Making lists is one of my favorite things to do – and if you’ve been following along, you’ve probably noticed that since almost every single blog I post is in the form of one. Every year, I have a tradition of making a list of everything that happened to me – good or bad – that year. Usually I’m surprised by it – it’s funny how you can totally downplay the awesome things in your life and be completely convinced that you’ve had a miserable year, but then you look at it all on paper and realize, “hey, this year was actually pretty good.”
However, even after making this year’s list, I can confidently tell you 2011 was one of my least favorite years of all time.
I’ll level with you – it had some pretty stiff competition. For example, 1990 was spent sleeping, eating, and being carried around anytime I needed to go from one place to another – how do you top that? And don’t even get me started on 1994. I spent all my time watching Disney movies and playing with Barbies and pretending I was the Little Mermaid. How can working a job, going to school, and having grown up responsibilities even compare?
But despite the fact that I spent more of 2011 complaining, crying, and being unhappy than I have in previous years, it’s actually been the year that’s taught me the most about myself and about the world, and that might actually be more valuable than all the moments of happiness in my best years put together.
And so you can benefit from them too, here’s what I learned this year:
Every single action you take comes with a consequence – some bigger than others. It seems like a really simple concept: you do something, and it causes something else to happen, good or bad. This happened to me in a big, explosive way this year. At the end of 2010, I got into a car accident. This is something I’m known for. My mom likes to call me Crash. She would say this is an affectionate nickname. I would not.
Anyway, so Nicole gets in a car accident – one that she still swears was not her fault – and it was a headache, as all car accidents are. As a result, all the money she saved for new tires and a trip to California went to her $500 deductible to get her car fixed and her $300 ticket for failing to yield (I yielded. Trust me), and then she was broke and she STILL had to save another $400 to get new tires. So the trip gets canceled, resulting in a fight with her best friend that lasted over six months, and then, MONTHS later, she gets sued. Three times. By every person in the car.
Which is silly and not the point, but seriously. Be careful, guys. What you do matters. Every step you take, every choice you make, will affect your life in some way or another. And sometimes you won’t realize what reaction you’ve caused until it’s too late to go back and make things better.
Award shows are just as awesome as they look on TV. Thanks to my wonderful BFF Ansley, the trip to California still happened. I got to spend a few days with a few of my close friends, like Hannah and Shelby, go to Disneyland, which was a big deal for me, and see Steve Carell’s house, which was also a big deal for me because I’d really like to become his live in nanny someday.
But best of all, Ansley and I had the opportunity t0 attend the red carpet at the Grammys. If you know me, or even if you just read this blog, you know how much I love celebrities. And how much I love award shows. You really are aware of that last one if you follow me on Twitter during award shows and receive my commentary every time someone breathes. Seeing Lea Michele in person brought tears of joy to my eyes. And since I was already over excited, the tears returned at the sight of Kim and Rob Kardashian (don’t judge me). Being at the Grammys was a major bucket list item for me, and I hope I get to do it again sometime. If you ever have the opportunity to go to an event like this, TAKE IT. You will not regret it.
Things can’t always go back to the way they were, but they can get better. Remember that fight I mentioned earlier that happened as a result of my car accident? It was probably the biggest, messiest, worst, most vicious fight with a friend I have ever had. The friend and I were inseparable and literally went from being up each other’s butts and talking constantly and seeing each other almost every day to not even speaking. Quitting a friendship cold turkey like that comes with a nasty withdrawal. Every tweet either of us posted was pointed and passive aggressive toward the other one, and it just wasn’t pretty. We tried putting things back together again after a heart to heart because we missed each other, but it wasn’t the right time for it and things got progressively worse.
I finally told him to never speak to me again… to which he replied, “I don’t think that’s what you want,” and gave me a week of space before trying to talk to me again. He is the only person who has ever responded to me like that during a fight. A lot of people walk in and out of my life, but that was one of the only times anyone actually fought to stay in. I think how people behave when you’re not getting along with them says a lot about their character, and the way he was actually interested in taking responsibility for the things he’d done and making them better told me it was worth it to work on the friendship rather than just saying “screw it” and moving on.
