Reflecting On My 22nd Year

TWENTY-TWO was a year of change, both small, big, bad and good. I want to take a moment and highlight 21 of those life events and use my 22nd number to share my hopes and dreams for my 23rd.

1) Faith, believing in something bigger than myself

It should not be a surprise to you that I believe in God. After all, this blog was created based on a verse found in Ecclesiastes. Do I blog about God every single time? No. Do I read the Bible every single day? No. Do I mention God in my blog posts? Yes, sometimes.

This past year, like any other year, it seems as my faith is an ongoing roller coaster ride. In the early days of being 22, I struggled to believe that God has a plan for my life. I went to church, then, didn’t go to church. I wanted to make friends with like-minded people, I talked crap about those like-minded people. It doesn’t sound like a true Christian, huh? But, what does it take to be a true Christian? From what I know, one of the many things about being Christian does not involve PERFECTIONISM and I excel at being imperfect. 

Eventually, I found myself struggling with my relationships, school, identity, you name it. It took awhile, but I somehow came to my senses, attempted, and sometimes forced myself to believe in something bigger than myself. I found myself reading the Bible on my phone on a daily, treated it like a Snapchat streak, developed genuine relationships with friends old and new and felt more comfortable discussing God with others. Overall, I feel that my faith in my 22nd year was challenging, yet more fruitful than my previous years.

2) Mindfulness

I don’t think I would be practicing “mindfulness” if I didn’t find myself paying for a 1 credit hour class of mindful meditation to reach my minimum credit hours for the semester. I treated this class like any basket-weaving class as if my life will never depend on it, then I was wrong. Practicing mindfulness has helped me become more in tune with everything that is around me. It helped me take things without judgment which is often so hard to do. It relieved stress and anxiety as long as I kept up with it. It helped me feel more neutral and calmer.

3) Friendships

I know we are talking about my 22nd year of life, but I think it’s important to give you a little background. On my 21st birthday, I promised myself to choose my friends wisely. That promise carried on to my 22nd birthday and let me tell you, I’m coming out of it more confused about my “friends” than ever before. 22 was a hard year when it comes to friendships. I didn’t quite know who to trust, who to share my struggles with and who my friends really were. Granted, they probably feel the same way with me.

Friendships are something I was really intentional with and with my standards, I wanted a friend who I can talk to, who will talk sense into my life without holding back, and I craved raw, genuine relationships. I really thought I had that, but I guess I was wrong. To say the least, friendships on my 22nd year had a rocky patch. 

4) Education

If you ever followed my many versions of my old blog, dianneblogs (which is dead now), I mentioned struggling in school way more times than anything else. I was on a Computer Science route and man, did my GPA take a dive, never below a 3.0, but as someone who used to excel so much in school, my GPA was a big, fat disappointment. I disappointed myself more times than I ever disappointed my parents and my mentor(s). 

Spring of 2017, I almost dropped out.

Fall of 2017, I actually did so good for the first time since I started college.

Then, a big life change (which I will discuss next) happened and it forced me to look into another school that is more flexible, but still offered the accreditation I was looking for. I switched my major from Computer Science and started my degree in Computer Networks and Cybersecurity in the Spring of 2018 and I made a 4.0 GPA for the semester.

In retrospect, I always said Computer Science was hard and it was, that’s why I was on a 5 year degree plan, but I would have to consider Spring of 2018 to be the hardest semester EVER thus far because there’s really nothing easy about 13 credit hours of cybersecurity to be finished in just 8 weeks, all the while planning a move (not across state lines, but the freaking Atlantic), and a  wedding which takes me to…

5) Getting engaged on New Year's Eve

George and I talked about marriage throughout our relationship. It was probably one of the first things we discussed. We just wanted to make sure that we were both on the same page: Dating with the intention of marriage. When I turned 22, we just passed our first year of dating, but in that time our friends were all of a sudden engaged, having babies and it was only natural to be slightly envious about it. However, we never saw the point of being in a hurry, so we weren't planning on going down the marriage route yet.

At the end of November, George received a new assignment to be stationed in Italy. Y’all, I’ve never felt so nervous in my life. We had three choices: break up, try long distance or get married. We both wanted to be together and thus, the latter happened. He proposed at a park he took me to the first time I visited Kansas. He proposed in below freezing weather that we literally kissed briefly after he put a ring on it and sprinted back to the car.

6) An untraditional wedding

Truth be told, we were only engaged for 12 days and on the 13th day, we tied the knot. As most of you may know though, we also got married again (for show) in March. Looking back, I probably would have just stuck with the backyard wedding with 5 people, instead of 7 times more. The official day, which is January 13, was the sweetest and most intimate day in my life. I made a blog post about that day and you can read it >>here<<. 

