2017 in Review

by Nia Hampton

This year has been a dumpster fire of emotion. It’s felt like the follow up to 2016’s uppercut. The good thing is that can only mean 2018 just has to get better. Right? Well, that’s up to us, pretty birds.

This past year has taught me the value of personal responsibility. Yes, many elements in this world are out of my control. I cannot control the weather, or how crowded the bus will be on my morning commute. But, I can travel with an umbrella and vote for politicians whose platforms are built on bettering my city’s infrastructure and transportation. I can’t personally throttle everyone who voted for Trump, but I can join the resistance and do everything I can to make sure that the results of the next elections are vastly different.

I plan on bringing this energy of strategic resistance into 2018 with me full force. Honestly, it’s a the only logical response to the past year of feeling so helpless. 2018 will be the year of laying low and building quietly – but making plans is only half the battle. Success will depend on the discipline to implement and then nurture those changes. Hopefully our changes are decisions made with pure intentions based on our real desires, and not just responses to external stimuli.

As we go into this new year, think about what you truly want in 2018. Not what you think you want, or what you think you should want. But what do you desire? What has 2017 stripped you of that you want back? Or perhaps never want again?  These are questions to consider when crafting a vision board for the year. Yes, vision boarding. It’s one of those things that I scoffed at initially, but then become obsessed with, because it really works.

The power of manifestation is tangible, and only requires your own energy and belief. So be careful what you wish for. Seriously. There are some experiences we go through just to teach us what we don’t want. My last significant monogamous relationship taught me that. Simply detaching myself from the person was not enough, either. I had to investigate the motives behind my own choices, and it led me to a dark and scary place where I was able to see that I was attracting a very specific type of partner because I was stuck in a cycle of trauma – one that I didn’t start, but I will be sure to finish.

That journey was as whimsical and dark as a Tim Burton film. But I don’t regret it at all. I feel lighter actually; and more aware of myself and others. That fabled feminine intuition that everyone talks about? I’m in touch with it deeply, and I’m learning to not fear, but instead respect it. But to get there, it took months of being holed up in my bedroom alone, and many sessions with therapists and spiritualists. Hopefully it won’t take that much for you, pretty birds. Perhaps a good ol’ end of year review will help you put some things in perspective.

A Google search lead me to James Clear’s Annual Review prompts, and I’ve found them to be efficient and insightful. He asks:

1. What went well this year?
2. What didn’t go so well this year?
3. What am I working toward?

Well, what went well this year?

Travel. This year I realized that I really know how to get around. Like, if there is one thing I know how to do in this life, it’s travel. I’ve been on boats, planes, trains and on foot, crossing borders and cultures, and even in the absolute worst moments (hello bus ride crossing Colombia to Ecuador, where my period showed up and my seat mates feet stunk to high heavens) I’m still one of those weird people who is comforted by arriving at the airport and knowing that I’m going somewhere.

Writing. I hit a few career milestones and published with Noisey, LA Weekly, Paste Magazine and Genius this year while holding down my contributing gig here at All the Pretty Birds and moving/traveling frequently. I also completed my first writers workshop at VONA this year, and it really changed my relationship with written word and the way I express it.

Photography. I’ve seen growth in my photography, and I’m also finally willing to share my work with others. I’m developing a style and learning the medium and feeling really motivated by other photographers like Faith Couch, Helen Salamao and Elliot Jerome.

What didn’t go so well this year?

Mental Health. I started the year in shambles. I suffered a breakdown, the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since college. It’s still somewhat fresh in my memory, and I’m currently in therapy working through it. I wrote about it more in depth for Griots Republic, and I do believe my breakdown was triggered by so much traveling.

Financial Planning. I got my first credit card last year. I’m no longer using it and still paying it off, but I will say I’m glad I had it while living in countries whose exchange rates favored the dollar. I took some real financial risks this year by paying for my excursions and travels with my credit card. Hopefully when I do my taxes (for the first time in three years!), I’ll be able to write some of my expenses off.

What am I working toward?

Improving my self-image. The relationship you have with yourself is of the utmost importance. Through traveling alone, I’ve learned that understanding myself and investing in myself always yields a high return. Much of the sorrow I’ve experienced this year has come from me losing sight of who I am, what I’ve accomplished and how I show up in the world. I’ve also learned that if I’m not seeing myself accurately, others won’t be able to either. So, I’m dedicating the beginning of 2018 to really spending time with myself – redirecting my energy inward and looking myself in the mirror often, asking the hard questions about what I want and making the appropriate changes.

And after honestly answering these prompts, I have to say that 2017 was actually better than I thought. It was painful, but from pain came growth. And I’m ready for a new year of enjoying the fruits of my labor!

Happy New Year, Pretty Birds!

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