After a lot of long conversations and a series of bumps in the road, our friendship is more solid than ever. I don’t think we could have gotten to this point without that awful fight. So if you’re dealing with a friendship or a relationship that is painful to you because it seems like it might never be the same way it once was, remember that’s not always a bad thing.
You haven’t lived ’til you’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy. After my trip to California, I was faced with months ahead of school and work and miserable daily life, this time without my best friend to make things bearable, and no money to eat or shop away my problems (always the best solution to whatever you’re going through, for future reference). As I usually do in a crisis, I turned to Netflix to find solace and it did NOT let me down. At my mother’s insistence, I started season one of Grey’s Anatomy and I was immediately hooked. I flew through all six seasons plus all the aired episodes of the current season (roughly 150 hours of television) in just under six weeks, when I was also attending school full time and working 30 hours a week. This must set a record in some record book somewhere.
Needless to say, those doctors became my friends when I didn’t have any, and they even provided the service of making me less squeamish when looking at blood because they’re opening somebody up like eight times an episode. Valuable stuff. Also, McSteamy.
You also haven’t lived ’til you’ve used a Keurig. Thanks to my wonderful pal Haley, this year I welcomed a beautiful, shiny single serve coffee maker into my life and I’ve never been happier. There is no joy in this world comparable to the joy you feel when that magnificent device kicks on and releases a steamy, delicious stream of coffee right into your cup. Seriously. Mr. Keurig, or whoever it was who is responsible for this magical feat of engineering and appliancetry (a word I just made up) should be awarded with some sort of cash prize in addition to a super big, super gaudy trophy. How did I live life before I had a Keurig? The answer is I don’t remember, because the new, happy memories I’ve already made with this little beauty have replaced any memory of past coffee I may have consumed in my heart and in my mind.
It is possible to have a wonderful birthday. In the past few years, I haven’t had really exciting or memorable birthdays, which are a bummer, because I really appreciate the fact that there exists a day that is in celebration of the wonder that is me. On my eighteenth birthday, I blew off school because it made me so miserable and stayed home watching my Gilmore Girls DVDs alone before having a low key dinner out with my only two friends. When I turned nineteen, only one person showed up to go out for Japanese. Twenty was spent dying my hair blonde in my bathroom with Ansley, which ended up being a really bad decision, and twenty-one was celebrated at Ludacris’ restaurant in Atlanta and not being able to have my celebratory first drink because I was the first of my friends to turn legal drinking age.
But twenty-two? Twenty-two was fantastic. One of my absolute favorite people in the world, Jacie, drove down from North Carolina for a few days and I spent the Saturday before my birthday with my friends shopping, eating at Cheesecake Factory, and seeing Something Borrowed, which turned out to be one of my favorite movies of all time. And THEN, my actual birthday was spent going to the Gone With the Wind museum in Marietta and browsing in antique stores with Jacie. It was absolutely wonderful. So maybe I’m not cursed after all.
Spoiler alert: I will be in New York for my twenty-third, and it is going to be AWESOME.
Best friends might really exist. 2011 has been a hard year for friendships. After that previously mentioned fight, I also lost two of my best friends in the world. Suddenly, people who I imagined being friends with for the rest of my life had been wiped off my map completely – and neither of them put up any semblance of a fight. It was pretty difficult to get through. I have every reason in the world to believe that the idea of a best friend is imaginary, and because of everything that’s happened this year, now I refuse to call anyone my best friend because I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe the expectations that come with that title tend to be what makes the friendship implode.
