Ah, New Year’s Eve; we meet again. The most anti-climatic of holidays. I have spent you in some pretty awesome ways – drinking on the streets in Hong Kong, singing in a piano bar on a ship in Antarctica, jumping into the waves in Rio de Janeiro, locked inside a religious compound in Nicaragua, riding a bull at a bar in Hollywood, lighting fireworks in Tahoe, making ice cream sundaes at Grandma’s. 

NYE Antartica 2016

Tonight I will meet 2020 after an early dinner with my parents, where I was the designated driver (PLOT TWIST OF THE DECADE), and our goal was to be home by 9pm to hang out with the dogs. Goal. Achieved. And then some. We were home at 7:30.

New Year’s seems mostly about setting resolutions, and the louder you announce them, the more you should mean them. So I shouldn’t announce any here, because resolutions can be traps. I always kiiinda set some, knowing full well I will mostly fail, because nothing about me is going to change overnight to make it possible for me to magically accomplish things I’ve really been meaning to do for years. I’m the kind of person who announces on Sunday that she’s going Keto, and then is found up to her armpits in french fries by noon the next day. I have little to no self-control about things I truly enjoy and see little to no harm in enjoying.

I do love the occasional challenge or contest – I’ve done chocolate free and french fry free Lent, Sober September, lived without TV for years, successfully avoided a healthy BMI for decades, so I know I can manage some long-term goals if I truly set my heart on it. 

But every new year brings a new kind of hope that I will be able to drastically change bad habits overnight and morph into the version of me I am in mind (she looks like ‘90s Britney Spears but wins Oscars, hosts SNL, and owns beachfront property). Every new year brings a new kind of hope that something amazing might happen – some sort of fairy tale or “When Harry Met Sally” situation when someone I’ve loved all along admits they’ve loved me all along and we get all dramatic about it. Every new year brings a new round of “Really?! Another year has passed? And I STILL don’t have it all together? I’m not even mad, I’m impressed.”

You know what does color me impressed? I am really loving that everyone is putting together all these lookbacks at the last decade, and showing through pictures and personal writings all they’ve been through and learned in the last ten years. It’s a first of its kind situation, since in 2010, we didn’t have instagram or Facebook to help us remember all the highs and lows, or provide us a place to showcase them to the world, provide us a place to give shoutouts to those close to us who have helped us through tough times, or who have entered our lives in meaningful ways.

NYE 2010 in Hawaii!

Ten years ago today . . . well, I had to look it up, to be honest, but I was in Hawaii with my generous aunt and uncle, their kids, my sisters, and a truckload of rain. We went to Hana and it was miserable! Cockroaches everywhere, rain so hard we stayed inside and watched DVDs of “Everybody Loves Raymond” on repeat. It was funny. Then my sisters and I went to Disneyland with Gma, which was something she would always get a bee in her bonnet about – she had to take the kids to Disneyland, and she’d bring a book to read, and we’d run around to all the rides and then run up to her breathless about whatever we’d just done and come meet her to go to lunch and do Pirates of the Caribbean altogether. Those are some of my favorite memories.

Disneyland January 2010!

I don’t know how or if I could properly recap the last ten years . . . a decade ago I was 25 and thought I knew it all and also had no idea what I was doing. Here we are ten years later and. 

Well. I do like data. I could try some numbers . . . 

In the last ten years, I’ve lived on three continents, taught 13 grades at four schools, all subjects including 1st grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, Latin/Spanish/Drama/Bible/Photography/Yearbook. I had one horrific flight where an engine blew outside my window after takeoff that I thought had ended travel forever for me. But I’ve visited 17 countries since then. I’ve driven across the USA from West to East coast two and a half times. I’ve bartended, taught, nannied, waited tables, been unemployed, battled massive bouts of depression.

my house in NC when we strung everything with lights but forgot to check that they worked until it was all done. still laughing so hard my stomach hurts.

I had one white Christmas, once sung at an open mic night, read the entire Bible twice, took countless selfies with penguins, had one love of my life, and got over that breakup when I thought was the end of my life. I wrote eight articles for the Huffington Post, hiked in the Appalachians and the Sierras, swam in the Atlantic and Pacific and Indian oceans. I’ve become fluent in two additional languages.

I cannot count how many times I have packed my life into a suitcase, or how many roommates I’ve lived with. Cannot count the number of friends I’ve congratulated on their engagement/wedding/gender reveal/actual childbirth/divorce/remarriage. 

when besties get married

I cannot count the laughs, the tears, the memories made at the expense of work or sleep. The appetizers and desserts and drinks and road sodas and night caps and late night talks and early morning hikes. The selfies attempted versus the ones we accepted as canon. I cannot count the terrible encounters I’ve had with men that I might have settled for in earlier years, but certainly not now, when I know I deserve better.

Cannot count the many blessings that awesome people, women and men, have poured into my life with encouragement, advice, ‘keep goings,’ ‘praying for yous,’ and offers for coffees or happy hours to just catch up and be cool to each other. 

When in doubt, be someone people want to be around.
Like Sasquatch.

Ten years ago, I could have never imagined what and where my life would be now. I was in my first year of teaching, without a credential, Latin, which I did not know, at a super conservative private school. I lived in a shared house in Concord. I just wanted to get married and start a family and get a french bulldog and that’s about it. 

I’ve learned a lot in the last ten years – they’re probably the most formative of your life, from 25-35, because you’re out of high school, college, fully coming into who you will be as an adult. And I’d write the lessons learned, but everyone’s already done that, and we know, don’t we? I think instead I’ll write what I’d say to 25 year old me. And we can all imagine she’d listen.

Hey, Rachel!

This is future you! Guess what?! You are gorgeous. You are all you need. You are okay. And I’m not going to spoil anything here, but I do want to reach out and give you a literary hug and a bit of advice. The next ten years, like every passage of time, are going to bring their trials and tribulations. They are going to make you want to go walkabout, take lots of naps, cry in public places, laugh until you cry, laugh until you pee your pants. You are going to make some really questionable choices. You are going to make some really GREAT choices. You will always tell people to make good choices themselves. 

wienerever you’re in doubt, just be you.

You will be judged and criticized and you will wonder if there is something wrong with you. You will be told you are “too ____________.” But I want you to remember that the world gets only one you and you get only one you, too. Why would you be anything less than all you are? God doesn’t make mistakes.

If I could boil it down to just a few pointers, it would be this:

  • it doesn’t matter what it costs if you’re going to have fun. Or it means something to you.
  • you will always be tired. Always stay up for the chat.
  • only be vulnerable with people who you trust will be vulnerable with you.
  • don’t ever be ashamed of things you are enthusiastic about or scared about.
  • drink water and wear sunscreen.
  • you look better than you think – wear it.
  • throw parties. Everyone loves organized fun.
  • donate and volunteer.
  • collect stories and memories and pictures and write things down.
  • send cards and texts and let people know when you’re thinking of them.

Again – the world only gets one you, and you only get one try. Don’t stop at go.

Here’s to 2020! May anything bad get better, may everything good get better.