Along with a new year comes a good time to look back on the accomplishments, choices, and adventures that made 2017 memorable — then turn them into goals we can strive for going forward.
"Earlier this year, I ordered a second margarita at a lunch outing for a coworker's last day — totally forgetting how strong this restaurant's margs are. Back at my desk, I tried to do some work for a few minutes before whispering, "Go home, Tameans, you're drunk"...to myself. But because I couldn't go home (it was...2 p.m.) I ended up wandering over to the puzzle table my coworkers had set up a few weeks earlier...where I quickly discovered I love doing puzzles. A few weeks later, I bought my first puzzle, and have been a convert ever since.
When I’m working on a puzzle, I feel both very big and very small. It’s difficult not to find pleasure in the act of turning a disorganized pile of fragments into something beautiful and orderly. It’s even better when this doesn’t require any dirt, manual labor, talent, or skill. While I’d be lying if I said that I don’t Snapchat my progress on occasion, I typically shut my laptop and put my phone in Do Not Disturb mode in another room when I’m working on a puzzle. Instead of splitting my attention between tabs and apps, I am building a tiny universe. Lately, I’ve been combining puzzling and podcasts. It’s one of the only ways I can get myself to actually listen to podcasts while I’m at home, and something about the pairing feels delightfully old-fashioned — like, Gee-whiz, all it takes to keep me entertained is a jigsaw puzzle and the radio! But I often don’t even need that; I can work on a puzzle in total silence for hours. Doing puzzles makes me feel like I am healing the parts of my brain that the internet has rotted. Even on days when I don’t make much visible progress, I, at least, always feel a little more whole when I’m done with a session. See a list of great puzzles to try here."
Read more about the joy of puzzles here.
— Rachel W. Miller, Senior Editor
I've literally been writing creatively since I was seven years old and somehow never took a creative writing class. There was always something "more important" that I felt I had to do. Strangely enough, I have way more time (and way fewer hangovers) than I did during college so I finally did it. I signed up for a ten-week fiction writing course and by the end I was kicking myself for not having done it sooner. To work on something that wasn't required, wasn't a grade, or wouldn't have any effect on my career path required a whole different kind of willpower and was so much more rewarding. I always thought it wasn't necessary because I was writing on my own but the structure of having to show up every week, write something new almost daily, and improve on it was challenging in the best way. Looking back on my old writing makes me cringe in retrospect because I improved so much in just 10 classes. I loved it so much that I'm taking another one this year. I'm so excited to get back into that headspace of working hard on something that I want to do for me.
—Emily Shwake, Junior Staff Writer
"I was offered my first full-time media job when I was 19 and in my second year of university. I moved cities, studied by distance at night and on the weekends, and got a head start on my career, while most of my friends were still living at home or on campus. While I knew I'd never regret my decision to fast-forward into adulthood, I promised myself that one day, I would give myself a break and reclaim those lost years. I started saving money and making plans to take six months off work about two years ago, and earlier this year, I did it.
For most of this year I lived on the road with my boyfriend, visiting five different countries over our six months. I did some travel writing along the way but for the most part, I just gave myself permission to let go. For a lot of Australians who are privileged enough to travel, this kind of trip happens during a "gap year" (aka the year between school and university). I went straight from school, to uni, to work, and I'm happy I did this in my late-20s because it meant I had enough experience to land myself another incredible job once my six months of travel was over. I totally understand that this kind of trip isn't something everyone could do — or would even want to — but if anything, I want to encourage people to do the things they know they'll regret, even if it takes years of planning."
— Gyan Yankovich, Senior Lifestyle Writer
"Buying flowers every couple weeks made 2017 a little sweeter for me. While it didn’t exactly define my entire year, I found that it brought me so much joy in the long run. Every day after work, I walk in my door and see a fresh bouquet of flowers just waiting for me. Even now, I pick up some flowers when I'm at the store, and it never gets old. It’s the small things added up that really made a difference throughout 2017."
—Kayla Suazo, Lifestyle Writer
"2017 was the year I started meditating. I used to roll my eyes at the idea (I'm French and we can't really deal with anything that's too earnest and self-help-ish) but when my anxiety reached new heights in late 2016, I decided to do something about it. I started cognitive behavioral therapy, which was a huge help, and I downloaded the Headspace app.
The app allows you to take ten free, guided meditation sessions before you have to pay a monthly fee to access the rest of the catalog. After my first sessions, I happily signed up — it costs about the same as my Netflix subscription and does much more for my overall well-being.
I'd be lying if I said I meditate everyday. I can sometimes go a week without doing a single session, but whenever I feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, I start again and it really helps. After the basic fondation sessions, I moved on to the anxiety package which gave me mindfulness tools to use in my daily life and help me whenever I feel like I'm loosing my mind and panicking. This year, I'll move on to the productivity package, which hopefully will turn me into a super efficient human. A girl can dream!"
