2011 Highlights and Low-lights

At the beginning of 2011, I came to a decision. Whenever I got an idea (as long as it was feasible), I was going to execute that idea. No over-thinking, no putting it on the back-burner for another day, I’d make the time to do it. Because of that decision I started blogging about books, I revamped this website and bought my domain (shanella.com), I started another tumblr, I blogged every day in April. I went pro on Flickr, I stopped saying that I’d go to Arizona and actually went, I visited DC, I attended the BEA as a Blogger (cheers!!), I attended multiple book signings, and viewed multiple plays.

I did a lot of things that I found satisfying, and a few things that were not so successful (like that expensive gym membership to go swimming and only swimming once!). But, I learned an important lesson … I’ll never get anywhere if I just sit and talk. I have to get up and do. So, I did. I also learned that failure isn’t the end of the worldI feel like I accomplished something, whereas, in 2010, I wasn’t sure what I was doing, why I was doing it and who I was doing it with!

I’ve come up with a couple of highlights and not-so-great-lights for 2011. Let’s start with the meh.

A Short List of Not-So-Great Endeavors and Experiences

Dating: I don’t talk a lot about dating on here, because I don’t date! I don’t like the act of meeting new people, it’s scary and I feel awkward. I’m not a fan of small talk; I don’t really know what to say when it comes to small talk because people have varying levels of privacy and I never know if I am asking the right questions. It’s a muddle, it’s stressful, I dislike it. Of course, I have some social skills, so it works out somehow, but when I get home, I’m so exhausted that I hole myself up in my room and watch Hulu until I fall asleep.

So, when 2011 was dubbed “dating heaven” (don’t ask, I won’t tell) I decided to go out on a limb and try online dating. I mean, meeting new people on a computer, that wouldn’t be awkward at all now, would it? *nods* Let’s just say, that will never happen again. I’d rather go through the awkwardness of meeting a person in real life than meeting them over the tubes. Though, I have to wonder if I have a tendency for self-ambush, especially since I noticed that I only hang out with guys who I know would never ask me out. Maybe that will change in 2012. Or maybe I’ll just go home and watch Hulu/Netflix until I fall asleep. 😉

Working: Whenever someone asks me “What’s new?” I never know what to say, my life seems to consist of working and being at home and the occasional hanging out. So, in the middle of the year, when asked this question, I didn’t know what to say that wouldn’t sound like complaining or ranting. I wouldn’t get into it, but in June/July, the situation moved from meh to stifling.

Steve: Not only do I have a tendency to ambush myself. I do not have a tendency for self-preservation, something that came to the surface again after my encounter with Steve. I wouldn’t go into details here (the link says it all) but that was not something I want to experience ever again. Even now, months later, when I think of it, I just feel numb. I’m not sure what this means other than, men can sometimes be creepy. This was probably the worse experience of 2011.

hey, look! A cute dog with a monocle

Moving on to the great things in 2011! *confetti*

A Not-So-Short List of Exceptional Experiences

A New Job!: By the end of summer, I had enough. So, I decided to do what I promised myself I’d do at the beginning of the year. Take action. I made a career change. Going on my love for books and bookish things, I decided to try the publishing industry. I did something else that I hadn’t done before, I networked.

It’s been three months since I started working at my new job, I’m so happy to be where I am right now. It’s not what I would have imagined doing while completing a Computer Science degree at university, but it is something that I enjoy, in a place I enjoy, with the company of people I enjoy and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Les Misérables: I saw a few good plays this year, but the best experience had to be Les Mis. At the beginning of the year, I bought the soundtrack and listened to it on repeat for a while. Then, wanting to see the play I did a bit of research. I had two options, go to London and see the play, or find a touring group. Luckily for me, there was a group touring the US and in October they were going to be at the Kennedy Center in DC. After asking a bunch of people, I found three others who were interested in seeing the play and we took a trip to DC. It was a wonderful experience. I don’t know how to explain it, but I was so invested in seeing this play that I was tearing up through the entire thing. I had done it, I had realized a dream and it was beautiful.

Harry Potter: Call me a fanatic, call me whatever. I will not deny that the elements in the books were not original, but you cannot say that the imagination and execution were nothing short of brilliant. That is why Harry Potter is so successful. I got the chance to attend the midnight release of the last film, but the best Harry Potter experience this year was visiting the recently opened Harry Potter section at Universal Studios, Florida. It amazes me, that someone’s imagination can be realized, not just through movie magic, but in form of a theme park. I really enjoy living in this century 🙂

Jimmy Fallon: I got the chance to attend a live taping of Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night with Jimmy, show. I’ve always admired Jimmy’s ability to be comfortable in his dorkiness, it actually works in his favor, so, I was very happy for the opportunity to attend and be in the front row at one of his tapings this year.

Bookish Year: I think 2011 was the year I came out of the library as a bookworm. A few days ago, while cooking for Christmas breakfast, my mom was commenting on the fact that I had dubbed my sister my sous-chef and had her washing the dishes and whisking eggs while I prepped. She made a comment that her older sisters use to have her do the same things but that she preferred to be in a corner reading. She also said that, when my grandma stayed by us during the births of my siblings, she’d do my chores so I could go and read if I wanted to. Yes, this is a tangent, but it’s my blog and I can go off on tangents if I want to.

In 2011, I started my book blog ireviewbooks, its companion, a twitter account, and joined a few bookish sites. I attended a lot of book signings, went to Book Expo America and read and reviewed a TON of books. I had a vision for my blog that has been tweaked and has grown and I’m very pleased at the direction it’s headed in. In 2012, I’m hoping to write a bit more and have some original pieces online, to read 10% more books (current count is 68). I also have a Jane Austen project in mind, in time I’ll see how that unfolds.

Friendships: In 2010, I decided to try to expand my “friend circle”, to be more than just friendly but to be friends with more people and make an effort to include others in my “circle”. Those who know me well, know how big a task this was. If I was honest, it  was mostly a failure. It put a strain on the friendships that I already had, to the point where I wasn’t able to handle it anymore, so I threw my hands up in the air and said, “whatever”.

In 2011, I became more selective, and I feel better. I was able to mend the strained relationships from before, to spend quality time with people who were actually interested in spending quality time with me and well, it was just a better year, friendship-wise. I formed better, more meaningful friendships and I didn’t feel thinly spread. The thing is, I had to realize that what I did before – being selective – isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are people who I will click with regardless of similarities or differences and then there are people who could be just like me but we don’t click at all, and it’s OK, not clicking, it’s OK to just be friendly. At the end of the year, as I think back on the relationships I’ve had this year and the fun times we’ve shared I have to admit, I know a lot of lovely people, and I have some of the greatest friends.

What I get when I Google Image Search "boo"

So what am I looking forward to in 2012?

Well, maybe trips to Prague and New Orleans. Maybe another round at BEA. Definitely more bookish things, but what I’m really looking forward to is keeping the momentum that has been built up in 2011. To dream dreams, to have desires, to live in a way that my life can be meaningful.

I give thanks for 2011, for the good and the bad, because they have shaped my year and made me who I am today. I don’t know what will happen in 2012, but whatever happens, may God’s will be done.

2 thoughts on “2011 Highlights and Low-lights

  1. Good reflection. I just started mine, by doing the highlights. I have to do my complete review.

    I am really sorry for what happened to you with Steve.

    For someone who has had similar experiences, I know how horrible and terrified you must have felt.

    God bless you,


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