“I feel most times we’re high and low (high and low).” (-Empire of the Sun, “High and Low”)
2018 has been a roller coaster of a year, amiright? I feel like people say that every year, but this year for me, it’s been true.
I rang in the New Year (actually on Dec. 31, 2017 but who’s counting) by hiking in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix with my fam, which should definitely become a NYE/NYD tradition. At the time, I wasn’t sure what 2018 would bring, of course. My contract was almost up at work, but I didn’t have a new job lined up yet. Cue the panic.
I was optimistic, though. I wrote down resolutions for the first time, and I was hopeful I could stick to them. Spoiler: I did not, but that’s okay. I made progress on some of them, and I will continue to work towards achieving them and my other goals.
This year was very unexpected, from start to finish. Part of me is glad it’s almost over, but I’m also thankful for the lessons it taught me and the memories I will always treasure. For now, let’s take a look back at my highs and lows of 2018. P.S. This is a super wordy post, sorry, so if you get bored, just look at all the pictures I included!
Leaving my job in January
Almost since starting my job in Tucson in January 2016, I knew it wasn’t right for me. After a year had passed, I realized things weren’t going to change (though they did get a little better with some management changes) and I wasn’t happy working in TV news. So I scrapped my plans to transfer to another station in the company (aka what I did to leave Tulsa to get my Tucson job) and decided to stick it out until the end of my 2-year contract, after which time I planned to find a job in a field that was better about promoting work-life balance.
By the time January 2018 came, I was ready to move on. I felt I had served my purpose and I wanted to better utilize my talents elsewhere. Mostly, I was sick of having to work holidays, producing two shows a night at least twice a week when everyone else only had to do one most of the time and just feeling underappreciated.
I actually flew out for an all-day interview with a TV station in Las Vegas in early January because my boss heard wind that I was considering staying with the company but finding a new station. It was one of the most exhausting days of my life having to be “on” all day after waking up at 3 a.m. and not getting back to Tucson until midnight, but I guess they were impressed with me because they wanted to make an offer. Long story short, my boss shut them down for reasons unknown to me and I’ll never know what it would have been like working in TV news in Vegas.
I still have no regrets leaving the TV news world. While the jobs I’ve had since have actually been lower-paying (shocking, considering how poorly paid journalists are), they’ve been a much better fit for me and my skills and personality.
Leaving my job in January
I’ll admit — it was hard leaving my Tucson job without having something lined up. It was terrifying, TBH, and the only thing tempering my fear was knowing my parents were letting me live with them while I searched for a new job.
It was also hard leaving behind the friends I’d made, and the home I created for myself and Honey in Tucson. While our apartment wasn’t the best thanks to poor management, I loved the area we lived in and being so close to the mountains and fairly close to work. I’d also become close with a few people at my job, and knowing I probably wouldn’t see them again (at least not for awhile), even though we were going to be in the same state, was not great.
Winery visits x3
Before 2018, I had only visited a winery once before, in April 2017. This year, I went three times and they were all a blast.
My sister and her boyfriend visited us for their spring break from college in March, so we drove up to the Verde Valley wine region for a day of wine tastings. None of us had visited this wine region before so we were excited to explore.
Arizona might not be as well known as our neighbor to the west for having good wine, but visiting the wineries was such a fun experience that I went three times this year — twice to the Verde Valley, and once to Sonoita. I don’t consider myself a wino (lol) but it’s just cool to try new wines and enjoy the beautiful vineyards with my fam.
Getting carded all the time
I admit this is a lame complaint, but I couldn’t think of anything better to go along with with the high.
I turned 26 years old this year, and still get mistaken for a teenager. I think that annoys me more than being carded for drinks, because I know many places are really strict about making sure they’re not serving minors. However, several times this year I’ve had people ask me what school I go to. As in, high school. Then I have to awkwardly tell them I graduated college 5 years ago (can’t believe it’s been that long). Maybe it’s just because I’ve been doing more things with my parents this year since moving in with them, and people assume someone with their parents must still be under 18. I know I look young, but really? I can see being mistaken for a college student, but not a high schooler. This is why I always try to look put together with makeup, nice clothes and sometimes heels, to make myself appear closer to my age.
