year of dedication

Goodbye, Year of Ambition. Hello, Year of Composing.

For four years, I’ve selected a single word to highlight, headline, and motivate each upcoming year. There were years of discovery (2012), dedication (2013), exploration (2014), and even ambition (2015). No two years were the same and no single year was perfect, yet each held a divine combination of mystery and intrigue, absolution and enlightenment.

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In 2015, my aim was to be ambitious, to play to my Slytherin tendencies rather than denying them. And, for the most part, my ambitions paid off.

I completed three straight semesters of grad school, with virtually no breaks in-between. On that note, I changed grad programs and distinguished myself from my classmates. I helped my parents market their home, move states, and find a new home. I drove cross-country and didn’t have a single road accident, thank you very much. I was published (twice!) in a literary journal and earned the praise of professors I had yet to meet.

All in all, 2015 was a success…albeit I spent nearly as much time biting my nails, banging my head against (mostly figurative) walls, and wanting to wring the necks of others, as I did being ambitious.

Alas, the year of exploration has reached its end.


With that, it’s time to recognize the year of composing.

When I tried to think of my neon lit, red ink stamp, and billboard-sized word for 2016, I struggled to limit myself to just one word. In fact, “marvel,” “persist,” “build,” “write,” and even the phrase “take root” seemed to resonate with my hopes for this year.

In the coming days, I so desperately crave the wonderment of new experiences, the challenges of hard tasks, the process of putting together all the parts, the thrall of creation, and the glory of growth. But, none of those words truly suit what I wish to see and feel when it comes time to recognize the sum of 2016.

And that’s why 2016 will be the year of composing.

I ultimately chose to call this the year of composing because the word “compose” making my bones sing. The idea of making something whole, be it a story or other work, is absolutely intoxicating. I have a desire, a need to take pieces and make them whole, in whatever way I can.

In 2016, I want to compose. I want to compose the plot points I’ve been keeping in my head into a full-fledged story. I want to compose these semesters of grad school into a well-earned degree. I want to compose the divergent parts of me into someone that my younger self would admire, even as I undergo the stresses of graduation, moving, traveling, and searching for my first true job.

I want to compose something new.

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Keeping with tradition, I won’t write out (more specific) resolutions, but rather I will simply wish that at least 16 lovely things will happen over the next 365 days. That being said, feel free to post your resolutions or #oneword2016 in the comments below.

I hope that your hearts are full in the days ahead and, without further ado, let the pleasure and thrill of 2016 begin! Happy New Year!





Goodbye, Year of Exploration. Hello, Year of Ambition.

For the last three years, I’ve rejected the idea of explicit resolutions and instead made a habit of declaring a single word to embody each new year. There was the year of discovery (2012), the year of dedication (2013), and even the year of exploration (2014). Each year lived up to its name, albeit sometimes in surprising ways that pushed me to my limits and then a bit beyond.

In 2012, I discovered who I was away from my friends, outside of my hometown, and apart from everything that I’d always thought was certain, as well as who I was when I came back. In 2013, I dedicated myself to whatever felt important, including finishing my bachelors degree in English and refining my art. And, in 2014, I explored whatever struck my fancy, even as that led me to travel from coast to coast for months on end and begin a master’s degree in criminal justice. No two years were the same, yet no year was more or less enthralling than any other.

All of that being said, 2014 was pretty intriguing. I spent three months in California, Oregon, and Washington. Then I spent three months in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. That’s not to mention all the states and shores I visited on the way to and from those places. I turned 21 and wasted my newest privilege by drinking a pitifully small volume of alcohol (say “no” to big kablue-nas). I began graduate school and discovered that sometimes the student teaches the professor. I baked foods and treats I couldn’t even pronounce and used ingredients I’d never heard of before.

In short, I explored.

Now it’s time to put all of that behind me, to close the door on 2014’s wild exploration, and step into the year 2015, which already seems daunting and intoxicating.

