Highlights from 2018: A Year of Personal Growth and Exploration!

I know this post is a little late, but this is my blog so I get to post whatever I want whenever I want [insert emoji with tongue sticking out]. Plus, let's be honest, I just finally posted photos from my trip to Paris that took place six months ago, so this is relatively on time! Yikes. Anyways, I wanted to take a moment and put out into the interwebs my highlights of 2018.

2018 HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Presenting at Conferences

 
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I got accepted to two literary conferences in 2018. The first conference took place at the University of Portland. I had never before visited the quirky city of Portland, but it was a great way to experience it for the first time. I got donuts from Voodoo Donuts and hauled up in my AirBnB while I practiced and practiced and fine-tuned and practiced my presentation. When it came time to present, I was still so nervous that even thirty minutes after I finished I was still shaking. But it was honestly such an exhilirating experience. To celebrate finishing the conference, I made dinner plans with two old friends from high school. My friend Noelle lives in Portland and our friend Johannes was visiting her from Germany, so it was a perfect time to be there and get to see them both. I also visited Powell's City of Books twice in four days. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

The second conference was at UC Berkeley in the Comparative Literature department. If I was nervous before, those nerves only doubled when I learned that the other students presenting were top students at top universities. The presenters came from Princeton, Columbia, NYU, University of Chicago, and Reed. I also made the big mistake of googling everyone before the conference, so I found out that the presenters had won various awards, were the Editors of their undergraduate academic journals, etc. I was so nervous! But then Aashish reminded me that I also went to a good university, that I was an editor for my academic journal, and that I deserved to be there as much as the other presenters.

Overall, these conferences were major highlights in 2018. Being accepted gave me a huge boost in confidence. I had the chance to present my academic research with other academics and was able to hold my own. Going forward, my fears of academic inadequacy have been somewhat quelled.

2. Graduating!

 
 

Finally graduating from university was truly the number one highlight of my 2018. I had been in community college for so long before applying to transfer that it made the two years at Berkeley just fly by. The whole experience was a crazy rollercoaster of ups and downs. There were a lot of really difficult times over those two years, including a pretty bad dive into depression that forced me to seek counseling. There were a lot of feelings of inadequacy, fears of failure, and terrors of being exposed as an impostor (see: impostor syndrome). But there were a lot of positives too. I really think I came out on the other side a completely different and better person. My thought process is much more complex than before starting at Berkeley. I look at everything through a literary lens now, which I think has made me understand the world a lot better. Most importantly, I became so much more confident in my abilities and learned to truly believe in myself.

3. Bon Voyage!

 
 

The final thing I want to highlight from 2018 (though these were certainly not the only highlights) was my very belated honeymoon trip with Aashish to Paris and Rome! Even though we had been together for nearly four years, Aashish and I had never been on a plane together until our flight to Paris! Isn't that crazy? We had been on many road trips and knew we traveled well together, but we had never been on a real vacation. It turned out to be the best trip of my life, even though I spent a good majority of it suffering from horrible allergies or being sick.

We both fell absolutely in love with Paris. It would be hard not to. With stunning architecture, delicious food, and amazing museums everywhere you turn, it is impossible not to immediately understand why it is the most iconic city in the world. And Rome was a delight too, though to be honest Paris was much better of a city. But what I most enjoyed about the trip was just simply being with Aashish. When we were talking about our favorite parts of the trip, we both agreed that while x museum or y site was beautiful, our favorite part was just walking around the city together. We have the same sense of humor and we just laughed and laughed the whole trip! We explored the streets, took naps in beautiful parks, kissed under the Eiffel Tower, and just enjoyed being around each other. I can't wait to explore the rest of the world with my best friend by my side.

Well, that is all from 2018 for now. (But stay tuned for more about the Rome leg of our trip coming soon.)

Until next time!
Shayna