Cherishing 2014 and Anticipating the Future: A Year in Review

#DailyWings: “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” -Neil Gaiman

One year ago, I was about to begin my final semester of college. I was terrified of the future, of 2014 and all the uncertainty that came with the new year. Graduation was so close, yet I had nothing planned out for myself. There were many ifs about what I would be doing once I left UNC-Chapel Hill, but the challenges weren’t just technical. I was emotional about my close friends leaving – the one group of people with whom I felt I could be myself – and about entering the 9-to-5 world. When so many of my peers longed to get out of our safety bubble that was UNC-Chapel Hill, I wanted to stay for as long as possible.

Today, as I look back on my “year in review” (basically a list of accomplishments and events; it’s annual writing tradition I’ve kept up for a few years now), I realize that this past year is completely different from what I’d expected it to be like. There are few things on my list that were my original New Years resolutions for 2014. I didn’t read one book a month, journal every work or get eight hours of sleep regularly. And I certainly didn’t meditate every day.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this past year, it’s that you can never plan out the future exactly as you want it to be. But sometimes, it’s a good thing. At the end of a long road, when you look back at everything that’s happened, you might be surprised by what you’ve learned and what you’ve gained – yes, even after a loss or failure.

At the end of every December, I give the upcoming year a theme – a focal point to guide me throughout the next 12 months as I move closer toward achieving my goals. 2014 was supposed to be my year of writing, but it ended up being about something else: independence. Sure, I knew 2014 would see my transition out of college, but the main plans were to complete a book, record everything about my life in a journal and start writing creatively again. None of that happened, unfortunately; this is something I want to change in 2015.

Even though I didn’t get as much personal writing done as I would’ve liked, I reached several milestones that have been integral for the development of my educational, social and professional careers. For once, I’m looking back at the last 365 days and not feeling totally disappointed in myself. This is what I did in 2014:

My 2014 Year in Review

  • Learned how to drive on the highway (comfortably) on my own
  • Worked at China.org.cn as a summer editorial intern on scholarship, living alone for extended periods of time in Beijing
  • Learned how to navigate public transportation (Beijing again – woohoo!)
  • Flew on an airplane by myself for the first time
  • Defended my senior honors thesis and graduated from college with highest honors in journalism
  • Further developed faith, trust and unconditional love in my relationship with Andrew (we’re going on two years next month!)
  • Met my personal GPA goal by the time I graduated from UNC
  • Started a full-time job as a web content producer (digital marketing coordinator) for Personify
  • Redesigned and launched a brand-new writer website and blog

Some Other Event Highlights of 2014:

  • I went on a senior retreat with my North Carolina Fellows class, which was the best weekend of my entire life so far.
  • I got to tour the magazine offices of Health, BRIDES and Bon Appetit during a weekend trip to New York City.
  • I visited Boston in August, spending quality time with my smart, talented and beautiful high schooler of a cousin, Ange (who seems to be growing up a lot faster than I’d like).
  • I got to attend my first Duke-UNC basketball game – believe me, it was legen-wait-for-it-DARY!

Out of everything I did in 2014, I have to say that this website is one of my proudest accomplishments. I’d had no intention of redesigning my website until toward the end of April, when I could no longer ignore the emptiness that came with my lack of blogging. Though I do miss The Red Angel blog, Wendy Lu Writes has allowed me the freedom to brand myself as a writer and fill void spaces on the Internet once again. I’ve missed this.

So what’s in store for 2015? I’ll be posting my official New Years resolutions in a few days, but here’s something that won’t be elaborated on that post: This website is still a work in progress. I thought I knew exactly what kind of blogger I wanted to be, the type of content I wanted to write and the writing style I wanted to be remembered by. But I don’t – at least not yet.

As my personality has changed over the course of 2014, I’ve become more “marketing-minded” and interested in things like makeup, skincare and cooking. You might say that I’ve read one too many magazines and watched more YouTube videos than my personal time allows. While I’m learning to embrace this new side of me, I don’t want to forget the creative, honest and reflective side of my writing either. As I learn to balance the two, I hope to understand and maximize the potential of this blog. More than anything, this new year is about staying true to you, my readers. If it weren’t for you all, I wouldn’t have had the courage to launch this website in the first place. Whether you’ve been following me since The Red Angel or you’re new here, thank you for supporting me in my writing endeavors. You’ve helped to make 2014 one of the most transforming years of my life so far.

As I continue to piece together my writing identity and find my footing in the blogging community over the next year, you might notice some changes around the website. It might be my writing schedule, a small addition to the website or even be a shift in my writing style. I’m not sure yet. Though there is uncertainty now and there are bound to be mistakes in my future, as Neil Gaiman said on his blog six years ago, making mistakes means trying new things and pushing yourself: “Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.”

I know I’m going to eventually trip and fall over my own tangled feet in 2015. Multiple times, probably. But even when I mess up or forget to post when I’m sick or fail you in a number of other ways, I will always have the best intentions, and I hope that you’ll understand forgive me. I made a lot of mistakes over the past year, I know, but they were good ones to make. For it is only by learning what needs to be changed that we begin to unravel the mysteries of who we are.

I wish you a brilliant and happy 2015.

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