Over the next 365 days, I’ll be traveling back to South Carolina, the state I know only through my family tree.  I’ll be completing my Masters of Criminal Justice degree, complete with nerve-wracking comprehensive exams. I’ll be leaving my friends and the only place I have ever truly regarded as “home.” I’ll be taking control of my health and defying my genetics. I’ll be taking important steps in my personal and professional lives, striving to achieve success through desire and determination.

All in all, 2015 can and will be nothing less than wild and engrossing, fast-paced and sublime. Thus, in the same vein of thought, I’ve decided to call 2015 the year of ambition. I chose the word ambition to embody or headline this year mostly because I have a strong desire to achieve multiple things this year. I have an end-game in mind and nothing will stop me from reaching it. In addition, I’ve come to realize that being ambitious is just in my nature and that is something to use to my advantage, to accept as a benefit. So, this year will be a journey in accepting ambition as a facet of my nature.

Keeping with tradition, as I jumpstart the New Year, I won’t write down any particular resolutions because, well, it just feels awful when a perfectly composed resolution isn’t fulfilled precisely as it was written. I prefer to stick with matters of certainty, like the inevitable graduation and move, and variety, like the generality of being ambitious in all my endeavors. Along the way, I simply hope that at least 15 marvelous things will happen.

Here’s to a year of purpose and cheers to everyone reading this. I hope that you find precisely what you are looking for in the exciting days ahead. Happy New Year!

Goodbye, Year of Dedication. Hello, Year of Exploration.

Exactly one year ago, I said goodbye to the “Year of Discovery” and hello to the “Year of Dedication.” Now it’s time to say hello to the “Year of Exploration” and all the wonderful things that it will inevitably bring.

This time last year I was having trouble dedicating myself to one thing and it was a big concern. I knew that my interests were broad and, in a definitive way, I wanted to do, be, and see a million things, people, and places. But, I also thought that having diversified interests was a fault that would hold me back in life, that desiring anything and everything was equivalent to a failing grade on the transcript of my life.

I was obviously very wrong. Actually, no, that’s an understatement.

I was wrong to the nth degree.

You see, they say that variety is the spice of life…and apparently that’s not just an idealistic idiom used to dress up and explain away chronic indecisiveness. I know, I know: duh. Cut me some slack though, I’m generally a contradictory mix of a realist and pessimist frequently operating under the pretty guise of an optimist–easy acceptance of social proverbs isn’t exactly my thing.

Essentially, what this means is that, at 20 years old and with a bachelor’s degree in English, it’s just now occurring to me that a turn of a phrase can be (gasp) more than regurgitated words. My year-long goal of being dedicated to one thing was inherently flawed because it is perfectly alright to be dedicated to a myriad of things. Interests can and do coexist, so it is effectively unnatural to choose just one.

Since I didn’t pick one thing and stick to it over these past 365 days, I suppose you could say that I failed in my New Year’s resolution, technically speaking. However, if I’m being optimistic, I suppose I subconsciously realized how absolutely unachievable my goal was and refused to attempt to complete it. Yeah, we’re going to go with that; it sounds better than admitting my own stupidity. 

I stand by half of my resolution though because, in it, I invited “thirteen tremendous things” to happen and, wouldn’t you know it, at least thirteen wonderful things did happen. Life is stressful and crazy, but is there anything to truly complain about when, in the past 365 days, I’ve graduated from college, developed a new love for classic literature, and learned to cook?

So, as we all say


I’ll also be saying hello to a year of exploration and embracing diversity in my experiences, interests, people, and places. And, hopefully, along the way, at least fourteen wonderful things will happen. I mean, wouldn’t it be delightful if, as the years counted up, so too did the wonderful happenings within them? (Hmm, maybe this optimism thing isn’t just a guise…)

Here’s to a year of exploring whatever there is to be found and dedicating myself to anything that strikes my fancy. I’m sure there will be lots to experience with an upcoming cross-country move, starting my master’s degree, writing a young adult novel, and so many more little projects in the works, and I honestly cannot wait.

Happy New Year, everyone, I hope that each and every one of you have a sublime 2014.