2016 has had ups and downs, but I have had a great year overall. In the gallery above, I have highlighted some of my greatest moments of 2016. I want to make 2017 even better, so I am taking the time to reflect on this past year, the experiences I had, and some of the lessons I learned along the way. Read on to discover 10 things I learned in 2016.

1. The keys to success in college are planning and staying organized.

This year was extremely, and I mean extremely busy for me. In the past academic year, I took 40 credit hours (16 in the Spring, 12 in the Summer, 12 in the Fall), completed a public relations internship, maintained a long distance relationship, and flew all the way across the world to study in Australia as a part of my university’s communications exchange program. Needless to say, I have had my hands full.

How did I manage such a busy lifestyle? By planning and staying organized. I started using both a physical planner and the calendar on my phone to keep track of deadlines, appointments, etc. I wrote down all the courses I still need to take to graduate and created a rough schedule of what I will take in each future semester. Additionally, I planned out activities for each semester (internships, research opportunities, etc.). Although my agenda could completely change in coming semesters, I like writing out a plan so I have goals to work toward.

Staying organized and planning for the future gives me a sense of purpose. If I didn’t have a plan, I wouldn’t have nearly as much motivation. This year, I have really focused on planning my future, which has helped me to be much more successful in my academic and professional endeavors.

I plan on writing a separate post on how I keep my college life organized, so stay tuned!

2. Being great at what you do requires you to step out of your comfort zone.

I can think of several things I have done this year that were completely out of my comfort zone. I traveled internationally. I kayaked for the first time. I started this blog, which I am still really nervous about— sharing your writing on the internet is a daunting task, especially when you are writing about your own life. Failure is my worst fear, and there is still a part of me that is afraid that no one will like my blog or care about what I have to say. But at the same time, I understand that if I am ever going to be a great writer, I have to take risks. And if I fail, I will just learn from my mistakes and try to do better next time. This year, I have really worked on facing my fear of failure and getting out of my comfort zone.

3. I do not like sushi.

I tried sushi for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I did not like it at all.

I ordered the shrimp tempura roll because I normally love shrimp. I had a difficult time eating it in the first place because I apparently do not know how to use chopsticks correctly. (I’m so cultured, I know.) I tried so hard to like it, but I couldn’t eat more than a few bites. My friend told me that I made a number of “interesting” faces while eating my shrimp tempura roll.

No disrespect at all to Asian culture. Sushi is just not my thing.

4. I am not meant to be an art major.

Before I went to college, I was determined to be a graphic designer. I took college art courses in high school for dual enrollment (meaning I received both high school and college credit for the classes), and I really enjoyed them.

However, when I went to college, I continued to take more studio art and graphic design courses, and I began to lose motivation. I looked at the people around me, who were putting their blood, sweat, and tears into their artwork, and I realized that I was not passionate about design. To succeed as a graphic artist, I learned that I would have to live and breathe the art, spend sleepless nights working on my portfolio, and completely fall in love with design. After the Spring semester of this year, I knew that I was not ready to make such a serious commitment to an art that I was not passionate about.

Don’t get me wrong, I do still enjoy many different forms of art, including design, photography, and drawing, but I can’t see myself turning my art into a career. Photography and design skills are definitely good for a professional in my field to have, though. I will continue to enjoy art as a hobby and apply it to my work when needed.

5. Writing is my calling.

Like art, writing is an activity I have enjoyed from a very young age. However, over the years, I have found that I am much more passionate about writing than I am about art; when I was 13, I wrote a 60,000 word novel as a part of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I wrote mostly fiction along with some poetry in my childhood and adolescence. After exploring different mediums, I moved away from fiction and started writing more nonfiction works and articles. But even as my writing style matured, my passion for words did not die.

Now, I am double majoring in Advertising- Public Relations (the two are combined into one degree at my university) and Writing and Rhetoric. I am considering going into either communications research or public relations writing as a career. No matter which direction I choose to go in, writing will be an important part of my life.

6. I love working.

In the Summer of this year, I completed my first internship with a digital marketing agency. I did mostly copywriting work for the agency, including blog and social media posts. I learned so much and also had a lot of fun. (Work doesn’t have to be boring, guys.) Gaining real world experience and contributing to actual client work was so amazing for me. My internship this year confirmed that I can enjoy a future career in the PR industry. I love staying busy, and having an internship or job is the perfect way for me to gain valuable experience and further my career.

7. Australia is a beautiful country.

Honestly, pictures do not do it justice. You have to see Australia in person to understand how breathtakingly beautiful it is. I could go on and on about it here, but I actually have separate posts on my Australia adventures. Here are the links:

Visiting Australia: Experiencing The Great Barrier Reef

Visiting Australia: Exploring The Great Ocean Road

8. I am terrible at ice skating.

I went ice skating yesterday. Let’s just say I was clinging to the wall of the rink the entire time because I’m not coordinated enough to balance myself on skates. Fortunately, I live in Florida, and we don’t have much ice down here.

9. I have some of the greatest friends and family a girl could ask for.

I have always been thankful for my friends and family, but this year I have been more appreciative than ever to have such an amazing support system. They laugh with me, they cry with me, and they cheer me on. I would not be half of the person I am today without the guidance and love my family has provided for me. And I have friends so close that they seem like family. When I start to feel alone, my friends remind me that I’m not. This year, I have a circle of positive people surrounding me, supporting me, and loving me. I could not be more thankful.

10. I am worth it.

For the longest time, I wasn’t happy because I didn’t love myself. But now, at the end of this wonderful year, I love who I am, I love what I do, and I know I am worth it. Even though I went through some tough times in 2016, I came out on top, and now I can wake up every day with a smile on my face.

If you are feeling down or going through a rough patch in your life, please remember this: it gets better. You may not believe it now, but keep getting out of bed every day, keep working, keep fighting, and keep loving. You will find happiness one day as long as you don’t give up.

What did you learn this year?

That’s enough about me— I want to hear about your 2016 now. What did you learn? Let me know in the comments below.

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