And it's up to the very last minute, unable to stop and catch my breath. I was hesitant about writing a New Year's review just to add to the barrage of politically charged, sad-but-hopeful, anti-trump-and-brexit 2016 posts on all my feeds. Instead of focusing on all the turmoil, I thought I'd use today to reflect on just how far 2016 has taken me. It's important to put the inner critic aside once in a while simply to remember the sheer amount of stuff that has personally transpired and to celebrate all the good. We can wait until tomorrow to start thinking of how much there’s left to improve upon and let today be a laundry list of positivity, accomplishments, and milestones. Because even with its fair share of catastrophe, 2016 was beautiful in countless ways, in everything from new professional opportunities to the thunderstorms that finally relieved us of the drought.

So, with a pat on my back, this was my year.

2016 was good to me. Perhaps my most shocking revelation was that I organized 54 photoshoots, averaging out to just over one a week. Regardless of if they were planned or spontaneous study breaks, I didn’t realize how productive I had been until I sat down and counted them all. I told 54 stories this year, I got to visit 54 different locations and make art with all the people who inspire me most. Some shoots were close to home with new friends, some on the other side of the world with best friends. 54 stories over 4 seasons took me to a lake at sunrise, bed & breakfast, maple grove, 103-foot cross, flower shop, shipyard, nursery, playground, abandoned mall, waterfall, rooftop, snow-covered cabin, frigid beach, elephant seal mating area, botanical garden, peacock farm, antique shop, garage, tulip field, pizza parlor, and I could go on but I'll spare you. I can’t even imagine how many hours I subsequently spent photoshopping hundreds of final images. 

2016 was also a year of fulfilling increasing obligations. Just last semester, 17 units, 2 jobs, 2 exhibitions, 2 campus clubs, 5 shows at NYFW all fighting for calendar space left me exhausted and overwhelmed, but all the more satisfied at getting through it. With my microbial diversity class, I FINALLY concluded my molecular biology degree—ask me anything about biowaste reactors, anaerobic metabolisms, nutrient recycling through microbial systems. I organized my senior thesis exhibition, presented some work in another, took a crash course in environmental design, researched protein migration in cataract-inflicted mouse lenses and got published twice for it, and began working with a nonprofit advocating for sustainable fashion and human rights. And I turned 21. I guess you can see why I’m so out of breath.

With all that said, I have no idea what to expect of 2017 but I’m predicting a curveball just like the one 2016 threw at me. The goals I’ve finally ticked off my checklist were ones that I had been working towards for years and with graduation nearing, I honestly can’t quite grasp how my life is going to change. I have zero idea how to adult, and the real world requires you do a lot of it. One thing that I am convinced of is that no matter the difficulty, I’ll keep moving forward because that’s the only way to go. I have confidence that 2017 will hit that curveball out of the park, or at least far enough for me to get to first base!