Everything that could be said about 2016, has been said; for many, having been a year of desolation. In this year’s defense, 2015 was personally impossible to top. And then with a widely grim review of the year that followed, the good times are difficult to remember.
Even so, they’re there. After four indescribable years, 2016 saw me graduate from FIT with honors. I went on to accept a full-time job at SELF Magazine, found a tiny apartment in NYC, reconnected with friends from long ago and made irreplaceable ones along the way. And within the same twelve months, I broke both my own heart and someone else’s, SELF folded within my first six months (my dreams were dashed and scattered as I was laid off), my apartment morphed into a box of loneliness, my bank account shriveled up into a penniless raison, I nearly abandoned my blog, and I lost too many good people to tragedy.
It’s safe to say I’m not who I was yesterday, let alone last year. But as I’ve transitioned into my latest chapter and shed excess skin, I remember certain elements of the person I left behind, and in the new year, they’re the ones I wish to rediscover.
The majority of these resolutions are personal (and some are quite long-winded), but as always, I write hoping they resonate with you, too.
I. REMEMBER: WEEKENDERS ARE CALLED WEEKENDERS FOR A REASON
If there’s a bag — called the weekender — with room enough for a weekend’s worth of belongings (*sigh* topic to be revisited), it must mean the weekend is time enough for worthy travel. I’m not here to convince myself nor anyone else Delaware to Dubai the most practical 2-day rendezvous. But a trip doesn’t have to be grande or overseas to be memorable, or worth it. Anywhere is somewhere.
Resolution by relation: Money doesn’t matter. I and those in my young and broke circle are regrettably short on travel funds. But who says every journey must be by jet? I gave up my car for New York (a sad and sudden parting), but Greyhound has been my right-hand go-to for trips upstate and round-state and back down. Yes, 10-hour round-trips may seem like wasted time but only to those who don’t know how to use it: Time to read, write, edit, sleep and broil within my own head while listening to the same song over and over again — guilt-free — is a gift from the Gods. In any case, should you have your own four-wheeled luxury, all the more thrilling. And comfortable. Also, you can stop for snacks whenever you want.
Aside from getting there, arranging a roof over head is the heaviest burden—especially as an idealist. So I’m vowing to temporarily bury my fascination with 4-star hotel reservations and stay with friends or strangers in the area (plausible risk for homocide, but also could be fun), tent out under summer skies or split an AirB&B with friends. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Google likely lists them.
However, I don’t write from a pedestal. Sometimes even mini, walkable road trips just won’t bite the bill, but my bed has seen enough of me. Homebody-ing is ruining livelihood. I’m getting fucking old, and boring. Besides, I’m lucky enough to live in a city that moonlights as a continent. Here and elsewhere, staycations are very much on the rise, and considerably less stressful than voyaging beyond boarders. There are crevices within every city — especially in New York, ever underrated and waiting to be explored.
This is longer than intended, but if no one else, I needed the lecture. There’s always somewhere to go and something to see; your days off should be time enough to see it, and we should reserve money “we don’t have” for places we haven’t been. We weren’t born to die in the same place.
P.S. Go alone; if you have to and when you need to.
II. OBLITERATE PURSUIT FOR PERFECTION
Life has evaporated before me, as I daydream of the things I “need” to be “better;” a newer camera, an updated wardrobe, a 2in thigh gap before I shoot poolside. Gag me. I’ve already missed everything while waiting to become the absolute best version of myself, and I can’t afford to miss anything else. If tattooing Live In The Now in scripture across my forehead wasn’t so abrasive, it’d be my first appointment of the new year.
III. EAT, SLEEP, AND BREATHE A STRICT SKINCARE REGIMEN
Coconut Oil. Lotion. Rinse. Repeat. Basically—in a nut shell—that’s my most sincere necessitiy of this year and every one here on after. Our skin is the largest, most susceptible organ, and unfortunately, easiest to neglect. My biggest regret is wearing makeup to bed, and then waltzing out of the house the next morning with the same face. (True Life: “Love your makeup!” “Thanks so much, did it 3 days ago.”) Thus, allow this year to be the year of face masks and eye creams — and makeup remover.
Additional Daily-Do’s: Moisturize morning and night, and up H2O intake by at least 32oz.
IV. HAND-WRITE EVERY THANK YOU
I wouldn’t consider myself traditional, necessarily, but I do have a sincere admiration for the nuances of hand-written notes. Investing in quality, blank stationary and black ink is infallible — there is always something to say to someone and having notecards on-hand has allowed me to say it well and in good time.
This is 2017: The mere come up of an all-consuming digital era, and for anyone to take the time to personally pen any word to paper exclusively for the eyes of another is the most genuine gesture alive. People don’t want a text, an email, or a fickle shoutout via social media. Granted these are nice and sometimes necessary to-do’s in bridging snail-mail delays, what people really value is your time — written, sealed, and stamped. I hope to give this year more of that.
P.S. Clearly weirdly into handwritten notecards and will happily write a How-To with tricks of the trade.
V. STOP SCROLLING
Mindlessly. Redundantly. Like a bug-eyed sociopath, scrolling and scrolling into a bright oblivion, my mind rotting within the comment rolls. What is this doing for me—for us as a generation? If I could only retract all of my lost time spent thumbing into a black hole of comparison and, subsequently, self-loathing, I might have actually became the person I aspire to be by now.
VI. TAKE THE FUCKING PHOTO
Conversely, more photo rolls. From the second I owned a camera, I took every picture there was to take, and filmed videos until my battery nearly broke. I could not spare a single fuck, notoriously posting albums of literally the same self-portrait at different angles without shame. Why? Still a matter of research and significant humiliation, but also because I thought to live in a photograph was the most romantic thing in the world. I still do, and there’s an innocence to that creative era of my life — a sweet sense of carelessness — that I’m eager to get back. Take the photos. Share them everywhere.