Starting a new job
After almost six months of actively applying for jobs and having interviews, I finally started a new job in early May. And the best part — it wasn’t in news. I was a copywriter for a digital marketing agency in Phoenix, and I loved almost everything about the job. I became an expert on so many different topics, from home renovations to medical conditions to auto body work to benefits of pedicures, I covered it all by writing blog and social media copy for dozens of clients across the country. No two days were the same, and unlike in TV, I actually had some downtime occasionally, which was nice but some days I wished I had more work on my plate to fill 8 hours. The pay wasn’t what I was hoping for, but I gained a TON of useful work experience, which I’m grateful for.
My team was super chill and the company had kind of a startup like feel to it. While I was there, I went to a few work happy hours, laughed alongside my coworkers who participated in karaoke at a stand-up comedy club, took part in many game days and received gift cards for my birthday. I also got to work from home sometimes, especially the last two months I was there. These were things I never got to do while working in TV.
The longest commute ever
The low pay meant I couldn’t move out of my parents’ house into an apartment closer to work, so I spent 2 to 3 hours every Monday through Friday (except for work from home days a couple times per month) in the car driving to and from my job. It was about 70 miles roundtrip, and Phoenix traffic (and drivers) are terrible, so it wasn’t my favorite way to spend part of my day. Fortunately, I had some good music to get me through it.
Buying my first car
My parents let me use their 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe my last 2 years of college when I moved off-campus so I could get to and from classes and other activities. I kept the car (which I named Alejandro, after the Lady Gaga song) when I moved to Tulsa to start my first job and then when I moved to Tucson, I officially took ownership of Alejandro by paying for registration and insurance.
Besides a couple of repair jobs costing me a few hundred dollars and usual maintenance, Alejandro was pretty hassle-free until this year. One morning on my way to work, soon after starting my new job, Alejandro would not accelerate above 25 mph as I was pulling away from a stoplight. I pulled over, called my mom and ended up driving back home and taking her car to work. Luckily, I wasn’t too far from home when this happened so I was able to get to work on time, but I was worried about having to pay for repairs.
Long story short, I decided it wasn’t worth it to keep a 10-year-old car with 130K miles on it because of the potential repair costs headed my way and I needed to look for a new car. Well, not new but new to me.
One Saturday in June, my dad and I headed out to test drive some cars and hopefully come home with one. I was looking for small hatchbacks that would get good gas mileage (see my long commute above) and picked out a few to test drive: the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and Toyota Prius C. I test drove the Fiesta, decided it wasn’t for me so we drove all the way to west Phoenix so I could see the Prius C and Fit.
I’ve wanted a Prius for a long time, so I was most excited about driving that one, especially since it was a pretty blue color. I ended up loving it so much that I didn’t even drive the Fit, and I ended up leaving with the 2015 Prius C (which I named Skye).
My dad was really helpful in the negotiations process and I got a pretty good deal on my new car. After 6 months of driving Skye, I’m still obsessed. I love that it has Bluetooth, climate control, a cool heads-up display and most of all, the gas mileage is incredible. I regularly get 50-60 or more MPG and it only costs me about $20 to fill up, which is half what I was paying to fill up Alejandro!
Getting in a serious car accident (not in my new car)
As I mentioned before, Phoenix drivers are awful. Like, there are news stories all the time about people driving the wrong way on the freeways or hitting pedestrians. So maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise that about 6 months after moving to Phoenix, I got into a car accident.
My parents and I were driving to Tempe to go out to dinner one Saturday in July. We were on one freeway and were about to get off to get on another freeway when suddenly, people were hitting their brakes. We were able to stop, but the driver two cars behind us did not. Our car got pushed across several lanes of traffic into the HOV lane, and we got hit on the side at least twice. It was the scariest moment of my life, and I was in such shock when we finally came to a stop that I was just crying. I am so thankful my parents and I weren’t hurt, but I guess a few people in some of the other vehicles involved had minor injuries.
