Here we are. 2016.
The end of 2015 has flown by, and here we are, two days into a new year. New Years is a fresh start, as well as one of time's markers reminding us that life and the world are continuing around us whether we are ready for it or not.
This time last year, I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going, or what lay ahead in store for me; I was not ready for the New Year, and that showed a bit during the first few months of 2015. I was floundering. After three different tour offers appeared and disappeared before I could even process them, the end of 2014 quickly appeared, and I had no job, no plans, and no money. In January 2015 I took a job that ended up being the worst job of my life, and quit by February after realizing that no matter how desperate I was, there was no amount of money that could make up for me feeling unhappy and devalued. This job felt like it'd set the tone for my year. I was one month in and already felt derailed, depressed, and so uncertain of my future. If the first month had gone that badly, what else was coming my way? I thought the world had put on a path to keep working in live music, and by the time I quit in February, I felt like I had no idea what the universe expected of me. Could I have a job I enjoyed and still pay my bills? Or was I doomed to give up on my music dreams just six months out of college?
My broke escapades continued, but not for long. I followed my heart by quitting a job I needed financially because I knew it was destroying me personally. I took a big leap, figured out just how long I could survive on my savings, and promised myself that from that point on, I'd focus on what I needed for myself first, and let the rest fall in place. The universe repaid me for that decision with amazing meetings and new friendships from February onwards. I began consulting for a few different bands, met the amazing team at Wide Foc.us and began freelancing for them, and started going to shows again after missing them for a month courtesy of the awful job. By March i'd finagled airline tickets thanks to my points and made it to SXSW, continuing my healing with tacos, sunshine, friends, and sneaking into MSMR photo pits at 2am.
It's funny when you realize that all the right things happen when you're doing the right things for yourself. If push came to shove, I would have worked at McDonalds before I let my roommates get screwed by me not paying my part of the rent, but by choosing to focus on me, I ended up finding people who's friendships were beneficial, and who's connections could help me find jobs that were a better fit for myself instead of having to take the desperate route.
In April I lucked into some great Brand Ambassador gigs, Red Rocks season kicked off, and the sun returned, making it easier to get out and be happy and healthy more consistently. In May I celebrated family, friends, graduations, and summer, and in June I was shocked when a friend offered me the opportunity to begin working for them full-time as a community manager for a digital marketing agency based in New York. I somehow managed to start a new full-time job that would teach me new skills, and keep my job at Red Rocks part-time, letting me feel like I hadn't totally abandoned my team, and could still be working in music a bit.
2015 wasn't all just about job struggles either. My car was totaled due to hail damage, my roommates and I all moved out of our beloved home, and I moved into my own place alone for the first time ever. I had friends in serious accidents, friends move away, I even had some friends pass away. This year has felt the most "life-filled" of any I've ever experienced, and while there were moments of pain and struggle, I celebrate the fact that I sit here in 2016 in a completely different place than I was one year ago.
I haven't loved every experience I've had in the past 365 days, but I've loved the learning. I've learned what it really means to "adult". I've learned how to take the good with the bad, to sacrifice when it really matters. I've learned how to buck up and do what I need to do to pay the bills, and I've learned how to say "enough is enough" and value myself when others won't. I've learned the power of friendships, seen the kindness of random strangers, and felt the joy of coming out on the other side better than I was before. I wouldn't wish my 2015 on anyone, but I hope anyone going through these same struggles can push forward to find the silver lining the same way I have.
Despite the craziness, 2015 led to some incredible moments for me: experiencing new bands I've come to love, celebrating old ones I've loved forever. My best friend asked me to be her Maid Of Honor, my cousin got married, my Grandma turned 94 in August despite breaking her femur in April, and my family welcomed a total of four new babies into the world. I worked another year of Riot Fest, I saw my two favorite bands play in two different states during one weekend, started dating again after a two year hiatus, threw Nerd Proms and hippie band reunions and *finally* got a new record player. My family took our first vacation since...forever(?), and after nearly a decade, I finally have a relationship - a good one - with my middle brother. I've made new friends, caught up with old friends, learned how to live alone, and more than anything, I learned how to live again after spending the first half of this year so afraid of failing that I became afraid of living.
I know this won't be my last bought of struggles and change, but i'm pretty okay with that. Life lessons are inevitable, but it's up to us to grab those moments by the horns and choose to learn from them rather than run from them. In 2016 I'm going to Australia for nearly a month, and at some point, I'll be moving to Los Angeles so I can finally stop wondering "what if?" and give my dreams of working in music the full chance they deserve. None of this will come without it's share of issues, but I'm ready and excited to see where they lead me. So bring it on, 2016, I'm as ready for you as I'll ever be.