I love reflecting. Something I constantly do is scroll through the saved notes on my phone remembering the thoughts that circled through my brain at the time I jotted them down. I enjoy seeing where my mindset was at the time I wrote them and then comparing it to how I feel today. I try to write everything down as much as possible so that I can do this often. I also try to keep tangible objects that remind me of memories so that I can conjure up specific feelings and moments to later reflect on. I enjoy seeing growth, change, and a difference in my life (which is surprising, considering how much I hate transitioning through change!). Having evidence that this change has occurred is relieving for me, and helps me evaluate the past non-judgmentally (although I do have some judgment reserved, as I like to laugh and shake my head at some of the things I’ve done).
In 2014, I made a goal to write down a paragraph about each day of the year so that I could later remember specific details with convenience. This proved disastrous; I’m very bad at holding myself accountable for daily tasks (even more so at the age of 16), and the goal ended up seeming like a daily chore rather than something that would provide me with a lot of memories for the future. I somehow made it through three months of doing this every day and it’s something I enjoy looking back on now (mostly because I now have proof of how naive I was at the time). Here are a few *notable* excerpts from my paragraphs:
January 7, 2014: Fell asleep for an hour in chemistry.
January 9, 2014: Chemistry sucks.
January 13, 2014: I hate chemistry.
January 28, 2014: Stayed home from school because I didn’t want to go to chemistry.
January 30, 2014: I sprayed Hugh with perfume hehe.
February 4, 2014: I accidentally cut my mouth on my new toothbrush and it snapped in half within 10 seconds on using it for the first time
February 5, 2014: Wasted my day on Pinterest
This little project that I did also shows present day Alli a lot about how 16-year-old Alli lived her life at the time. A lot of the recordings from my past have led me to evaluate how the certain habits, experiences, and friend groups that I had in my life at the time influenced who I was. Obviously, chemistry wasn’t my favorite subject but this had a lot to do with the teacher, my disinterest in science, my inability to pay attention in class, and the fact that my self care habits were totally distorted. Evidently, my blame fell on chemistry but I was unknowingly depressed and my habits of staying up late, habitually using social media, and failing to put my health first (especially my mental health) was detrimental.
Reflection is interesting (Side note: My friends told me I have to stop using the word “interesting” so frequently because I tend to use it as a conversational response which is not an appropriate use of the word and tends to be interpreted sarcastically) because, if you’re like me, you’re contemplating the past while simultaneously living a present that will be mulled over in the near future. Some might say this is disheartening; I like to view it dialectically by knowing that I’m constantly reflecting and improving yet doing the best I can at the time. For example, 16-year-old Alli was changing and improving herself in ways that bettered herself from the life she was living perhaps three years prior, and living the lifestyle that she was living at the time was the best she could do. Of course, I can look back and think to myself: “I needed to go to bed five hours earlier; I needed to pay attention in Chemistry because it’s useful; I needed to socialize more; I needed to slow down and relax and be mindful.” Or I can view it as: “I lived an unhealthy lifestyle that somehow worked for me at 16-years-old, and I’m going to use the lessons I’ve learned from this time to better my lifestyle today.” Aha! Dialectics are cool (cool has also been an overused word in my vocabulary since second grade).
Now that I’m done reflecting about the habits of 16-year-old Alli (I’ve written 16-year-old Alli so much in this post that I feel like she’s now a character in a book I’m writing), I’d like to reflect on 2017:
2017 was not a bad year. It was probably the best year yet, but I also say that about every single year except for 2015 because that was a sh*t show. I’m always learning and always growing, and each year provides me with so many opportunities to do so and reflect about them.
