2016 was a huge year for me. It was that kind of milestone year that always seems to be associated with being in your twenties. At 23, I was beginning to think it might never happen, but it did. I can honestly say I felt more adult in this past year than I ever have in my whole life.

Naturally, there’s been plenty of lows and not all the milestones have been celebratory, but that’s all part of life. For this post, I’ve decided to focus on the highlights of my 2016. When I look back on this, I want the good to outshine the ugly, and I want to relive all of the great things that took place this year.

First, I need to provide a bit of background information. When the year began, I was working full time at a local health food store. It was the first job I could find after graduating university. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good job in some ways; it was in a field I cared about, my coworkers were awesome, it kept me super active all day long, but it wasn’t the type of job I wanted long term. I had just spent four years and forty thousand dollars to get a degree, all to help people choose the best laxative tea. Not to mention, I wasn’t making enough money to put a dent in my student loans or even think about moving out.

I decided to start job hunting, hard. I had never actually stopped sifting through job postings since getting my job, but I knew I needed to take it to the next level. Applying for jobs turned into a part-time job in itself. I spent all my free time searching and applying, writing dozens upon dozens of cover letters, trying to find the perfect fit.

Finally, after a couple of dead-end interviews, I landed one that just felt right. It was with a company I’d admired for years in the natural food industry, and I knew that I was both qualified and ready for the added responsibility. After having my interview, I felt confident that I’d finally found the place for me.

Then came silence. While this was better than a rejection, I was beginning to feel very defeated. It was around this time that Corey and I decided to book a vacation. It gave me something concrete to look forward to and something to focus on other than my failed career hunt. It also gave me a renewed sense of energy in the wake of another rejection.

Then something awesome happened. A week before I was scheduled to leave for my trip, I found out that I got the job! My new boss congratulated me, sent me my contract, and told me I’d start one week from the time I got back from my trip. It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and replaced with pure joy. I quit my job, said my goodbyes, and started to prepare for my next chapter. Just like that.

So that brings me to my first real highlight of 2016, which was my vacation to the Dominican Republic. I’m sure this would have been a great vacation no matter what, but with all that had just transpired, it meant so much more. It became the symbol of my transition from my old job to my new one. It’s still crazy to me how perfectly the timing of everything worked out. Who plans a week at a beautiful resort that just happens to fall right in between quitting a job and starting a new one? 

The week itself was amazing. Corey and I spent our days lounging in the sun, playing in the ocean waves, and eating more food than I thought could physically fit in my stomach. Better than that, we had such quality time to just talk about the future. We talked about all the things that this new job might lead to, and what our next steps might be. As it turns out, fantasizing about the future is even better lounging in a pool with a drink in hand at 10am.

 

No big surprise, my next highlight of 2016 was starting my new job. Right off the bat, this job checked off so many boxes for me. It’s an office job, I have my own space with my own desk, it’s Monday-Friday, 8-4, downtown, with benefits and paid vacation. It didn’t hurt that it paid more than double what I was making before, but that’s beside the point.

All perks aside, there was two real reasons why this job meant to the world to me. First, I knew right away that this wasn’t just another job, it could be a career. For so many years I’d wanted a real career where I could grow and develop. I wanted to be more than an employee ID number. I wanted to know that all my day to day tasks were contributing to something bigger. 7 months later, I can say that I was correct. I love that there’s so much potential not just in my role but in the industry as a whole.

That leads to the second reason this job meant so much to me: the industry. Beyond the natural/organic industry which I was already a part of, all of our products are 100% fair trade. Don’t worry – I have no plans of preaching the significance of buying organic or fair trade. All I really want to say about this is that it makes a huge difference to work in a field you care about. Everyone I work with is so dedicated to the cause. We have close relationships with our producer farmers and get to hear first-hand what fair trade means to them and how it’s impacted their communities. It’s so great to go to work every day, enjoy what I’m doing, and care about why I’m doing it.

