On the eve of my first day as a thirty-something (I know, I know, but last year I wasn’t technically 30-something, I was 30-nothing), I thought it fitting to review the past year. In doing so, I realized that despite a rough past few months, 30 will likely go down as one of the best years in recent history, that is, if 31 doesn’t end up giving it a run for its money.
Despite being unemployed, I’ve done a lot professionally in the past year:
- Completed a competitive writing fellowship, publishing four research-based analytical articles that were well received by the public
- Launched a professional webpage (www.aliciaakins.com)
- Attended 3 professional conferences
- Made just over 100 new professional connections through networking, conferences, interviewing people for writing fellowship, and referrals
- Contributed to the conceptualization of a grant that got funded
- Contributed to a project that was recently launched as an exhibit
- Interviewed for 3 jobs
- Worked at the Smithsonian
- Got paid for my language skills
- Fulfilled my contract at first (and second!) museum job
- Had my writing included as required reading for graduate course at UCLA
- Set 5 year career plans
30 was easily the year that involved the most travel for me. In the past year, I visited:
- Hong Kong
- Luang Namtha
- Vang Vieng
- Siem Reap
- San Francisco
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
There’s nothing quite like catching up with old friends and family. Reunions are particularly good at putting personal growth into perspective. My reunions happened sort of all over the place, but, the takeaway warm fuzzy from this is that many people were intentional about seeing me and I want to be more intentional about seeing people in the future as well.
- Family, after 2 -2.5 years away;
- Christina, old housemate, in Cambodia, after 4 years since Boston;
- Marc and Jo in Hong Kong, after 6 years since Qingdao;
- The Dachauer’s in San Francisco, 7 years ago since church in college in New Jersey;
- Donny and Katherine in San Francisco, after 4 years since MIT;
- Rashi in DC and SF, 3 years, cause we caught up in DC while I was visiting from Seattle. I got to see her twice this summer!
- Grace, in DC, after 2 years;
- Seattle friends: the Byunn’s, Jess, Jonathan, Sarah, Vora (I also saw in DC!), Nick, Weiyu, UW museo-friends
- Cynthia in Seattle, after 4 years since Boston;
- Old professors from grad school;
- Lucy in DC, after 4 years since Boston (and I’m currently staying in her place!);
- Chris in Laos, who I hosted once and saw twice after a year or so after finishing grad school;
- My mentor in Seattle, who I spoke with over Skype for a year without ever meeting.
I went on three dates this year which is three times as many as I went on in the decade before that!
I’m more comfortable in my own skin. Not comfortable enough to wear a bathing suit in public, but when I’m fully clothed I feel good about how I look. So, progress, but there’s still a ways to go. One of the greatest lessons I learned about myself in Laos, was about my strength. Finishing my contract was one accomplishment, but not giving up on the whole thing taught me I’m stronger than I thought I was, or maybe, I just became stronger through it. And, I feel (which I don’t think I felt before) like I’d make a really good partner and like I have so much more to offer the world because of my experiences abroad.
So with tomorrow’s birthday I look forward to making 31 a standout year! In the next year, I hope to:
- Make lots of new friendships
- Get a new drivers license (read: put down roots somewhere)
- Publish in a journal and present at a conference
- Be my physically healthiest & strongest self yet
- Dance A LOT: salsa, tango, swing, Ghanaian, anything
- Travel to Kenya, Bangladesh, & India
- Rejuvenate my faith
- Improve my Korean and learn basic Swahili
Ok, 30, you didn’t do me wrong. 31, you’ve got a tough act to follow (so do something huge for me will ya?)! Please be beautiful, date filled, bless others and be brimming with hope.