January: In January I returned to Clark from winter break (break was not so great because I basically spent the whole vacation working and didn’t give my body or mind any time to rest or recuperate from the fall semester). I reunited with my wonderful roommates (whom I often refer to as “the Boys”) who are basically my second family. Was gifted a deck of tarot cards from Jordan for a belated Christmas gift, which was cool but also dangerous because tarot cards, astrology, palm reading, etc. f*cks with my head so much. I spent the next month trying to convince myself that my tarot cards weren’t going to dictate the rest of my life, and Spencer is still trying to avidly instill this belief in me. Anyways, we later celebrated Jordan’s 21st birthday at Jordan’s Furniture and spent our time laying on comfortable mattresses, leaving notes for employees, and eating at Fudruckers. The Boys then created a D&D campaign with Megan and Mitch (“The Snakes”) and we all began hanging out together more which was wonderful. I tried D&D once and then decided that I’m better at watching them play it than I am engaging in it. Attended the Boston Women’s March at the end of January with Jordan and Megan which was amazing. This was the month Dylan became my roommate and Mitch started sleeping on my floor.
February: Held DJ auditions for our “Gravity get-together.” Trevor was the only one who showed up and we designated him as our DJ and dubbed him “DJ Wedge.” Brought the Boys back to Maine with me at the end of the month and we hung out in York and Portsmouth. Had an amazing waitress at the Friendly Toast while taking Robyn out to dinner who autographed a postcard for us which we later hung in The Apartment.
March: Traveled from Worcester, to New York, then to Canada during Spring Break (please read the last phrase in James Franco’s voice from Spring Breakers). Stayed at a funky hostel, ate amazing food, learned a lot about myself, and gained a wonderful friend. Also learned about BitCoin from a random dude staying at the hostel. Traveled to NYC with my art class to visit the Met, Guggenheim, and MoMA. Walked from the Met to the MoMA which I later learned from Cassandra is a very long walk but it didn’t seem so bad at the time.
April: Attended my first Spree Day at Clark! Slept for the majority of it, but memorable moments included Megan bringing me pita and getting sesame tofu for dinner with Matt, Spencer, and Rod. Celebrated Megan’s birthday at the end of the month.
May: Finished finals. Headed back to Maine for a month or so to finally relax. Spent the month gearing myself into a wellness based lifestyle and spending time with friends from high school. Started seeing a nutritionist and was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue, which prompted a huge turnaround in my life. This was the starting point for my self care journey.
June: Moved into my first real apartment in Worcester and partially became a real adult by beginning to pay for utilities and rent. Shared a room with Megan and thankfully lived in the same building as Cam, Spencer, Jordan, Jenn, Josh, and Alex (H). Started my marketing internship for the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival and gained two wonderful friendships. Learned so much about the city of Worcester and began to fall in love with my college town. Started running again.
July: Traveled to Cape Cod with Cam, Jordan, and Megan for the 4th of July. Significant memories included: Megan and I’s road trip, spending the afternoon at the beach, seesawing at a weird park near an airport at night, and running to a 4th of July parade in the morning. Mitch and Matt visited Worcester which was lovely. Got concussed for the second time (thanks Matt). Visited Rhode Island while concussed with some wonderful friends. Attended the Worcester Portrait Exchange with Megan and Jenn. Travelled back to Maine for the later part of the month to teach at an art camp and babysit. My visit to Maine prompted a sort of existential crisis where I examined my lifestyle choices and how I wanted to better my decisions in terms of self care (mostly pertaining to nutrition/diet, sleep, mental health).
August: Began working at Tower Hill Botanic Garden which meant I got to spend 15 hours a week surrounded by nature and (for the most part) nice people. Started reading more frequently and became interested in learning new knowledge for my own sake (this was a huge turnaround because high school really burnt me out in terms of wanting to learn new things. Since high school, I’ve felt really exhausted in terms of education). This month, I began focusing on learning things that I felt passionate about for the sake of my interests. Turned 20 and was surprised at midnight on my birthday by my amazing friends singing happy birthday with cake (a huge thank you to Es whom I love dearly!). Not that I didn’t realize it before, but I became increasingly aware of how thankful I am to have such amazing people in my life. This prompted me to be more mindful of my gratitude and I began recording a gratitude journal. At the end of the month, I started my Fall semester and was enrolled in 1.) The Art and Science of Management 2.) Managerial Communications 3.) Intro to Digital Filmmaking and 4.) Gallery Topics. Unfortunately, I got extremely sick during the first week of school which caused me to miss the majority of my classes. This was a huge setback for me in terms of wellness and education and created a brief roadblock for a lot of my goals.