The next highlight of my year was a huge one: moving out. My living situation was very weird before. I won’t go into detail, but essentially Corey and I lived together in two different places, neither of which were ours. So, it wasn’t our first time living together, but it was our first time having a place of our own. 

The whole thing happened kind of quickly. I knew that as soon as I landed a good job with a comfortable salary, I’d start apartment hunting. We could have technically got an apartment before then, but we wanted to take advantage of the savings for a while and then wait until we’d be comfortable, rather than just scraping by.

Having our own apartment has turned into one of the highlights of my life thus far. For me, alone time and privacy are key, and those are hard to come by living under someone else’s roof. I absolutely love being responsible for this apartment. I love cleaning it. I love decorating it. I love coming home to the same place every day and knowing that it’s ours. Granted, we are renting it but it’s still the strongest sense of ownership I’ve ever had over a living space.

 

 

The next highlight of my 2016 was the finishing touch to our new apartment, getting a kitten! I’ve had cats my entire life and after we moved in I immediately noticed how weird it felt not to have one. I couldn’t even get through our first month in the apartment without adopting a little furry friend for our new home.


Now, our tabby Peaches is the queen of the castle and I honestly couldn’t imagine our lives without her. I get excited every day when I get to come home to her, knowing she’ll be waiting to greet me at the door.

 

The next highlight of my 2016 year is kind of a funny one – but it was a long time coming, and that’s getting laser eye surgery. As you can tell from these photos, I wasn’t thrilled about the procedure itself, but it has been absolutely life changing and I would do it again in a heartbeat (fingers crossed that I never to have to!).

I had been wearing contact lenses all day every day since middle school. I think I could write a book on what a nightmare that was. I always found them to limiting and something I always had to think about and make plans around. When my prescription worsened, I decided it was time to put an end to my contact lens slavery and commit to a permanent solution.

 

The surgery was awful and I really underestimated that part to be honest. It wasn’t painful per se, but the discomfort was really difficult for me, especially in the first few days afterward. I also had blood stained eyes for about three full months afterward, with the blood changing location depending on the day. Side note: I appeared in a fair trade documentary during this time, bloody eyes and all. I’ve yet to watch it to see if they cut my interviews out…

Now that I’ve long since healed, I am so grateful to that amazing technology and so glad I decided to go through with the surgery. My awful vision became better than 20/20 all from a procedure that lasted about 10 minutes total. Now I wake up in the morning and can see everything right away. I can stay out as late as I want because my eyes never dry out. I don’t have to worry about packing my contact supplies anytime I go anywhere. It’s given me this sense of freedom that probably sounds minimal but has been life-changing for me.

Not too long after my laser eye surgery, Corey and I celebrated our 6TH ANNIVERSARY together. It’s mind blowing to me that we’ve been together 6 years. We started dating when I was still in high school and he was in his third year of university. To think of how far we’ve come since then almost feels surreal.

This anniversary was pretty chill. We aren’t ones to go over the top with anything. It’s enough to spend the whole day together and just enjoy each other’s company. We both took the day off work to be together and hang out. This was actually the only picture we took that day, on the way to breakfast if I’m not mistaken. I think in years to come we need to get better at taking pictures together for memory’s sake.

Anyways, all to say, I love this man and celebrating six years together definitely made the 2016 highlight reel!

My final highlight of 2016 was Christmas. If I’m honest, this Christmas wasn’t special for any particular reason other than it being our first one in our new apartment, with my better salary, clear vision, and a new cat. I just love Christmas so much that it would probably make the highlight list of any year.

As someone who is such a homebody and generally thrives on routine, the chaos of Christmas is a big deal for me. Really, I just love the season and all the quality time spent with loved ones where no one is on their phones or preoccupied with other things. This Christmas I was fortunate enough to have five consecutive days off, which I hadn’t had since university. It was a lovely time, complete with 5 separate Christmas celebrations (thanks, Divorce). I was happy to get back to my routine once it was over, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I would love to know what your 2016 highlights were! Feel free to share them in the comments.

Happy 2017 to everyone!

Lou

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