VII. BUY FRESH FLOWERS SANS REGRET
Any friend of mine has probably already heard me say this verbatim: When I can afford fresh flowers in every room, that’s when I’ll know I’ve made it. Update: I’m football fields away from affording fresh flowers. But I’m going to buy them; white roses and orchids and the palm tree I keep envisioning beside my bedroom door because they’re beautiful and alive and somehow even prettier when dead. There’s no reason I should deny myself tiny luxuries for sake of grocery money when they do not fail to rot in my fridge at the same rate.
VIII. SAY WHAT I MEAN—WHICH MEANS NO
I don’t want to do things I don’t want to do anymore. Half of me regrets not following the statement with “lol”, because I know how it sounds: “Oh, look — another millennial who doesn’t want to do anything but exist as a creative, self-authoritative entity,” but hear me out.
Essentially, when I think back to the reasons I stuck out jobs I dreaded, or overcommitted and took on favors I didn’t have room for, my reasons ultimately boiled down to one thing: Fear. Fear of failure, and regret. Fear of being judged for my decision (lol?) or not fulfilling someone else’s expectations — or more often, those of my own. Even at my most miserable, I always said the same thing to myself: “You’re in too deep, and it’s too late to back out now.”
But it’s never too late. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person, and quitting isn’t synonymous with failing. Our time is precious, and so is our wellbeing. Happiness is truly the highest realm, and I refuse to waste anymore time and effort on things that don’t inspire me.
IX. SCARE MYSELF
At the same token, must spend the year doing more things that scare me. The most glorious days of my life were defined by doing things that terrified me: living on the other side of the world, applying to dream jobs, speaking to strangers—essentially defying all introverted tendencies. In many ways, the things I’m most afraid of are the things I desire most (except sharks, bye), and I’m dying to feel those thrills again.
X. WEAR LESS BLACK
JK—let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
XI. BRUSH UP ON MY SPANISH
Duolingo! Where did you go and why did you stop sending me reminders?
Fortunately, I live with a very generous 65 year-old Peruvian woman who has brought my grade-school-Spanish up to a Can Understand 78% Of What You Just Said, But Can Still Only Respond In Incomplete Sentences/Non-Conjugated Verbs level — in exchange for English and android lessons. Regardless, as I believe every single person should know at least two languages fluently (cough cough, me, myself, and most Americans), I aim to be better on my way.
XII. DO THINGS UNDONE
Fun fact: There’s few things I love more than eating out. However, I’m inherently a creature of habit (i.e. will voluntarily devour a crunchwrap supreme every meal, every day). But in New York City, that’s a sin; there’s an estimated 24,000 restaurants in Manhattan alone — not even including hole-in-the-wall take-outs, corner delis, or café gems. So last year I started venturing into restaurants I’d never been to, putting familiar favorites on the back burner. (Side bar: Still punny in the new year — fear not). Feedback? (Ha!) Finding a trillion new restaurants I can call my favorite. Point: Do more things I’ve never done before. Like…moving to the West coast and throwing out my winter coats.
XIII. DAMN THE DETAILS
I probably have ulcers from obsessing over the immaterial, bringing myself to turmoil over minor details that really no one other than me cares to notices; if I’ve worn a shirt too many times, if my eyeliner on one eye is even .001mm off from the other, if I could’ve substituted “okay” for a better word in an insignificant conversation via text. Details are often the holy grail, but I know the Devil to live in them, too. OCD is tough to kick, but I need to find the balance for sake of sanity.
XIV. SAY HI (UNLIKELY TO LEAD TO DEATH)
I don’t know if it’s nerves or human nature or an unsettling concoction of the two but, now more than ever, I find it crippling to initiate conversation. In both my industry and New York City alone, I’m surrounded by prodigies — people smarter, more successful, more talented and beautiful than I could ever dream of being. Honestly, it’s hard to remember that they’re human. But contrary to popular belief, the fashion industry is not a caste system, nor are the city streets; everyone started somewhere, and “hi” doesn’t hurt. Ultimately, connections are everything — in happiness, in careers, in life. It is not what you know, but who you know that can teach you it.
XV. BE PROUD
And that’s why this year, I need to remind myself what I bring to the table. I know my faults and I know them well, but once upon a time I stopped playing fool to my strengths and realized nobody gave gold stars for modesty. What happened to that? Do what you do and do it well — offer “thank you’s” for compliments and stop excusing them. This whole concept is essentially why it was deliberating to realize what I considered my strengths — conversation, sociability — were muddling themselves into suicides. But in retrospect, it’s because I didn’t think I brought anything to the table; that I didn’t have room to be proud. Not only is that insulting to everyone and everything that made me who I am, it’s insane.
XVI. READ MORE
I once lived in the ivory pages of paperback novels, and died in them, too. It’s hard to remember the exact moment, but I suppose the vicarious lives I lived wrote themselves off around the time I picked up college textbooks — nothing puts a YA novel to bed quite like selling your soul to a university. Now that I’m post-college and more or less lost in life, I figure there’s no better time to find myself in someone else’s story.
XVII. PUBLISH MOST
Finally, write. Even if I think it’s trash, publish. Resuscitate my diary, and preserve all random strings of thought the moment they hit — and do not hesitate to submit to columns and contests. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone doesn’t like it? Cool — I don’t care. There’s a lot things I don’t particularly like, but I infinitely respect anyone who believe in themselves and their creations regardless. Again, I don’t know when exactly I stopped trusting myself, but let 2017 be my revival.
Photos taken at The Met’s Cloister Museum, one of my favorite secrets of New York City
Wearing: all Zara