September: Had a very depressing month, but was able to travel to CT to visit my friend Dom before he moves to CA. Had a great visit which allowed me to spend time with my friend and also escape Worcester for a bit which was very much needed.
October: Temporarily moved in with my third floor friends (and Jasper) which was another experience that made me very thankful for having great friends in my life. Spent some time couch surfing as I struggled with anxiety-induced insomnia and depression. Visited the deCordova Sculpture Museum and Gallery later in the month with my mom which was amazing. Their exhibit “Cool Medium” allowed me to reflect on my major and made me very happy with the decision I made to major in Media, Culture, and the Arts. Attended the festival for Rabbit Heart Poetry at the end of the month. Taught classes at a local retirement community for my management class.
November: Travelled to Maine with Matt and Spencer to film a project for my Digital Filmmaking course. We had such a fun time, and it provided a distraction from the turmoil I was facing with my mental health. Spent a lot of time laughing at the beach, played on the same playground I frequented as a kid, spent our evening in Portsmouth, and took Robyn out for breakfast in the morning. We were also unknowingly filming a sort of documentary of our friendship/weekend in the process. Saw Hugh for the first time in a year. Went home for Thanksgiving Break and focused on mindfulness and staying in the present. Had my art curated into a show for my Gallery Topics class.
December: Created a Gingerbread house with Matt, Cam, and Mitch for a contest which we made into “Wynaut’s castle.” Sort of saved Matt’s life by avoiding a car accident (long story). Started watching Are You The One with The Boys. Watched The Room for the first time. Travelled to Reading to see my family. Finished finals. Finally went back to Maine for winter break. Spent Christmas with my close family. Spent New Years with friends in Providence. Found out that I made the Dean’s List for the very first time! And I made First Honors with a GPA of 3.91. This was a massive accomplishment for me because I’ve been struggling with my academics a lot since I came to college. Also, I had such a difficult Fall semester in terms of my personal life so it was great that my hard work and gumption with school work paid off in the end.
Reflection: There were good parts and bad parts to each month, but overall I think this year allowed me to find out more about myself than ever before. I cut out toxic relationships from my life which I never had the confidence to do before. I began meditating and practicing yoga on a daily basis which has been extremely rewarding for my physical and mental health. I began “researching the self” by trying to evaluate my likes and dislikes, my priorities, and my goals. I began making choices for myself instead of others. I focused on relationships with family. I developed amazing friendships. Stating these facts and memories isn’t just me listing all the great times I’ve had. Honestly, this past semester sucked for me. A lot. I was depressed for the majority of it and had a lot of setbacks. But now the year is over and I can reflect on the growth that’s led me to where I am right now. I’m the queen of sugarcoating things: telling people “I’m fine” when I’m not, and slapping a fake smile on my face when I’m feeling like sh*t. But I’ve honestly learned that things get better and that there’s always a bright side to every dark side. Pulling out all the positives from a year that felt so negative allows me say that with confidence.
I don’t typically set resolutions for myself and when I have they’ve been super cliche, unrealistic, and unhealthy. I found a list the other day that I’d written as a middle schooler listing all the ways I wanted to better myself: “Lose weight, grow out my nails, buy new clothes, stop being so awkward, get light brown highlights.” Similar to my daily paragraphs from 2014, I’m glad I found this list because it made me stop in my tracks and evaluate things. First of all, the fact that losing weight, buying new clothes, etc. were my top priorities for the new year is very flawed. Second of all, a trend in these “resolutions” was that they all related to bettering myself for other people. None of them consisted of ways that would help me love myself; they were all things that I thought would make people love and accept me. As cliche as it sounds, if you don’t love yourself, no one else can truly love you. I’ve heard that so many times and didn’t fully grasp it until I began reflecting on it recently.