7) This blog

There’s something about sharing my life with others. I truly enjoy taking my life experiences and sharing it with the world, both online and in person. People’s stories are so interesting, insightful and sometimes, helpful. Before We For Three was born, I had my own blog called Dianneblogs. I was torn between using WP, Wix, and Squarespace and with my background in Computer Science, I built one from scratch and used none of those. As much as I loved it, I wasn’t nearly in love with it. On our wedding day, We For Three was born. I’m so glad rebranded and convinced my husband to be on board the blog train. I never would have imagined that by birthing this bebeh on the interwebs, I would have something to do in my first few months in Italy. 

8) Moving out of the nest

In between numbers 1-7, I finally moved out of my parents’ house. There was never an issue living with my parents while in college. I had the upstairs to myself and they were never on my case about anything. They simply treated me like a “roommate” who comes and goes. I love them, y’all. I am so blessed. But, it was time. and so I moved out.

Where and with who? I moved to an apartment just 7 minutes away from my parents for numerous reasons… the area was safe, the rent was affordable between two people and let’s face it, I could just drive, visit and use their tide pods and microwave.

AND... I moved in with my boyfriend then, husband now. Yep, my first roommate ever was my husband. Frowned upon by my grandparents, but they’ve come to learn how we do these things as millennials. 

9) Internship

I had my internship for what seems like a lifetime. If I had a choice, I would be an intern forever because if I actually worked full-time, I made just a little bit less than a full-time Computer Scientist with a Bachelor’s degree. Yeah, it was that good. But with all the life change, this was one I had to give up.

It’s only been a few weeks since I out-processed, but I can’t help but feel sad about giving up this one. It took so much to stay at my internship and honestly, if it weren’t for it… I probably would have dropped out of college by now. Now I know what you’re thinking, I probably will drop out now that I don’t have it, but no, I’m not going to. 

10) Social Media

So, on my 22nd year, I really wanted to decrease my posting in social media. I had to think about my future and what employers will be looking at later on. I mainly used social media to interact with other bloggers on Facebook Groups or our blog Instagram account. I mainly used my personal Facebook to share pictures of live events with friends and family. But instead of explaining that, I think stats above would give you an idea. 

11) Switching from an iPhone to a Google Pixel 2

Up until January of 2018, I was a die-hard Apple fan. I own 2 MacBook Airs and gave one of those to my hubby, an iPad mini, a regular sized iPad with an Apple Pencil and an iPhone. I know, technology overload. What can I say, I appreciate tech. However, when Apple decided to spit out not one, but two phones at once… the probability of my iPhone surviving the next few months was low. My battery was dying almost instantly, it was basically useless. Don’t even get me started with the price of the new iPhones. So, I decided to switch to a Google Pixel 2 and never looked back.

P.S. Best decision ever.

12) Patience

To be freaking honest with you, I still struggle with this. I’m such a “get it done” personality that when I have to wait, it ruins my entire day. I really need to work on this. I have before and it is definitely a trait that needs to be trained all day long, 365 days and probably for the rest of my life.

13) Attitude

I think this can go hand in hand with #12, but I figured to dedicate a separate number for it because... I can. For the most part, my attitude has shifted. I still have my sassy days, my grumpy days, and my super down days… but, at the same time, I’ve learned to choose my battles this year. I don’t always choose the right one, but at least I’m not wasting so much time and sending out negative vibes all the time. Also, having friends like my best friend, Em (she has lupus, so if you could include her in your prayers, I would appreciate it so much!), helps me become more humble and grateful for all that I have.

14) Anxiety

Don’t you feel like these past few numbers are going on a downhill slope? Yeah, me too. Anxiety. I swear, I’m going to kick its butt. As mentioned earlier, I learned “mindfulness” and I learned mainly because of anxiety. I was fearless for awhile in my life and all of a sudden, that shifted drastically. I struggled and still struggle with anxiety.

I don’t exactly know how to explain it, other than it makes my life a living hell sometimes. It makes me nervous, it tightens my shoulder and neck muscles, I forget to breathe, I get headaches and I’m always stressed. This year was definitely so bad that it's caused me to grind my teeth at night resulting in TMJ (locked jaws). I honestly don't know why I stress over things that really don't deserve the extra effort I give out of stressing. 

15) H2O

I am proud to say, that I’ve cut back on my sodas but not my coffees and I usually prefer water than anything else. I do, however, still treat myself to some tea once in awhile. Wanting H2O basically started when I finally noticed that my bills at restaurants were too high, for too little. I basically got annoyed with that and resorted to H2O every time. Have you ever had orange infused H2O? SO GOOD!

16) Alcohol

I am proud to say that… after I turned 21, I actually only drink alcohol occasionally.  I mean, unless you hand me a good bottle of wine, then that’s probably gone in like a day or two, maybe. Wine is good, it’s just fermented grapes. I also Asian glow (turn red instantly) when I drink because I'm technically allergic to alcohol, so that helped me not drink as much as I used to. 

