Twenty-Ninteen.

Twenty-ninteen. What a year it has been. As with every year, there were highs and there were lows. Even with the lows, I can honestly say this has been the best year of my life. So many milestones were a part of my 2019. While it felt overwhelming at times to have them all happen at what felt like once, I am entering into 2020 feeling more content than any time I can remember.

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As I look back on 2019, I can’t help but look a little further back to 2018. It feels like 2018 was so long ago and that it was a year of change and transition for me. In fact, if I had to define the year in one word, it would be change. New city, new place(s) to live, a new relationship, new job(s), a death of a dear family member, etc. It was a year that tested me in many ways. This also help me feel a greater sense of what I valued professionally. And understanding of what kind of space made me most content. And so much more really. But at every turn, it felt like there was a new change.

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My year started ordinarily enough, then snowpocalypse hit and suddenly we were buying a house. And with that house came a whole new sense of responsibility, but also a whole new type of happiness. Happiness in knowing this would be a place I would call home for the foreseeable future. Happiness in being able to make this place feel like home. With all of that happiness also comes immense responsibility, which we were thrown right into. Namely, on the appliance front (read. we had to replace three different appliances right when we moved in).

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With buying our own home, the possibility of us to doing something we had wanted to do for so long opened up… bringing home a sweet pup of our own. I never knew how much joy a dog could bring to my life until we adopted one of our own. Mickey has truly brought so much happiness into our lives. The love of a dog is one of the purest things in this world and is more than welcome on the darker days. While she does have her quirks being a rescue dog, she is the best dog I could ask for.

Caitlyn + Riley's Wedding Day

While buying a house and adopting a pup would probably have the THE highlight of any other year, they did not quite take the cake this year…. Well, because my sweet Riley and I got MARRIED! That is easily the biggest highlight of the whole year. It was truly the best day of my life. Being able to stand in front of the people that mean the most to us and promise to love and support each other for the rest of our lives will not something I ever forget. I am grateful everyday for my sweet husband and thankful that he chose me to love through this beautiful little life of ours.

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Even as I sit here writing this post, it is hard for me to put into words what the past year has meant to me. I don’t want to give the impression that the past year was perfect, because it wasn’t, but I would feel ungrateful if I didn’t recognize it has been my best year yet. The positives overwhelmingly outweigh the negatives and for that I am more grateful than I can tell you.

I am struggling with where I should go from here. End it here, stick to the highlights or hit on the harder parts of this year. Never do I want to put forward an unrealistic picture of perfection but I also don’t want to seem as though I am complaining when I live a pretty great life. I whole heartedly believe that the things that test us and challenge us are put on our doorstep to teach us something. So that is how I would like to look back on my low points from the past year.

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It is important to advocate for yourself. I believe this is true in all aspects of your life, but became the most relevant to me in my professional life over the past year. In most things, I am a people pleaser. I like to be helpful and have a hard time saying no; much to my detriment at times. Throughout the past year, my inability to say no and take on extra work started to really catch up to me. While I have a wonderful and supportive boss, I still felt there was a boundary that was not allowing me speak up for myself. And it was bugging me. Why couldn’t I just stand up for myself? Advocate for my needs?

In my communications courses in college, there is a theory called the standpoint theory. It states that every experience in someone’s life culminates to determine how they will react to a given situation. It taught me to look back on past experiences to gain insight when running up against an internal struggle or reoccurring problem. So when I realized that I kept putting up this internal stop sign, I asked myself why.

I started to realize that I had, had quite a few experiences in the past when advocating for myself had backfired or my concerns were cast aside. These experiences were telling me to not say anything because it wouldn’t matter. While I am not the perfect self-advocate with the snap of my fingers, I am at least learning to recognize when it is important to advocate for myself despite any uneasiness I may feel.

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It is okay to not be okay. This lesson goes hand in hand with the first in some ways. I reached this point this past November, where I everything felt like it was crashing down. My perfectionism, my overwhelming amount of work, my volunteer responsibilities ramping up and trying to learn how to be a good wife (putting some unrealistic expectations upon myself in the process) were at a peak. And it came to a head. I broke down. I had a panic attack.

I had been trying to hold it together. Not let things overwhelm me. Not burden others with the things that I was feeling. But I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed that moment to realize when I am feeling overwhelmed or upset that I can go to my husband or mom or friends and don’t need to put on a happy face. I learned that talking to those close to me is not the same as pouring my soul out to every random person on the street. Its okay to not be okay, without being obnoxious about it.

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The lessons I have learned in the past year are invaluable. The combination of personal growth and many, many, many happy moments, makes it is easy for me to say that 2019 has been my best year yet. I cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store for me! Until next time, friends… CML

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