Let me be frank: I don’t love myself. BUT I have a grasp of the person I am. I accept myself. And I’m growing in ways that will help me understand and love myself. To be honest, the journey of self love started a long time ago but I didn’t realize what it would take to venture through it. I figured all it would take was me saying: “I don’t want to be who I am anymore! That’s it… I love myself! I love who I am! I love my life! I don’t hate myself anymore!” Now I’m realizing that if I want to love myself I need to be someone who I actually love. This means feeling happy when I’m by myself, not just surrounded by friends. This means looking in the mirror and shooting myself some finger guns and saying “damn you look good!” rather than standing in the mirror for two hours pointing out my insecurities and poking and prodding the things about myself that I want to change. This means accepting myself for my flaws and strengths, and if I don’t like something about myself it means either changing it in a healthy way so that I feel happy, or learning to accept it with a healthy attitude. It means viewing myself as my closest friend and treating myself with the love and compassion that I bestow upon others in my life.
With that, my intentions for the new year are not goals or resolutions. They are ideas of how I want to allot my time and energy in ways that will fulfill my goals and interests.
Intentions for 2018
1.) Focus on balanced eating. Right now I’m counting macros which has been unbelievably helpful for me. This means eating a set specific amount of protein/carbs/fat every day depending on your goals/body type. I keep track of my intake in a notebook that also contains awesome recipes.
2.) Tend to and develop friendships that make me feel loved and happy.
3.) Work on saying no and standing up for myself.
4.) Work on being more financially cautious and spend money only on products and memories that are worthwhile and bring me happiness. No more reckless spending!
5.) Engage in the arts by visiting more museums and attending shows and concerts.
6.) Prioritize academics.
7.) Develop a healthy sleep routine. Sophomore year of college I seriously went to bed at 4 AM every single night (or morning, I guess) and would then go to my morning class running on 3 hours of sleep (this was one of the factors contributing to my Adrenal Fatigue). Let’s just say that’s not a reality anymore, but sleep is always something I’m striving to work on.
8.) Not going out of my way for others who are not willing to do the same for me. This should also be flipped, as in not treating people like sh*t who give me the world.
9.) Try to do things that are scary. One of the biggest things that scares me is starting conversations, especially with strangers. This is something I’m working on, and I want to challenge myself to do more things that put me out of my comfort zone.
10.) Immerse myself in nature more frequently.
11.) Meditate, exercise, walk, or practice yoga every day. Making each one of these things a priority every day is unrealistic. There is no way I can do all four without making fitness and wellness my #1 priority. Considering I attend college full time and have a slew of other responsibilities to prioritize on a daily basis, I’m just trying to achieve at least one per day and if I do more than one per day then so be it!
12.) Focus on being mindful… not agonizing over the past or worrying about the future. Meditation really helps with this! I struggle with this so much so am really trying to work on it.
13.) Find more artists/musicians/bloggers/authors that speak to my values and interests.
14.) Improve my cooking/baking skills. These were nonexistent a year ago so I’m still improving.
15.) Don’t succumb to peer pressure or an uncomfortable environment. Drinking, etc.!
16.) Accept my physical appearance.
17.) Listen to my body. This means going to bed when I’m tired instead of staying up super late with friends. I also have Raynaud’s (which actually sucks) so it means putting on more layers when I’m cold.
18.) Become more educated. Read the news. Read books. Read articles. Read stories.
19.) Become more active- in the community, in events, in politics, in conversation, in my major, etc.
20.) Write, draw, or create art every day. I’m taking art classes next semester so this shouldn’t be too difficult, but it’s still a goal.
21.) Drink tea religiously.
22.) Speaking of religiously, practice religion. I’m Catholic, but I don’t practice my religion. I plan on going to church while at school. In addition, I’m also hoping to explore Buddhism and Paganism on my own.
23.) Spend time with family. Accept people as they are and learn to accommodate their personalities.
24.) Travel more often and say yes to more adventures.
25.) Know when it’s time to take a break, spend time alone, or go to bed. I guess #17 is tied with this, but I can’t delete it or all the numbers will be messed up. I’ll work on being less lazy a different year.
