I don’t even know where to begin to describe this last year. It’s been all over the place, both literally and figuratively.

I think the fact that I can barely remember all the way back to my birthday last year shows just how much has happened in the last 365 days. A lot of it feels like a lifetime ago. I guess I’ve had a pretty packed year. Sure, it was a little directionless, but looking back at my photos to remind me of what’s happened, I’m actually really surprised by how much I’ve done.

I’ve written a lot about building the life I want and making myself available to new opportunities, but I didn’t think I was making much progress on actually making that a reality until I went back and looked at the year as a whole and realized that I spent the majority of the year taking advantage of those opportunities. I got to travel. I got to see a bunch of Broadway shows. I got to see my favorite musicians perform live. I got to spend time with family and friends. I got to do silly things like apple picking, planting a garden, and building a snowman, but they’re exactly the kinds of things that make me happy.

I need to work taking leaps on a smaller scale: the little everyday decisions that can change your life’s trajectory.

It turns out that all of those little decisions I talked about back in February actually managed to change my trajectory in a big way. I never had a real plan for this year. I had a general direction and the freedom and confidence to make decisions based on what I thought was right instead of what was expected of me. It’s made a huge difference.

Funny enough, a few days ago I found this article on Thought Catalog about 27 being your crisis year. I wasn’t quite in crisis, but it definitely rang true!

This year has involved a lot of questioning the life I’d been living, the career choices I’ve made, the opinions and assumptions I’ve held. Maybe it’s a result of having a lot of time to reflect, or maybe it’s a result of developing a stronger sense of self and confidence through all of the experiences I had this year, but I finally understand what it means to feel “grounded.” I’d never go as far as saying I “found myself” this year. That’s way too cliché. But I did manage to learn a lot about what makes me tick. I’ve accepted a lot of my idiosyncrasies and started to work toward changing the ones that I realized were holding me back. I even questioned my technology choices and made the shocking switch to Android. Crazy stuff.

I realized a few important things this year that led to my making some radical decisions including subletting my apartment in NYC, downsizing my belongings, and moving back to my mom’s house. A few weeks after that I booked a one-way ticket to Thailand for what turned out to be 7 weeks of backpacking around Southeast Asia. I wouldn’t have come back as soon as I did if I didn’t need to get my passport renewed. The trip was eye-opening in a number of ways, but most importantly, it reminded of my “secret” dream of traveling the world and taking photos that I’d filed under Childhood Fantasies and brushed aside for a more practical career path.

What I discovered, though, was that traveling around the world, meeting and learning from new people every day, facing the challenges of being in a foreign place, and trying to capture what it feels like to be there with my camera made me feel completely in my element. That discovery is what’s carrying me into my 28th year.

I jotted down 4 “goals” for this year in my 27th birthday post. The biggest one was obviously travel, and I think I tackled that one thoroughly. I visited Seattle, Vancouver, Oslo, LA, San Diego, San Francisco, Ithaca, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Malaysia in addition to lots of trips home and to Connecticut to visit family. Relationships were a bit of a mixed bag. Things on the family front continue to improve, but I haven’t had as much contact with my friends since I left NYC. This is definitely something that I still need to find balance with. Health-wise, it went downhill for a while, but I managed to undo a lot of that during my backpacking trip. I’ll need to put some serious effort into this in the coming year if I want to reach my goals. Then there’s “do something with a positive impact”. I failed on this one for sure, but I do have some ideas for how I can work on it going forward.

The odd thing is that I never actually felt 27. For some reason the year always felt wrong to me. I accidentally slipped and said I was 28 on more than one occasion. I think I’m meant to be 28. I’ve grown into my age. I think this will be a good year.

Lacking any sort of consistent income at the moment, it’s really difficult to make any guesses about what the next year will hold. I’ll need to support myself and my travel habit somehow, so I have a few things in mind, but only time will tell what will stick. I’m going to follow suit from last year and list some themes instead of concrete goals:

  • Support myself through work that involves consistent travel or living abroad.
  • Integrate improved health and fitness into my everyday life.
  • Improve how I develop and sustain relationships when distance is involved. I'm far from my old friends, far from my travel friends, and not in one place long enough to get serious about dating.
  • Speaking of dating: The whole being single thing is getting old. Yes, I move around a lot, but that's not an excuse.

I get the feeling that my goals will follow a lot of the same themes over the next few years. Work, health, relationships: that kind of sums up life! Of course, I’ll continue to keep some form of my Accompl.sh list, but it’s good to have a direction to point toward and check off my Accompl.sh goals along the way.

I feel like I’m in a place where I’ve figured out what it is I want to go after and have put almost all of the pieces in place that I need to tackle it. It might mean forcing myself off of my old path and onto a new one, or maybe the two will merge somehow, but I finally have the confidence to ignore what other voices may think or say and to do what I think is right and what makes me happy.

So 28? I think we’re going to be friends.

Past Birthday Posts: 27, 26,25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19 (lost), 18, 17 (lost), 16