—Marie Telling, Senior Food Writer
"We can all agree that 2017 was a flaming garbage can, but in the midst of all of the madness, I went on a trip to Thailand that actually reminded me that everything on this planet isn't trash. Over the summer, my partner worked with the United Nations in Bangkok, supporting its Being LGBTI in Asia regional development program. As soon as I found out he got the offer, I screamed both in excitement for him, and in sheer panic for me that doing laundry would 100% become my responsibility. BUT then I committed to making cheap meals at home, eating leftovers for lunch at work, doing more free activities like picnics with friends instead of going out for absurdly expensive cocktails, and putting away a little savings from my paycheck every couple of weeks so that I could save up and visit him at the end of the summer. I'm here to tell you that every little bit helped, and our week together in Thailand was straight-up MAGICAL. Now, when I look back on 2017, I won't just want to stress-vomit — I can also remember all of the food, temples, beaches, monkeys, elephants, and sunsets that made me cry literal tears of joy (except the monkeys, those were tears of pure terror) during our trip." — Tom Vellner, Staff Writer
"I've always loved drinking wine, and I've always been fascinated by how my favorite wines are made, so this year I decided to sign up for a sommelier class to learn more about my passion. Every Monday night for about six months I would attend classes at American Sommelier Association where I'd learn all about viticulture and vinificaiton (in other words, the science of how wine is made, the characteristics of different grapes, and the many wine-growing regions around the world). I learned how to develop my tasting palette and identify different wine varietals in a glass by studying smells, aromas, and tastes. Now, whenever I eat at a restaurant or go into a wine shop, I am able to navigate my way around a menu or a store and find exactly what I'm looking for. It definitely gives me a new appreciation for wine knowing how much work goes into producing a single bottle. Now whenever I pour myself a glass, I think about the many aromas I can smell and the particular soil where the grapes were grown, and it allows me to travel around the world without ever leaving my apartment.
— Hannah Loewentheil, Lifestyle Writer
"When I was growing up, my mom would make me take out my clothes for the next day before I went to bed, and I hated it, because it was one more ~responsibility~ I certainly hadn't asked for. As soon as I left home, I said fuck that, and promptly began spending 20 minutes agonizing over outfits in the morning, making myself late for class and work on a regular basis. Adulthood! This year, though, I realized my mom was onto something, and decided to pick out my outfits before going to sleep, and yup, I should've listened to her all along. It takes literally one minute to do it at night, vs. the 10 or so in the morning, thanks to my inability to function before caffeine/10 am. Plus, having one less decision to make in the morning means I can stay in bed for a little longer, which for me, is the ultimate goal of everything I do."
— Terri Pous, Weddings & DIY Writer
"I've always seen travel as something only the truly well-off can afford — you know, millennials who work in finance or consulting, trust fund babies, and the like. But this year I got my shit together and proved to myself that travel is a luxury even writers on a 10-year college loan repayment plan can afford. I put away money for a few months, saved up vacation time, and this past May, traveled to Peru. It was life-changing.
On that trip, I went on a psychologically cathartic hike, rediscovered my ability to socialize with complete strangers, diversified my food palette, and best of all, taught myself the logistics of planning and executing travel. Happy to say that since that first trip, I've also visited the Scottish Highlands, London, Bern and Zurich, and Cinque Terre in Italy. I haven't booked anything for next year yet, but I'm thinking Nepal, south of France, or Budapest! (DM me your suggestions!)"
— Michelle No, Lifestyle Writer
"I've always had a bad habit of biting my nails. And in 2017 I started working at Tameans (woo!) which meant my hands would be making an appearance in cooking videos. I quietly began to freak out — how could I possibly kick the habit? My job literally depended on me having presentable hands. So, I stopped, and I noticed that my nails started to grow (something I have never seen in my adult life). Having long nails that looked healthy actually became satisfying, and biting them felt like I would ruin my progress. Having nails made me feel better, more confident, and (I assume) it has made me healthier, too (because putting my fingers in my mouth every day was probably pretty unhealthy). I don't foresee myself going back to nail-bitting in 2018, and I'm thankful I kicked the habit. Yay for nails (and healthier ways of dealing with stress)!"
— Jesse Szewczyk, Junior Staff Writer
"So much of my life changed in 2017. Not only did I graduate college, but I moved out of the South and up to New York City to start a full time job. That much change in such a short amount of time really knocked me off my feet, but I found that taking myself to see a movie every week was a great way to recenter my life. Movie theaters became my constant, and no matter if I was at a Regal, AMC, or small art house theater, I knew that for two hours I could sit in a dark room with a Cherry coke in one hand and a box of Junior Mints in the other and feel like I was right back at home."
— Delaney Strunk, Junior Staff Writer