2016 is certainly a year that won’t soon be forgotten for its overall ~ridiculousness~, but even though 2016 was arguably one of the worst years on a global scale, it was also sprinkled with quite a few shining moments. This past year for me personally was one of fun, firsts, and, growth. Here’s a look at my 2016 (with pictures!):
At the start of the year, I was just beginning the second semester of my sophomore year and I started my term as Executive Vice President in Sigma Kappa! To brainstorm ideas and get to know each other better, the newly-elected Executive Council all traveled to Chicago for a Regional Leadership Conference at the end of the month. At the start of this position, I had no idea how much I would learn. One of Sigma Kappa’s values is personal growth, and this has always been my favorite value of ours because of the ways I’ve seen myself grow in my two exec positions. Becoming EVP came with a huge change in workload and responsibility, and that led to a busy year packed full of personal growth. I not only learned how to handle myself in chaotic situations, but learned how to better communicate with others and carry myself in a more confident and assertive way.
The 2016 Executive Council at RLC in Chicago.
I definitely felt a little worn out at the start of February, clearly having not yet adjusted to the stress of school after three weeks of time off. Luckily, my friend Kayln planned a lip sync battle sisterhood event for our sorority to spend time together and help relieve some stress. This was probably one of my favorite sisterhoods we’ve ever had. I was on a team with most of my closest friends in the sorority, and our performances of “Cheetah Sisters,” and “Hollaback Girl” won us the overall title at the end of the afternoon!
Over the past year, I’ve grown really close with a small group of my sisters and have really come to appreciate the friendship side of Greek life. I’ve always seen its merits in leadership development and networking potential, and while I’ve had friends in my sorority, it wasn’t until this past year that I developed that support system that I originally joined Greek life to find.
The beginning of March brought a much needed Spring Break, and traveled to Sebring, Florida with my roommate and friend Sarah-Elizabeth. Over the course of one week, we went to the beach, laid out at the pool and explored Highlands Hammock State Park. We even visited Disney World for the first time for both of us!
Right in the middle of our trip, I joined the 20s club, and I welcomed in my birthday with the help of Sarah-Elizabeth and her lovely grandparents. Since I turned 20, I think the most significant change I’ve noticed in myself is the ability to be more independent. Even though the 20s club is, at time, a scary club to be a part of, I’m so excited to continue to learn more about myself during these years. I firmly believe this time in my life is meant for doing just that, and I can’t wait for all the unique experiences that come with being a 20-something.
In April, I was so happy to get to bring my friends Noah and Sterling along to Sigma Kappa’s spring formal. I cannot explain the love I have for these two people! We had so much fun dancing the night away on the rooftop of the Village Promenade, and later that night we were blessed with Beyonce’s surprise release of her visual album, Lemonade. We of course had to stay up another hour to watch, and our love for Queen Bey grew even more, if that was possible.
Just before the end of the month, my mom traveled to Muncie for SK Mom’s Day. I always love when my mom can come to visit me, and I think one of the best things about having chosen a university a little over an hour away from my home is that my family can come visit me somewhat often. Whether it’s for a planned event like this one, or a spontaneous trip to take me to dinner, I never go too long without seeing my family and I am grateful for that.
We each made our own paintings at this year's "Cookies and Canvas" themed Mom's Day.
My sophomore year ended, and two days later I was on a plane with eight of my classmates to London, England. For two weeks, we explored London, Bath, Paris, and Chartres (just to name a few cities) on what was probably the busiest trip of my life so far (check out my blog post from earlier in the year about all the summer travels I mention in this post). Having never visited these places before (other than a few days in London when I was a literal infant), it was unreal to see the places I have so often fantasized about visiting.
The Globe Theatre in London, England.
In Paris with my friend Noah! I was so glad I we were able to experience this trip together.
When I returned, I began my full-time summer internship with Gibraltar Design, an architecture company in Indianapolis. This was my first hire in a professional setting, and I learned a lot about responsibility and personal accountability. Even though I feel like a functioning adult in many ways, I often still feel terrified of the “real” world, especially when I think about my future career. In the next few months, I will be looking for more opportunities to develop my skills and get closer to what I want to do as a career, since you could say that my current aspirations are a little vague.
In June, my family and I traveled west to Boulder, CO where we got to see most of my dad’s side of the family. We also hiked in the Flatirons and in the Rocky Mountains (okay, we drove through those) and tried lots of new restaurants. I even got to visit my friend Grace at her school, University of Denver! Although I had been to Colorado before, this time around I really got to appreciate the scenery and the atmosphere that is so different than Indiana. I also loved seeing the school where my friend lives for most of the year, since, again, it is so different than the places I am most used to back home. If you know me, you know that I love to travel, so I was thrilled to have a summer full of so much traveling. It was a good chance to physically and mentally take a break from my hometown.
In the Rocky Mountains.
