2016: a year of decisions + truths

Where did the year go? Honestly, I keep thinking it's August. This year was a ride and it seemed to fly by. 

2016 has followed one of the hardest and most incredibly dreamy years of my life {2015}. A year I spent 7 months of traveling full time domestically and internationally. It was a really wild one, 2015. For sure. But every year in my twenties has been wild. Yeah, all of them. 

I say how incredible and challenging and adventurous and wonderful the last five {nearly six} years of my life have been not to humble-brag, but because it's the honest truth. My twenties thus far have been better than I could have imagined.

I found myself, my heart, my calling, my voice, and my home in the past half decade.  

And I feel really lucky. 

It's not all been trimmed in white picket fences. Not at all. My life at times can be the most un-glamorous. Long layovers, storage boxes, sad goodbyes, and 'wtf do I do now?!' meltdowns are all part of the package deal. But I gladly take it. 

I think what has allowed me to move past any tiny hard bits of an otherwise exciting and light life is that I look back at it all and feel really grateful. 

I think about drinking on a Wednesday afternoon with a house full of my best friends {family} in Palmerston North. Or dinners with friends and too much wine in Auckland. I think about surfing off the coast of Chile with sea turtles and Tash. Getting sunburnt in Melbourne with Keegs, watching the sunset in Santorini with Bailey, listening as the Foo Fighters perform live with Lindsey {and Devin!}, and hiking the Inca Trail to cap off 31 days in South America with an old friend who rapidly became my very best friend. I think about giggling while watching elephants bathe in the Mekong. I think about brunch in London and beautiful Oslo. I think about fighting off the tour groups at the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, Hanoi's lack of coffee, vending machines in Tokyo, and all the strange things seen in Hong Kong. I think about my girls in Laos and face masks with Dora. I think about 10 days in New York City having the most ridiculous laughs on one of the best trips of my life with my favourite people on a rooftop in Harlem. I think about wine in the Loire Valley and the Louvre in Paris. I think about bungee jumping and skydiving back 'home' in New Zealand

And, every once in a while, I even think about navigating New York, Ontario, London, Charleston, Savannah, Sydney, New Zealand and love with someone who meant everything. 

Those thoughts make me immeasurably grateful for all that I've been able to pack into the last 260 weeks of my life. 

2016 will always be the year I gave up my dream job when the reality of the company was much less than a dream. The year I moved twice, first across the country back to Montana then across the world back to Laos. The year I earned my Master's Degree, explored more of Asia, and returned to London. The year I gave myself an ultimatum regarding love. The year I learned to say 'no' or 'yes' and mean it.

Every year, I sit down to write this essay on SLK. I try to think of a way to write which fully encompasses that particular 365 days. If 2015 was the year of my wildest adventures coming true, I'd say that 2016 was a year of massive decisions. Hard decisions, but the best ones because they were right.  

And it has turned out in a way I didn't expect at all. It has truly surprised me. 2016 has proven once and for all that everything happens for a reason when the timing of your life is right. Everything from visas to relationships.

Exiting this year, I take with me old friendships that are the strongest they've ever been alongside meaningful new ones. I have interviews waiting in the new year. I have two important visas {yeah, I know, two!!} and another degree.  

I was prepared to write more of the same. How this year was another year of passport stamps and figuring life out, but that gets so fucking boring. 2016 had its travels and epiphanies like the previous years, but if I had to sum it up, it has been a year of decisions. 

Decisions that have brought surprises. 

I'm a fan of 2016, the year of true-to-self-decisions, because it reminded me of my resilience. My elasticity. My innate ability to adapt, adjust, and remain flexible.

As I look toward 2017 and all that is planned and set to happen and still up in the air, I cannot wait to fill you lovely people in on it all. I'm a happy, happy girl and I will be sharing everything, as per Tara standard. 

Thank you for reading SLK another year through, dudes. It's been wild and wonderful and sometimes I've wanted to pull all my hair out and other times I've felt swiftly kicked in the ass...but it's a pretty magical life. 

And I'm here to write about all of it.