17) Loving Others (is still a challenge)

Ooh, this one is a hard one. Thankfully, I married probably the nicest person you will ever meet. Loving others have been a work in progress (I’m convinced, I am George’s little project for this). I have to say though that loving others is still a challenge, but the more I read the Bible, the less I think about myself, the more I think of others. Also, it does help to have a husband who ALWAYS keeps me in check. Like, ALWAYS. I told you, I’m his little project. 

18) Moving to Italy and yes, the country

Bet you didn’t see that coming. Yep, after all of the change mentioned, this is definitely one of the biggest and most challenging. But, it’s also icing on top of the cake and I did it with my husband.

As you all may know, my husband, George, is in the Air Force. Before we were ever serious (dating days) I told George my plan to finish college and move to Seattle to pursue my Master’s. I told him that if he wants to stay with me, he would have to follow me (I'm really hard-headed).

But, God had other plans and you know what? This is better than the plan I had. Don’t get me wrong, going to grad school and getting a degree is awesome, but I have a lifetime to do that! Getting to live and visit places people only vacation to once or twice in their lifetime, now that’s an experience, an adventure, and a story to tell. 

19) Travel

Now, you knew this was next. In 2017, I was able to visit a few more military installations. I kind of made it a goal to visit as much as I could before I lost my ID to enter bases since 2016 (I didn’t know I was going to keep it until George proposed). I was also able to visit my family in Portland, Oregon and my sister in Tega Cay, South Carolina. Now, I’ve got Europe under my feet and before I turn 23, I officially am here, in Italy and indeed explored Venice.

20) Overcoming Challenges

To me, challenges have shaped me more than I give it credit. There has been a lot of challenges in the background that is not shared on the blog. Like many of you, finding out someone has this, this, or that, is probably the hardest thing in the world. At the same time, I came out okay from my 22nd year and I believe you can, too. 

21) Learning to drive stick shift in Italy

Well, well, well… guess who learned to drive standard 2 days before she turns 23? This gal! My husband and I have been struggling (real talk) getting around in Italy since our car is still on an ocean vessel on its way to Germany. We moved to an amazing country, but not necessarily the easiest base. Actually, its a really difficult base to transition into. Within our first 7 days, we sat at a newcomers briefing for two days, studied and took our driver’s license test and waited to get our licenses.

For about a week and a half, we walked to the grocery store and carried our groceries back to our temporary lodging facility (TLF), the other day, I walked to the housing office to submit some paperwork and seriously! on my way back, I was drenched in rain. 

Personally, I have been stuck in housing and the cabin fever is SO REAL. On top of that, I've got no friends either. I told you, lots of things in the background you don't know about unless I decide to be dramatic about it and share it on our Instagram stories! Back to real talk, we also found out that Italians don't really drive automatics (because it's more expensive) and the majority of the cars we looked at to buy have a manual transmissions and I've never driven standard before.

SO, this gal learned from an Italian in our Italian made 2007 Fiat Punto Grande. You guys, I am so proud and I feel like it's a talent lol. So here he is, meet our “beater” car, Blu. He is a 2007 Fiat Punto Grande and he is able to fit in narrow roads and only has 45k miles! We bought him for 3,250 euros which is a little shy of $3,900. He’s great!

22) Plans for my 23rd year

YOU GUYS. I am so blessed. I've lived such an interesting, complicated, full of stories to share kind of life these past 22 years, granted I don't remember things I did from 1-3 y/o. My 22nd was definitely challenging, which I can always talk crap about, but at the same time has helped shape me to become a little bit more of a well-rounded person. So, for my 23rd, I want to become a better version of who I was at 22 and I'm going to start off this list (which I'll probably have a dedicated post about that I can update later). 

  • Continue working on my degree in computer networks and cybersecurity.
  • Put God first, always and my husband second, always.
  • Start a gratitude journal.
  • Do a 1 second everyday video to share on the eve of my 24th birthday in 2019.
  • Learn to actually dress cute and not boring.
  • Make our new house a home and make it comfortable.
  • Save for a house.
  • Find a new job.
  • Learn to cook different meals. 
  • Learn Italian.
  • Host family and friends in our home when they visit.
  • Make friends.
  • Be nice.
  • Blog more.
  • Volunteer.
  • Do something creative.
  • Pick up photography again.
  • Read ONE book a month.
  • Travel to: Croatia, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Iceland (as long as resources allow)
  • Visit Italy's treasures: Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples, Cinque Terre!
  • Drink more water.
  • Get a workout regimen going.
  • Eat healthier
  • Tell people "I love you" more often and mean it. 

NOTE TO SELF:

Happy birthday, Chana. Make this year a great one. Be nice, but don't put up with anyone's crap. Be honest and always lend a helping hand to those in need. Get off your high horse and ask for help if you need it, too. Always remember that if there's anyone's opinion that matters most, look above, not beside or in front or in the back of you. You've got this, girl. Make every second of it WORTH IT.