At the end of every year, I always take some time to reflect on the year just past, and plan for the year ahead. Some years, it feels easy to make a list of a million awesome things I did. Other years, it feels awfully, awfully hard.
This is one of those other years.
For me, the theme of 2016 seems to have been abandonment and anxiety (words chosen both for being accurate, and for being an alliteration). Several of my closest Kingston friends moved away, and I lost other friends in ways I wish I hadn’t. Additionally, both my co-worker and my boss left the office, leaving me as the only full-time employee for about three months. For way too long, work projects and choices about my next educational step dominated my thoughts, keeping me up at night and gnawing away at my stomach.
But even hard years have highlights, and I think they’re even more important to remember now, so here are my top 10!
1. Queen’s Cares
Back in February, our office launched Queen’s Cares, a 4-day service learning initiative that took place over Reading Week. 14 students spent time learning about poverty in Kingston and volunteering at local organizations. I learned a lot about creating a program from scratch, and the students learned a lot about poverty and charitable organizations. Feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive, and it was amazing to see a vision come to life!
2. Grouse Grind
I completed the Grouse Grind, climbing 2830 steps without (completely) dying. If I’m going to be completely honest, this experience was hell, but it also taught me that I’m capable of so much if I just push through the hard part. I would do the Grind again in a heartbeat.
Back in March, I had the opportunity to attend the ACPA Convention (a conference for student affairs practitioners). I wrote about this in my March review, but it was basically a dream come true, as it gave me the chance to meet some of my Twitter friends, hear in person about work I’ve only ever seen online, learn how to grow in areas I’m interested in, make new connections, and learn, learn, learn.
4. Project Management
This is nerd alert #2 right here. Back in the spring, our office had a relatively short primer on project management strategies, and has since been documenting work plans and policies and procedures and goals galore. I can’t even begin to tell you how happy this makes me, and how much easier and less stressful it will make my life in the future. I’m on nerd cloud nine.
5. Wall Decorations
While I finished my Certificate in Student Affairs and Services program at the end of 2015, I officially graduated this year, and received my diploma in the mail. It looks pretty nice on the wall in my office. I also received a Volunteer Engagement certificate through Queen’s HR after attending a series of workshops, and have a nice little plaque to prove it.
6. My Brother Got Engaged
Yeah, this isn’t really my moment or achievement, but after what seems like forever, my brother is finally engaged to his girlfriend. Even better (for me), they’re getting married in Mexico, so I get a trip down south next fall!
7. My BC Adventure
I spent 3 weeks on the West Coast in October, reveling in the mountain views. The trip included stops in Victoria, Tofino, Vancouver, and Whistler, a visit with one of my oldest friends, and a whole lot of things I never seem to find the time or energy to do at home- hiking, biking, yoga, whale watching, sightseeing, and so much more.
8. Surf’s Up
I ‘learned’ to surf during my stay in Tofino- or more aptly, learned that I can’t surf. Do you have any idea how much arm strength surfing requires? A lot more than I have, I know that. Surfing is one of those things that’s a little outside the range of my typical activities- so much so, that my mother highlighted in her annual Christmas letter. Despite my dismal failure, it was still a lot of fun!
9. Committee Work
I’ve had the opportunity to get involved with several committees over the past year that have allowed me to learn more about, and contribute more to, my institution and field. At Queen’s, I joined the Senate committee for Scholarships and Student Aid, and have had the chance to learn more about how financial aid is managed and given out, how scholarship donations and endowments work, and have been given the chance to select students to receive certain scholarships. Within CACUSS, I’ve become a part of the Professional Development Committee at a time when professional development has really become a focus for the organization. Nerd alert, I know.
10. World Figure Skating Championships
I saw Meghan Duhamel and Eric Radford become World Champions. Javier Fernandez laid down an AMAZING free skate. Tiny little 16-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva won gold as I sat next to a very enthusiastic Russian family. While I missed Tessa and Scott, and Patrick Chan did NOT live up to expectations, I spent three days watching the world’s best figure skaters compete, and sharing the experience with complete strangers, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
What were your top moments and memories from 2016? Let me know!
Featured image by Nicole Crozier