Thanks, 2017.

Usually I take some time on New Year's Eve to reflect on the past 364 days of my life, but this year I'll be busy with a seventeen hour work day. So I'm getting it out of the way early this year.

2017 was a weird year. I almost feel... wrong(?) admitting that this year was a good one, with that it was a really hateful and conflict-heavy year for America, and I guess society in general. All of that aside, this year was a really special year for me. 

This year began in Chicago, which was a first. I only stayed home for two of my six weeks of winter break, so for the first time ever I had an entire month in the city to enjoy without having to be responsible for much of anything. I rang in the new year with my friend Amanda, who became a really big part of my life this year. 

January marked the beginning of my final internship, and the one I had specifically set out to do when I moved to Chicago in the first place - The Windish Agency. While I was there, they officially became Paradigm and it was easily my favorite internship I'd had the pleasure of doing (I did like, seven?) 

In February I got to go home to surprise my mom for her 50th birthday. It took a gross megabus and a bunch of frequent flyer miles to get there, but it was worth it when we surprised her with a party with her friends and neighbors at Bravo. 

March took me back down to SXSW for the second year in a row, where I helped put on a showcase and snuck into bars to watch my friends play 21+ shows. Aaaaand I got offered my first post-grad job-- my gig as the Accounting Assistant on Warped Tour 2017! Nothing could bring me down (not even a flight fiasco, missed connector & a luggage delay) as I headed back to Texas a week later to work So What?! Music Festival's 10th Year Anniversary with some of my favorite humans, Rebecca of I The Victor, Hannah Hines & Andrew D'Angelo. 

When I got back to Chicago, my time in college was starting to come to an end and April became my "I have to do everything I can possibly do in Chicago before it's time for me to leave forever!" month, and I finally crossed off #2 on my Chi-Town Bucket List: the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. I'm a huge believer in symbolism and signs, and when I moved there in the first place there was no way I was going to get on that dang wheel. I was terrified of heights, and amusement park rides, and I was claustrophobic. I was also an eighteen year old kid moving to a big ole city by herself, living on her own for the first time. By the time I finally faced my fear of riding the wheel, I was a twenty year old adult about to graduate college with a lot more life experience under my belt. Facing my fears that day showed me that I was ready to take on the world, as silly as it might sound. But I really was. And I still am.

May was bittersweet and I moved back home to Pittsburgh. But before that, I graduated college as an Honors Student with a 3.65 GPA, an entire year early! I put an important symbol on my grad cap- the Nothing But Thieves circle. I found their music my freshman year and it became a staple for me the whole way through. But again, as a huge believer in symbols and signs, the circle is never ending and symbolizes timelessness. Graduation was the beginning and the possibilities afterward still are endless. And as the circle is also a symbol of forever, the figure on my cap represented that I had chosen a path that I want to follow forever.

In June, I finally turned 21 and finally didn't feel like a baby among all of the rest of my friends. A week after my big birthday, I flew out to Seattle to start the tour I'd always dreamed of doing and made the most amazing friends along the way. I am so fortunate to have had Jen as a mentor over the summer, glad I could bug Amanda and Kyle and Steph and Casey and Kellie and many more every single day, and thankful for Nickelback's gift of front row seats on that one day off in St. Louis. 

Coming home from Warped Tour, I was the lowest I'd been in a long time. Post-tour depression is real, and so is post-grad depression. And getting both at the same time was a gnarly mix of garbage. But I'm grateful for the low point because it really taught me to take a step back and evaluate what was important to me. I applied for a couple jobs and started working for CBS Radio (and now I work for a station I grew up listening to) and at Stage AE (my favorite venue in Pittsburgh and one where I used to attend shows all through high school). I started learning that it's okay to not have everything figured out. It's okay to come off a tour and have no idea what's next. It's okay to graduate and not get a full time job right away. There is not a correct path that must be taken, and that as long as I continue to work hard and put myself out there, everything will work out.

For about two months I worked nonstop, trying to juggle three jobs and also traveling about once a month. Loads of friends came in for Four Chord Music Festival (shoutout to Monique, my super cool future roommate), then I went back to Chicago for Riot Fest and a Fall Out Boy hometown show at House of Blues, and then I got to go to Philadelphia to see Harry Styles and Paramore. It almost made me feel like I was back on tour. Except not really.

Back in May, I had no idea that my cap was going to foreshadow how some of the rest of 2017 would go. About a week after I got home from my Philadelphia trip, I ended up getting an extremely last minute gig selling merch for none other than Nothing But Thieves. I joined them halfway through their tour toward the end of October and lived another big ole dream of mine in 2017. 

November's cold weather and slow concert season lead to getting way fewer hours at all my jobs so I applied to the seasonal pop-up American Girl store at the mall on a whim to make sure I was making enough money to pay the bills and also to save for my move back to Chicago (March, baby!). I got the job, and while at first I was a little apprehensive because my pride didn't really want to let me work a retail job post-grad, I absolutely love it. Aside from being a symbol nerd, I'm the most nostalgic human on the planet probably and getting to sell the dolls that were so important to my childhood actually makes me excited to go to work everyday. Also the Girl of the Year is a girl who is a future astronaut and AG teamed up with NASA on it, so it's a weird coincidence that this is the GOTY that gets introduced while I am working there (before my music dreams, I wanted to be a fashion designer, but before THAT, I wanted to study astronomy because I was always enthralled by space). It's almost a weird full circle moment. I've had a lot of those this year.

Also in November I got to visit Brooke Ball at Disney! I hadn't been to Disney since Kindergarten, and we did Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Epcot all in one day. 

Wrapping up a year of traveling, music, and traveling for music, I went to New Jersey for the 10 Year Anniversary of All Time Low's So Wrong It's Right with some of my best friends in the entire world. Since I don't get to celebrate on New Year's Eve this year, it was the perfect send off to a really fantastic year. 

So, thank you 2017. You were amazing. But with a cool tour lined up for Feb/March and a move back to my favorite city with two of my best friends in the cards for next year, I really think 2018 could give you a run for your money.