Despite this, the people I’m closest to continue to prove to me over and over again that true friendship is real. I have some of the best people in the world in my life, and I am so lucky. I have people in my life who drive for hours and get on planes to see me. I have people in my life who have given so unselfishly their time and money to make sure that I didn’t miss out on anything I wanted to do this year while I was saving up for school. When I needed help with coming up with the money for New York, my friends managed to put together over $200 to contribute to my tuition. That might not sound like much to you, but to me, it meant everything. If I seem sad, bummed out, or discouraged, people sent all kinds of cards, letters, and surprises to me from all over the country to cheer me up. I will never forget who was responsible for getting me through this difficult year in one piece.
Taylor Swift can – and will – make everything better. By the time October rolled around, I was in a pretty bad place. I hadn’t been able to go to New York in the fall like I’d planned and had had to get a second job to be able to come up with the money to make sure I’d make it there in the spring. Working sixty hour weeks was difficult, and I felt so tired and so alone all the time. But then Taylor Swift came to Atlanta, and two nights in a row at her concerts gave me the boost I needed to keep plugging along toward the finish line.
A couple of weeks later, Ansley and I made the trip to Nashville to sleep outside on the sidewalk (once again) for passes to meet Taylor for the third time and she didn’t disappoint us. As soon as I walked up to her, she gave me a hug and said, “look at how beautiful you are!” while pulling on one of my curls. Taylor remembered Ansley and I, and so did her mom, and seeing Taylor living her dream in all her glory reminded me that would be me soon and that all the tears, all the hard work, all the sacrifices and bad days would be worth it.
I am aware I sound crazy for constantly talking about how much I love Taylor Swift, but next time she’s near you, GO. Even if you’re not a fan, you will become one. The girl is made of magic and fairy dust and she will make you believe anything can happen. I’m not kidding. This is 100% the truth. Just go see her perform. Just do it.
Concerts are fun, but there are better ways to spend your money. This year I went to five concerts – He Is We, All Time Low, two Taylor Swift shows, and Demi Lovato. This might sound like a lot to the average person, but for me, this year was the least amount of concerts I have been to since I was maybe fifteen or sixteen. There have been some years where I’ve seen twenty or thirty different bands and musicians play, and some summers that I attended five or more concerts every month. I have seen literally hundreds of artists perform. Live music is and always will be a big part of my life, but a big part of growing up for me has been realizing that I don’t HAVE to see every single concert that passes through my city. I can miss some of them and the world won’t end.
There’s nothing quite like the vacation from real life a concert provides you with, but it’s even more special when you go to them less often. And I’m sorry to sound like such an old tightwad when I say this, but do you realize how much money you’re spending when you go to a concert that doesn’t even involve the ticket? $20 or more for a ticket – and, when Ticketmaster fees are concerned, that’s the price for seeing a relatively unknown band – plus $10+ in gas plus $10-20 in parking plus I bet you’re going to want a meal at some point and sometimes, you’re going to want a t-shirt or something. Add that all up, and you can easily spend $100 in one night without even realizing it. I’m not up for that anymore. I have more important ways to spend my time and my money.
I will always love live music. There will be artists who I know I will never miss when they come to my area. But I’m a grown up girl now, and I have a lot of important grown up girl things to do. And thank god I’m not imparting this advice to you in a video, because the Hello Kitty cardigan I’m wearing might take away from that last part a little.
Anything is possible. Anything. I mean it. You can do anything, be anything, as long as you are willing to work hard and never give up. When 2012 starts, I will be off to New York City to finish school and intern at Seventeen – and both of these are massive, major, huge, lifelong dreams of mine that are coming true. There were a lot of obstacles in my way. There still are. My fight isn’t over. I will have to continue fighting and pushing and working for what I want once I’m in New York for years. Maybe the fight will never end. But it’s SO worth it.
Never, ever let anyone tell you that something is impossible for you to achieve or do or be or get. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. Don’t doubt yourself. You can have anything in this world that you want as long as you are willing to reach out and grab it.
Have a good 2012, everyone. :) See ya next year!