We had to stand on the side of the freeway for more than an hour while police took down information, and then we got to ride in the back of a police SUV for a couple miles until they dropped us off at a gas station where we took an Uber home. It was not the night I had in mind, but I am really glad we were all okay, if a little shook up. My dad’s car was totaled, so he had to buy a new one, and the accident made me rethink driving to work on the freeways, so I started taking the side streets instead and it was much less stressful.
Trips I took
Not counting my interview in Vegas (since that was just for a day), I went on 4 trips this year: Denver, Sedona, Denver (again) and Bisbee. I’ve been to all these places at least once before, but it was nice to get out of town for a few days and explore.
I flew to Denver in May for my sister’s college graduation, and then again for Labor Day weekend. I grew up making day trips to Denver, so it was cool to actually get to see the city for more than just a few hours. Denver has a really great restaurant/drinking scene with plenty of vegan options and cute neighborhoods to walk around. We also went to Breckenridge one day, which brought back memories from my childhood going up there to see the rubber duck races every Labor Day weekend (though they didn’t actually do the races this year).
This was the second year in a row I traveled for my birthday, and I wanna make it a new tradition. Last year was San Diego, this year Sedona. Besides the hellish drive up there due to a horrible car accident, the three day weekend was wonderful. Sedona is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I would absolutely love to live there some day. In the short time we were there, we hiked among the red rocks, had fun at the natural water park aka Slide Rock State Park, enjoyed a birthday dinner at the most chill vegan spot, embarked on a guided trolley tour and explored the incredible Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village.
In late September, my parents and I drove down to Bisbee. My dad and I visited Bisbee for the first time in early 2017 and loved the town’s hippie-ish vibe. This time, we stayed for more than just the day and made a long weekend of it. We stayed in a really cute Airbnb and walked basically everywhere since Bisbee is really pedestrian-friendly. We ate some amazing food (including at a vegan spot in a cool alley that’s only open 4 days a week), checked out some art galleries, toured the Queen Mine and just soaked up the weirdness of the town.
Not getting to travel as much as I would have liked
Fun fact: I’ve never been out of the U.S. in my 26 years. Crazy, right? There are so many destinations I’m dying to go, both abroad and closer to home. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to do that this year, mostly due to finances and starting a new job where I didn’t have vacation time right away.
Next year, I plan to get my passport so I can hopefully at least go to Mexico since it’s so close. I would also love to visit my friend in Salt Lake City, spend a weekend in LA/Palm Springs (also so close), go to the Grand Canyon and maybe even Joshua Tree. I’m not planning any big trips due to my circumstances, but it would be great to see some places that are new to me.
Running more this year
I wasn’t born a natural athlete. I took dance classes throughout my childhood, and dabbled just a bit in soccer, karate and tennis (which I still like to play) but that was about it. I never competed in middle or high school sports and I honestly don’t consider myself much of a competitive person.
I started running in 2014 when I first moved to Tulsa. It was a way to help me cope with the life changes I was going through, it helped me explore my new city and I found I really enjoyed it. I started out with walk-run intervals and slowly progressed to running a few miles at a time without stopping. I also discovered trail running, which I wish I could do more of here, but there aren’t many suitable trails.
I’ve continued running regularly (read: 3 or more times per week) ever since, and I keep going back for the endorphins. By the time I moved to Tucson, I was routinely running 3 or 4 miles at a time (sometimes 5) and never getting tired of it.
When I moved to Phoenix, I was sad to leave behind my favorite running paths and trails in Tucson and I gotta be honest — the ones here just don’t compare. However, I do enjoy running around my neighborhood and since moving here, I’ve ramped up my running game. My sweet spot is still 4 miles, but I’ve run 7 miles twice (the most I’ve ever done) and I’ve run 5 miles more than ever before.