July brought yet another travel adventure, this time to Chicago for Sigma Kappa’s national convention. As one of two delegates sent from my Ball State chapter, I got to vote in the election of the new national executive officers and attend lots of leadership workshops! I also met some officers from other chapters nationwide, and even reconnected with some other Sigma Kappa’s I had previously met at RLC. Being in Chicago, we took any free time to explore the city. One night, my friend Jessica and I joined our roommates (from a chapter in Pennsylvania) to explore Navy Pier! This was another adventure that, although short, was something I’ve always thought about but never actually done. We rode the ferris wheel on the pier, and looking out over the city at night was an amazing sight.
Jessica and I exploring Chicago during Sigma Kappa's national convention.
I love going to concerts when I can, and on the last day of the month, my mom took me to see one of my all-time favorite singers, Gwen Stefani! I had never seen her in concert before, but my penchant for listening to my copy of Love. Angel. Music. Baby. constantly when I was younger assured that I could sing along to all the words!
In my last month of summer, I finished up my internship and moved into my very first apartment in Muncie with Sarah-Elizabeth. We spent an entire afternoon with our families carrying in furniture and making ourselves at home. Ever since we decided to move off-campus last year, I was a nervous wreck about living on my own. Being an adult is hard! However, we have done just fine in our first months living in our apartment, and I really enjoy the independence! Almost every Monday night for the past few months, I had Sterling and Noah over for a homemade dinner, and Sarah-Elizabeth continues to make the place more of a home with the addition of new decorations every so often.
This past September, I interviewed and was hired as a tutor at the Writing Center at Ball State. There, I work one-on-one with clients on specific writing assignments that range from research papers, to personal statements for grad school applications, to short stories. Since then, I’ve had countless sessions with all kinds of undergraduate and graduate writers. Writing is extremely important to me, although I know what it’s like to feel like your writing isn’t good enough. It’s really rewarding to help other people to feel more confident in their writing, and I also can use the techniques I use in the writing center when I do my own writing.
In the middle of the month, my dad came to Ball State for SK dad’s day, where we played as a team in a series of “minute to win it” style games in what was a very entertaining afternoon. I look forward to this day every year because I love getting to spend quality time with just my dad.
My travel-intense year continued over fall break, when I traveled to New York City for four days with my mama (check out my earlier post all about this trip!). We had so much fun exploring the city. Last year I wasn’t able to join the rest of my family on their trip to the Big Apple, so I was happy to get to catch up on some of those experiences, as well as see two Broadway shows! One of my favorite things that we did was track down Carrie Bradshaw’s brownstone from the filming of Sex and the City, my all-time favorite TV show. When we finally found it with the help of Google maps, I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one obsessed with finding it! After that, we watched the sun go down from Washington Square Park and ate dinner a trendy restaurant with all the mood lighting located a level below the streets of SoHo. I will not kid myself and say we still didn’t look like complete tourists, but it felt really cool to get off the touristy path for the evening.
In front of Carrie Bradshaw's brownstone in SoHo.
We enjoyed walking around Times Square at night after we saw our two shows on Broadway!
When break was over, I was hard at work practicing for Air Jam, a lip-syncing competition part of BSU’s homecoming week. I was part of Air Jam my freshman year with my residence hall, and had so much fun then that I was looking forward to getting to perform on Sigma Kappa’s team at some point before I graduated. It had been a while since I did any kind of performance, but I loved getting to practice and clean our routine because it reminded me so much of my showchoir days in high school. Our team performed on the night of the 18th, and had so much fun rocking our denim-on-denim looks for the “blast to the past” theme!
Our Air Jam team was made up of Sigma Kappa's and Phi Delta Theta's.
Sigma Kappa’s fall formal was in November. Formal is the event we all look forward to all semester, and I was so glad to get to take my boyfriend, Von, along and introduce him to my friends! It was so much fun to get all dressed up, go out for dinner, and show off our dance moves.
Just before leaving for Thanksgiving break, my friends and I held a "friendsgiving" at our apartment, where we made an entire Thanksgiving meal complete with ham, mini green bean casseroles, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, and pumpkin pie. Then, I traveled to Cincinnati for actual Thanksgiving with my family to join our cousins. I was glad to get to see some cousins that I don’t see as often because they live further away than just Ohio! Family is so so important to me, and although I appreciate my family all year round, you can’t beat having everyone under one roof.
Our own friendsgiving in our apartment.
All semester, I attended training sessions to become a Greek Peer Advocate and learn information I will use to facilitate workshops in my own sorority about sexual assault prevention. In December, I finished my training! Sexual assault prevention is an area which I am really passionate about, so I was glad to hear from professionals every week and even learn about some topics I didn’t know as much about. After passing off my position as Vice President and finishing up all of my finals, I finally came home for break, where I have seen some friends from high school and have been spending lots of time with my family, even going on surprise adventures that my mom has planned for us! Our first surprise was going to Breakout Indy where we worked as a family to solve puzzles in order to escape!
We broke out of our room with just 35 seconds to spare!