Welcome to another year in review! This is a (very self-indulgent) tradition I’ve been doing since 2017. You can read past installments here:
I’m a bit late this year. It’s still what could be considered the “beginning of the year,” but let’s be real—you’ve probably already made your New Year’s resolutions. Maybe even broken them. But me? I haven’t broken a single one!
Because I’ve, uh, been trying to decide what they are. ?
But more on that later. First, let’s start with a little recap of all the incredible intentions I set in for 2021, and how those played out. (Spoiler: They didn’t.)
Here are some choice excerpts from last year’s year in review:
Expectation: “I’m now a freelance editor working for a few companies. It fulfills exactly what I was hoping for. And while editing is a skill I’m still exceedingly slow at, I feel like I finally have a job that utilizes both my writing and coaching experience, and it’s something I can do long-term.”
Reality: I quit editing after a few months because I couldn’t get fast enough, which meant the pay was abysmal.
Expectation: “I want to focus more on creating content for you folks. Especially video.”
Reality: I published exactly 4 videos, and my weekly newsletter became… er, quarterly.
Expectation: “While I know obsessing over control is a natural stress response for me and will probably rear its ugly head again in the future, I honestly feel grateful to have experienced it and learned how to overcome it. It’s still a daily challenge to break some habits, but I’m getting there.”
(…This meme made more sense in my head.)
Last year, I realized that some issues in my life stemmed from some anxiety-induced control tendencies. This was valuable to learn. But surprise surprise—recognizing a problem doesn’t automatically solve it! Who knew.
I’m now getting real-ass therapy. Highly recommend.
And now favorite, about good ol’ corona:
Expectation: “It’s finally happening. There’s an end in sight.”
What actually happened in 2021
So, some expectations didn’t quite pan out. Instead, 2021 was a year of extreme contrast:
- Going from the sunny Southwest to the freezing tundra of South Dakota in February to say goodbye to my grandma. (We went back in June for her memorial, which become a huge family reunion and was a really lovely get-together in celebration of someone dear to us.)
- Spending the first half of the year feeling increasingly trapped and depressed, then breaking free in a frenzy when Rick and I were finally immunized in April. (I went to 10 different stores I’d been needing to visit for months, and then ran off to get second piercings in my ears—something I’d been wanting all through isolation. And then I removed them in a week later in a fit of anxiety because they felt so weird ?)
- Moving from a house we were eager to leave to a house that I still can’t believe is ours.
- Going from not-pregnant to pregnant.
- Getting a job. Loving it. Realizing I needed to quit it. (Primarily due to the previous two bullets.)
- My husband starting the year with two mostly-functioning legs, and ending it with far-less-than-functional legs. (Dual knee injuries exacerbated during the move. He’s now queued for surgery, and we have a long recovery journey ahead.)
But of course, a year isn’t just the big things. There were some little moments that will stick with me for a long while.
Like the weekend I visited my sister (still in my freshly-vaxxed euphoria) and had my first night out in… a long time. We drank cocktails, played darts, and swing danced with friends and strangers to eardrum-blowing music. Which is still one of my favorite things in the world to do.
Or the deep conversations I got to have with my brother, where we realized we have much more in common than we’d ever let on.
Or the fact that I actually got to see some real, human friends, in person, multiple times. As delta kicked up and now omicron, those get-togethers have become fewer and even more precious.
I also tried streaming on Twitch for the first time. Which I actually really enjoyed.
So, what have we learned?
That I am terrible at guessing what the future will actually hold.
I shall now refrain from telling you ANY of my hopes for the new year, and instead tell you what I’m excited about right this very second—which is subject to change even between my writing this and posting it. Trust nothing.
What I’m currently excited for, at this very moment, now:
Excited… and apprehensive. I am so grateful to be done with the first trimester (the tired sad times) and into the second one (the happy awake times). But I am nervous about the third trimester (the gigantic times) and that fateful day that will come after (the big scary time).
Oh, and the days after that, I guess. You know, when I’ll have a tiny human to keep alive.
(Still can’t quite imagine that part.)
Learning Blender 3D
A few weeks ago, I was looking over Rick’s shoulder as he was playing a video game. In the game, you play as a programmer working for several startups, using programming logic to create solutions for each company while ultimately trying to create an AI to talk to your cat. (It’s called while True: learn(), and that is literally all I know about it.)
But when I tell you that as I watched him, I could feel a lightbulb go off, a quiet part of my brain suddenly lighting up—
“I wish I could do something like that in the real world,” I told him. Not the programming part, I clarified. But seeing a dashboard of assets that you created and now manage, that you continue improving. That feels like what my brain is built for.
Through chatting, he ended up bringing up a tool called Blender 3D. It’s a free software for 3D modeling and animation that’s often used in indie games, and it’s a great gateway to some of the bigger animation programs. And since my husband’s degree is actually in video game design, he was able to give me a lot of perspective into how that kind of skill could be leveraged into the asset-management career that sounds so enticing.
I’m not sure exactly where I’m taking this. But I’m really excited to learn it and see what happens. And the modeling process is just the right kind of challenging. Look, I made a carrot:
Art & streaming on Twitch
Live Jessie is (almost) back.
Some of you have joined me for Facebook Live events in the past to learn about writing and online business. Now, I’m going live on Twitch (a live-streaming platform, if you’re not familiar) instead—but with a much more cozy & casual vibe.
And with a very different focus: Art!
I’ve begun streaming a few days a week as I indulge in a rekindled love for digital drawing. I’m still getting used to the platform, but I hope to share a link once I feel a bit more comfortable.
In the meantime, here’s a peek at a few pieces I’ve been working on lately:
I’ve been feeling a drive to create some little vlogs about this time in my life as I continue turning our disheveled house into a home, explore new directions, and prepare for a big life change. I love watching vlogs from other artists on YouTube while taking my lunch break or winding down at night, and it feels like there’s so much happening in my life right now that I want to capture.
Changing my approach
Some of you who’ve been around a while know that while my current website is geared toward my work as a writer and writing educator, I’ve been flirting with other career paths for a long while.
A few years back, I set a goal to become a ~professional artiste~ through sheer effort. I set impossible standards of how long I had to spend drawing every day to grow my skills to what I deemed an acceptable standard. Unsurprisingly, I lost interest quickly.
I’ve also been pretty visible with my love for costumes and cosplay via my YouTube channel, though that too fell into silence. The reason was two-fold: One, life got busy. And two, I couldn’t settle on what kind of channel I wanted to create. I have so many thoughts, so many interests—and I couldn’t imagine a channel where all of those things fit.
The theme here is that I’ve struggled to do anything that I don’t have fully planned out. I always want to see the destination so I know that the journey will be worth it.
…Without ever considering that the journey is the whole point!
I think this year is going to a forced lesson in chilling the F out—of following what feels light, and what feels doable, and leaving behind any feelings of inadequacy or perfectionism. I’ve been trying to stay in that space of exploration without expectation. This mentality has already allowed me to grow more in my knowledge of what I enjoy—and spend more time actually doing it—than ever before.
Of course, this may very well change the direction of my content. That’s something I’ve been terrified of for a long time. I’ve worked so long to build a name in the writing and online business space. Am I really willing to pivot away from that when I’m not even sure where I’m going?
I think I am. I think I have to. I’ll keep you posted.
With that, here’s to 2022
We’re keeping excitement high and expectations low!
We’re trying to live in the present and embrace each moment for what it is!
We’re taking the time to learn what makes us happy, instead of what we think people expect of us!
Thank you for reading. Whether you’re new ’round these parts or a familiar face, I’m seriously touched that you’re here. And I hope this year treats you well.