check my phone for emails and Facebook notifications. I could just be present in the moment. And in doing that, made me so much more in tune with my body, mind, and emotions. (That is one of my big resolutions for 2018. Be present in the moment. As in, put your damn phone down, Erika!)
Africa also brought out this adventurous side of me that I completely loved. From sleeping out in the bush with the family under the stars to paragliding off Table Mountain, I was this whole new person. Willing to take a risks, step WAY out of my comfort zone and just live in the damn moment. I even swam with sharks in Cape Town next to Seal Island. It was thrilling. The adrenaline rush was unlike any other. And it was life-changing. One thing about Africa that made me fall in love, was that I never once had anxiety attacks. I mean there was some anxiety, like when I was putting on my wetsuit to go jump in the ocean to swim with sharks…but other than expected anxiety, I was stress-free. It was a truly beautiful thing.
After my life-changing trip to South Africa came the new chapter in my life-my career at MSU. I decided to become vegan for a while and saw an immediate impact. My confidence went up and I felt so much better about myself. Although I may be the worst vegan on the planet, (I ate meat for lunch LOL), I’ve changed the way I eat, look at food and how I fuel my body.
And before I knew it, it was football & tailgate season. The turnaround year that no one expected. Although I was cautiously optimistic. Yet, this team powered through like only Spartans can and came out with a few HUGE wins and as of Thursday, a bowl game win for a 10-win season. Proud only tips the edge of what I felt watching this team play this year.
The remaining months of the year included a wedding, celebrating my amazing mom’s 60th by throwing a killer surprise bash for her, two trips down to Florida, lots of ugly sweaters and just all-around great times.
Needless to say, 2017 was one for the books. It was seriously a hell of a year. Lots of ups and downs, but we are ending the year on a high note. Brunch, Spartan basketball, most likely a nap, and spending time with my people tomorrow. I can’t wait.
But as I look forward, I know that 2018 is going to be the best year yet. And I say that for a few reasons; 18 is my lucky number, I turn 30, and because I have everything I need to make it the best. Friends, family, nuggs, and all the love a girl could ever need.
Thank you for following me on this journey. It has been such a fun project and I can’t wait to share more with you next year!
So 2017, boy bye! It has been all sorts of real. But cheers to you, 2018. I have no doubts you’ll be EPIC.