I’m still not sure I want to run a race (again, not a competitive person) but I love building my endurance and feeling that runner’s high.
Falling on my face during a run
Let’s face it — I’m a klutz. For some reason during my freshman year of college, I tripped while walking to and from classes an embarrassing number of times. Maybe it’s the way I walk, but I’m just prone to falling down.
Needless to say, I’ve eaten pavement more than my fair share of times since starting to run. Honestly, I don’t remember falling down much when I first started, but it’s become more common since I moved to Phoenix. Maybe because I switched to running on bumpy sidewalks and the street instead of the smooth paved trails in Tulsa and Tucson. Whatever the case may be, I have tripped a lot while running in the past year.
Most times, I scraped my knee pretty badly but I was still able to walk and run normally. That wasn’t the case during my November 12th run. I was working from home that day so I set out on a run around 7 am or so, planning to run 4 miles. About a mile in, I had just turned down a street when my foot caught something and I fell HARD. For some reason, I reacted slowly so my hands didn’t have time to catch me, and my face hit the asphalt. I stood up pretty quickly to assess the damage, and realized my forehead and nose were bleeding. Awesome. Also, my sunglasses broke but I didn’t care. I was shaken up so I decided to walk home, trying to minimize the bleeding. Fortunately, it was the day Veterans Day was observed, so not many people were out and no one saw me looking like I had gotten beaten up.
I got home, washed my wounds and started icing my head. I soon realized my knees were in pain, and not just because they were scraped. They had apparently taken the brunt of the fall (other than my face). Going up and down the stairs was extremely painful. I also thought I might have broken my nose, because it felt weird, but I think it was fine.
I took the rest of the week off from running, and was able to run again a week later. I still felt some pain in my right knee, but it was bearable enough to walk on. Now more than a month later, I feel a bit of pain if I turn my knee a certain way and it’s still a little numb to the touch (no idea why) but I’m basically 100%, which is great because I didn’t want to give up running because of my klutziness.
Getting laid off from my job
As I mentioned earlier, I loved almost everything about the job I started in May. So it came as a total shock when I found out in September that I was getting laid off. It was due to the company restructuring, so they basically eliminated almost everyone’s position, so at least I knew it wasn’t due to my performance. But it was still a blow, especially since I had just started working there a few months earlier.
I had to start the job search process all over again, which was frustrating. Probably the worst part was watching coworkers find new positions right away, while I was still sending out applications and going to interviews. Job searching is not fun, and I wasn’t ready to do it again so soon after stopping.
By my last day on November 16th, I still had nothing lined up, and I was freaking out. I was glad I was living with my parents so I had a financial safety net, but I worried that not finding a job soon would hurt my career potential. And even the people on my team who had less experience than me (even one who started working there a couple weeks after me) had landed new positions, which had me seriously questioning my skills and even my worthiness as a human being. Not a great mental state to be in, especially so close to the holidays.
Finding a new job I love
A week after Thanksgiving, I went on an interview that I figured would be just like the others I had already been through, and end in rejection. I never really know how to feel about how I did after an interview is over, and this one was no different. So I was definitely surprised when I got a call less than a week later offering me the position! I was thrilled, and said yes.
Because the job is with a school district, it was contingent on a pretty extensive background check, which came back clear so I was good to start working before they went on winter break. I attended a brief orientation, and started work the following Monday. My first week was mostly training, but I got to dip my toes in and start posting updates on the district’s social media (since I’m their social media specialist).
I don’t work again until January 7th, but after just a week, I’m already very excited for my new role. The one downside is that it’s a part-time position so I’m trying to line up a side hustle to make some more $$$ but the hourly pay rate is better than any other job I’ve had before, the commute is a little shorter and there’s so much potential for growth, plus I get all the district holidays off (2 weeks for winter break, a week for spring break, a few days for Thanksgiving) which is way better than my previous jobs’ PTO policies. I’m definitely excited for what’s to come in 2019!
What are some of your highs and lows from 2018? What are you most looking forward to in 2019?