At the end of every year, I love to reflect. I spend a lot of time with family and friends, but I also spend a lot of time alone.
My blog posts and work always gets put to the side (sorry guys, the posts will go back to three a week next week) and I focus on things that are very personal to me.
This blog post is an example of that. It’s a personal reflection, but hopefully, it also helps you in some way too.
I often use New Year’s Eve as a reference for how much my life has changed throughout the years. It’s a day that’s easy to remember and, although it’s arguably just another day, it’s symbolic in some ways too.
Now, reflection can have a lot of benefits. It can help you heal, help you realize why you have certain habits, and help you see how you can improve as a person.
And if you improve as a person, you improve as a traveler. Plain and simple.
My New Years resolutions always have to do with improving myself as a person (and I’m really great at sticking to them, too!).
If you’re not sure where to start with your reflection, I recommend checking out this list of great questions to get started.
I’m going to share my New Year’s Eve over the past four years with you.
This post is just as much for me as it is for you. So it’s 100% honest. I’d love to hear about your experiences too! Let’s grow together.
Okay, so let’s get to it.
New Year’s Eve 2014
One of my two best friends was living in Boston at the time and having a party at her apartment so I, along with my other best friend, drove down from New Hampshire to spend the night.
We got drunk on the T, ate some kick-ass Mexican food, and spent the night with a small group of people drinking, laughing, and reminiscing.
I remember that I was so happy during that time because, as a Junior in college, I really didn’t have that many responsibilities or worries yet. I was also taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Not that I’m unhappy now, but I always look back on that time as when I was the happiest with myself.
I’ve often used it as a marker for how happy I should be, which I’ve realized isn’t a great idea.
There was also a big change happening in my life and I knew it. I was about to end a two-year relationship (which I hadn’t told anyone I was doing yet) and move to a different country.
I was finally starting to realize what I wanted out of life.
In my relationship, I had been an amazing girlfriend and friend, but I had lost myself in the process. It was around the end of the year when I began to notice that I could never live my own dreams and be in this relationship at the same time. I would need to support his dreams and leave my own behind.
Thankfully, I made the right choice.
I like to refer to this New Year’s Eve as being the beginning of a major change, sort of like an awakening. It’s the point where I really started to identify as my own person and make independent decisions (which led to having an amazing time in Chile and doing what made me happy).
My New Years resolutions were to think for myself more and to experience Chile with all of my heart.
New Year’s Eve 2015
This was the best New Year’s Eve out of the four and I constantly look back on it when I need to reevaluate what’s really important in my life.
I was a senior in college and everyone went back to school to party for New Year’s Eve. The bars were having a $25 open bar and it was just a really great atmosphere overall.
I managed to snag a much-desired ticket to this $25 open bar, but when my best friend called me and said she had nothing to do, I decided not to go. I told her to drive up and we’d figure something out.
A lot of my friends during my Senior year were exchange students from Brazil, so we ended up going to their dorm, getting insanely drunk, laughing until we cried, and sharing stories.
I was with my best friend, with the guy I was falling in love with (who is still a very important person in my life), and with the people who helped me get through my Senior year. The ones who were there with me through the good and the bad.
It was this year that I realized who was really important in my life. It didn’t matter where I was or what we were doing, it only mattered who was with me each step of the way.
I also realized how blessed I am to have so much love in my life and to have the privilege to live the life that I do.
My New Years resolutions were to live my life with love and fully appreciate the people around me. The next year I fell in love even more, I traveled places with full compassion for the culture, and I began to love myself again.
New Year’s Eve 2016
Contrary to 2015, New Year’s Eve 2016 was the worst of the four. While most of my year was filled with love, personal improvement, and a life-changing move to Colombia, that was all quickly destroyed in October when my heart was broken.
Cliché, I know. But heartbreak is real.
I had had my heart broken before, but it was something I always knew I would get over. I was always able to accept that it just wasn’t meant to be. With this one, that wasn’t the case.
I never accepted the fact that we never worked out. In fact, I never accepted that I was hurt at all. I just tried to push it out of the way because it was too painful to deal with.
*Side note: If you ignore something, it will definitely come back to haunt you later.
I would go out with other people and drink past my limits just to try and forget. Being alone in my room was my worst nightmare and I missed out on a lot of things because I’d spend Sundays in my room hungover.
I realized how destructive I was being when I went on a solo trip in December. I was seriously in need of some Vitamin D after living in Bogotá, so I hopped on a plane and spent a week exploring Santa Marta.
I really didn’t want to be around people, so I spent most of the time entertaining myself and just enjoying the freedom that solo travel allows.
After surprising my family and spending a week in the United States, I headed to Cartagena for New Year’s Eve, where I was joined (unwillingly) by a guy I was casually dating in Bogotá.
After my time alone in Santa Marta, I realized I had no feelings for this guy at all and was just trying to fill up the loneliness I had inside. For the two days I was there, I was irritated by his attention, had a pulling urge to just leave, and realized more and more that my life wasn’t how I wanted it to be.
I spent my New Year’s Eve carrying him back to the house drunk as he was falling over and constantly trying to walk into traffic. I wished that I was anywhere but there and wondered how my life had changed so drastically.
How had I let it get to this point? How had I hated myself so much that I was living my life so destructively?
After a final goodbye, I never talked to that guy again. I moved from Bogotá to Cali and used it as a chance to start fresh.
That New Year’s Eve I learned that ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away and that you can’t let your happiness depend on other people.
My New Years resolutions were to live the next year for myself and to treat myself better.
And guess what? It’s worked out great!
New Year’s Eve 2017
While it’s not New Year’s Eve yet, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect this December.
I started the month off in Panama City, traveled to South Carolina to see my parents, traveled home to New Hampshire to spend time with my brother, spent another night in Panama City, then headed back to Colombia.
The past few days have been especially eye-opening to me for a lot of reasons.
I’ve made a vow to be more honest. Not only with the people around me, but myself too. I thought about everything that’s been bothering me over the past year and it sucked.
But then it felt much better to get everything off my chest.
I’ve also made a promise to get more in touch with myself spiritually. I’m not religious at all, but I do believe there’s something more and I want to learn as much as I can (by dedicating myself more to yoga for example).
I can feel that a lot of big changes are coming up in my life and, while I’m not quite sure what they are yet, I know I’m ready.
So what did I learn this year?
I learned that it’s okay to take a different path in life and that it’s okay to take risks. Really, nobody has any idea what the hell they’re doing.
I learned that I have to be kind to myself. Everyone makes mistakes and the important thing is to try and learn from them.
I learned that love comes in a lot of different forms and it’s not all black and white. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you need to be with them. And it’s possible to love more than one person at a time.
I learned that humans are contradictory. Every good person has a dark side somewhere (even Mother Theresa) and every mean person has some good. It’s all about how we confront the negative parts of ourselves. Also, one day you can be passionate about travel and the next day you can just want to settle down.
And that’s okay.
My New Years resolutions going into the next year are to take better care of myself, be honest with everyone and myself, and to read and learn as much as I can about the world we live in.
I also want to travel and throw myself into the culture as much as possible.
I want to travel without expectations just to see where it takes me.
What are your New Years resolutions for the upcoming year?