26.) Practice good hygiene- shower, skincare, nails, haircare. Develop routines.
27.) Use my camera more often.
28.) Stay more organized.
29.) Make mental health my #1 priority. Mental health is tied to physical health so both go hand in hand.
30.) Be a good conversationalist. Learn more about others while learning more about myself. Despite how much I talk, I feel really awkward and self-conscious when I do. I want to feel more comfortable in conversation rather than focusing on how uncomfortable I am.
31.) Learn to live without social media/digital connection. Right now I’ve eliminated Snapchat, refrain from posting on Instagram, use Twitter sparingly, and mostly use Facebook for school purposes (clubs, work, talking to friends from school, etc.). I’ve had my phone turned off for the majority of winter break which has helped me detox from it (it’s really weird saying that but it’s true). Deleting the social media apps from my phone and only accessing them through Safari has also been really helpful (Safari makes social media more annoying/slow to use which just makes me just not want to use it in general).
32.) Listen to podcasts/the radio. My Radio Journalism course from last year got me really interested in these mediums so I want to keep up with them.
33.) Surround myself with a positive environment and objects that bring me happiness and good energy. This relates to physical environments for me, although social life is still applicable. I’m planning on redoing my room at home because its current state has a lot of trauma associated with it. At school, I’m moving away from a living situation that was not so great for me and in with the Boys (yay!). During my senior year, I’ll be living with three of my close friends (Zohaib, Mitch, and Megan) so that will be especially positive. Also, crystals, sage, and plants are objects I want to integrate more into my life so I’m hoping this intention will help me do so.
How I’m Gonna Do it: Okay so that’s 32 intentions. That’s kinda a lot. Thankfully, these are things that I’ve already been working on and want to improve immensely on by the end of 2018. Also, it’s really hard to start big habits out of the blue so when you set a long term goal and create shorter, more reachable goals they end up seeming more realistic. I actually saw an awesome Pinterest post about habits the other day that I’m going to link below. Pinterest is really helpful and inspiring and can help with goals! Also, Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before is on my reading list which I’m really excited about leafing through (it’s about habits). I read her Happiness Project in August and it really stuck with me. This post is probably subconsciously influenced by that book.
Also, I started a Bullet Journal this week (shout out to Es for introducing me to it!). I bought it in December with Matt and have been putting it off due to my lack of creativity and time during finals. If you like writing lists, jotting down notes, staying organized, being artsy/creative, and planning things then pleeeeaaaseeee go and start a Bullet Journal! They’re the coolest things ever (again, with the word cool… I need more adjectives in my life) and they’re really helpful for managing tasks, setting goals, and planning anything and everything. I’m not completely finished setting mine up yet (still working on the front pages) but basically it’s a customizable planner that you can make with merely a notebook and a pen (or other supplies if you’re more creative than that). The beginning of the journal contains a yearly calendar and index, then front pages with significant modules that will be helpful for your life. For me, my front pages include: favorite quotes, intentions for 2017, a reading/movie/tv list, my travel aspirations, teas to drink for certain purposes, a list of crystals, notes on each astrological sign, tips for when I’m feeling anxious/depressed, and tips for concentration/studying (there’s more but that’s all I can remember at the moment). Everyone’s front pages are different, and I have a lot more than most people but it’s because these will be especially helpful for me to reference throughout the year. After this front section is a monthly calendar. After this calendar, I have a habit tracker (which will track my meditation, yoga, eating, walking, exercising), and then a sleep tracker where I’ll record the # of hours of sleep I get each night. It then transitions into a weekly planner where I’ll be able to write down daily tasks and notes. I will try to make a blog post about Bullet Journals in the near future!
Anyways, that’s pretty much it! One of my goals for winter break was to blog at least once and I’m really glad I decided to do it. My blog used to be my primary outlet for expression and I’ve definitely missed it. If anyone has any questions or comments then please feel free to comment or message me personally! Have a great start to 2018, everyone! 🙂
**If anyone doesn’t understand the reference of the title it’s from “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music.**