Happy Making: the Year in Review

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It is December 30th, my oldest brother's 30th birthday, and the second to last day of 2012. I'm not a fan of Year in Review posts, typically because mine usually end up being general and weighted toward things that are happening at the moment in my life, as distance from my exposure to a certain event or thing tends to make me forget about (I'm told this is perfectly normal). As a result, however, thought exercises like Year in Review posts require a lot more work than I'm usually willing to give them in the midst of holidays.

But, what I can talk about is this stuff that made me happy in 2012. It was a year of ups and downs - mostly downs, sadly enough - for me, but there were some pretty great highs that are worth reminding myself of.

In March, I drove to Grand Rapids and got to have lunch with Rachel Held Evans. Since then, I've guested on her blog in the Ask a Feminist post, and got to meet with her and many other bloggers at STORY here in Chicago in September.

In August, I signed a contract with an agent for one book and possibly more, in an exciting launch into a career I always dreamed about - seriously, while y'all were dreaming of going to the moon and being great basketball players or doctors, I was pretending to type the next great American novel on a box in my room. Stepping toward the fulfillment of a dream is pretty nice.

I settled more into living in the Chicago area, moved to a wonderful new area (one that gives me significantly less anxiety), drove in the city for the first time (and multiple times since!*), and saw more of the city than ever before. And I still have a lot more of it to see!

In November, I got to go back to England for the first time in nearly six years. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't nearly cry with joy when the plane touched down in London. Seeing Oxford again after five years without, and realizing it was essentially the same was a huge boost for my general happiness and made my year. I also got to see my friend Jonathan, who is now a scholar-in-residence at The Kilns (CS Lewis' house in Oxford) and instead of being awkward and having nothing to talk about, we talked for a good three hours and probably could have kept going had it not been for me having an early morning the next day.

On that trip, I also had the exciting and yet terrifying experience of the tires of the Boeing 747 exploding upon landing in Amsterdam. For those of you who didn't hear the story, the landing gear on my jet locked up at a perpendicular angle to the plane (it was down, but not sideways on the ground). The friction caused the tires to explode, and we were extremely lucky that it was the middle tires on the jet - otherwise we would have crashed completely. As it was, we were simply trapped on the plane for an hour and a half longer than we would have been, and I missed my connecting flight to London.

Now, that could be considered a lowlight of the year, but I count it as a highlight for this simple reason: it taught me that my anxiety is not the master of me. Being trapped, unable to move or leave my seat on a plane that's just sitting on a runway is a good way to cause me to have a panic attack. But I was fine, and I realized that the anxiety that had plagued me for years could be overcome. Its irrationality can be conquered. And that gives me a lot of hope going into 2013.

Tomorrow, I'll do a post of things I'm looking forward to in 2013, but for now, I want y'all to take a look at your year in review: what did you learn about yourself? What changes did you make? And, most importantly, what made you happy?

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*This is a big deal for me, as much of my anxiety is triggered around claustrophobic traffic situations.