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A Year in Review: 2018

Well. Wow. I can’t believe I’m sitting here writing this. It feels like yesterday I was writing my 2017 end of year review post.

It feels somewhat redundant writing this up after my last post reflecting on my 10 months living in Koh Tao but I also feel like I can’t miss out on my annual review!

So: 2018.

The year started off in Thailand. I had just moved here and moved into my new apartment at The Hive on January 1st. Life was suddenly 3000x more social than in the past two years and I was living it up on the island for the first couple months of the year.

Girl in black bikini sitting on rock at Sai Nuan beach in Koh Tao, Thailand
January 2018. Pale and new to the island.

In March, I met my parents in Israel. It was my third time traveling there and their first and we had an absolute blast. Then it was back to Koh Tao for me. Besides a few other short visa runs to Laos and Malaysia, I mainly stayed on Koh Tao for the following months. I never intended to live there as long as I did but leaving didn’t feel right either. June was a big turning point for me; I committed to staying on the island for longer and trying to make my lifestyle more sustainable.

I did, however, plan to go home for Thanksgiving. After a pretty epic final 2 weeks in Thailand, including a visit from my friend Christie, I went home to Atlanta in October. From there, I traveled with my parents to LA for Thanksgiving and then flew back to Thailand after that.

And here we are.

My parents hiking in Makhtesh Ramon in Israel
March 2018. Israel with my parents.

What happened this year??

The neverending health dramas

Although I was incredibly grateful to have more or less closed the TMJD chapter, 2018 brought me a new health problem to contend with: the return of my cystic body acne after being off the pill for a few months.

Girl in bikini standing on a rock at Laem Thian in Koh Tao, Thailand
May 2018. On the path to loving my body again.

I spent the first half of the year coping with painful, inflamed cysts while still somehow trying to feel comfortable and confident in my skin. Skin that was nearly impossible to hide in the tropical weather and beach days.

I started taking spironolactone as a last resort before trying the last, last resort of Accutane and had to give it 6 months to work. It was a brutal wait, but in the end, a month-long doxycycline stint combined with 100mg of spiro a day got me clear and, friends, you have no idea what a relief it has been. Genuinely life-changing.

Lifestyle design and balance and stuff

This year was my first time doing the “digital nomad” thing, and there were honestly a lot of kinks to work out.

Group of people from the Hive
June 2018. A rich social life.

In terms of work, I just sort of coasted along. I didn’t save much but was able to support myself with my existing client work.

After the intensity and dullness of 2017, I honestly just wanted to enjoy my life and what I had worked so hard for. So I had fun. A lot of it. And you know what? I needed that.

I needed to remember what it felt like to simply enjoy my life, my body, and my self. So life was a bit unbalanced in terms of work v play but I needed it and I’m grateful I got to sit back and relax for the most part.

Black puppy swimming in the sea
July 2018. Finding love in an animal friend.

Accomplishments

This past year was definitely not one for professional accomplishments. However, from a personal growth standpoint, I would say it was a year for the books.

  • I moved myself and my business abroad and made a home in Koh Tao
  • I learned a ton about how to live with others and how other people experience the world differently from me; I made real friends on Koh Tao
  • I learned how to ride a bicycle
  • I danced, sung, snorkeled, and saw the sunset a lot
Two girls hanging upside down at the Upside Down Museum in Georgetown, Penang
September 2018. A brief but fun visa run to Georgetown, Malaysia.

My favorite posts of 2018

Koh Tao, Why Don’t You Love Me?

The third installment of my series of breakup posts to cities I’ve lived in, this one was the most emotional for me. I loved writing this because I got to “show” instead of “tell” which is rare in the blogging world. I also loved working with a photographer for the photo shoot for the post. I want to do more writing and projects like this in the future that challenge me creatively.

That Time I Traveled with My Parents in Israel

I interviewed my parents after our trip to Israel in March and loved hearing their thoughts and feelings on the experience.

Reflecting on My First Month as a Digital Nomad

I learned an important lesson about the fear of change in that first month after moving abroad.

Selfie of family in helmets riding bicycles in Atlanta
October 2018. Home in Atlanta to see friends and family and enjoy all the comforts I missed.

Did I hit the goals I set last year?

HELL NO! Not the professional or financial ones at least.

But at the end of my 2017 review post, I talked about learning to love myself again. I would say I did hit this particular goal, which perhaps was the hardest of them all to do.

In the tropical heat where I spent a lot of time showing a lot of skin, I realized that no matter what I looked like or even how insecure I felt about my body, people still wanted to be my friend. Guys still wanted to hook up with me. The world went on. And all of this helped me feel more empowered being me. I felt sexy and desirable. I felt strong.

Sometimes you just need to go do the things you dream of doing (which for me was living on a tropical island) and problem solve and persist until your life feels authentic to you to find your way back to yourself.

Family sitting on steps for Thanksgiving photo
November 2018. Grateful to see family for Thanksgiving.

Goals for next year

I’m in a natural moment of transition and I’m feeling like pivoting.

Yes, I still want to work on my blog and it would be so cool to make more money from it. But I’m also feeling like exploring new writing pursuits.

And yes I love the freedom I get from working online, but I also want to maintain a strong foothold in the real world. Staring into a computer screen the majority of the day is not for me. I now know I need to be consistently interacting with people out there. I’m finding I want to establish a home base and feel like a part of the community.

That being said, here are some goals for the new year:

  Learn and practice different styles of writing, namely journalism, fiction, and poetry. Paid or unpaid, I just want to become more flexible in terms of writing styles. I also want to challenge myself creatively.

  Maintain a portable fitness routine and eat foods that make me feel great. I’ve already kicked this off by buying a resistance band, which is such a great fitness tool for travel, and by giving myself permission to invest in quality, nutritious meals instead of cheap Thai food full of simple carbs and sugar.

  Get a part-time job in the real (not virtual) world. I just find myself craving this so might as well do it. It’s also good because it diversifies my income.

  Conquer my stage fright and sing more. I love singing. I want to practice performing by doing more ‘open mic’ type of things. And strive to improve my technique as well.

  Travel to new countries. Specifically Japan. Even if I go nowhere else, I want to make it to Japan in 2019.

  Save a bunch more money so I can buy something big. 

Girl standing by string lights holding ukulele
December 2018. Back in Thailand and ready for what’s next.

As time goes on, I realize when it comes to goals, the satisfaction isn’t necessarily in achieving them. As in life, getting to the end isn’t the point. The point is enjoying what’s happening in the middle. The journey, as they say, not the destination 😉

See you in 2019 (!!?)

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