2016 was a crazy year filled with changes and memories that I will have forever. It’s the year I turned 18, graduated high school and moved 346 miles away from home to attend college in Washington, DC. This year I became more independent than I ever have been before; I even learned how to do laundry.
The year started hectic and overwhelming at school. I finished applying to colleges and prepared to attend my final winter ball, dateless, of course. Next thing I knew, it was February and I was celebrating my 18th birthday with a snow day. However, I hardly looked my age. I’m still mistaken for a twelve year old and every time I present my ID at an airport I’m gawked at and asked about my ‘real’ age. Seriously. I also won my senior prom dress via a social media contest which was definitely a highlight of the year that I’ll remember forever.
Before I knew it, March had arrived and acceptance letters began arriving. I was accepted everywhere I applied. I remember being shocked when I got into Boston College and George Washington, my two top choices. Nearly 20% of my graduating class had also applied to these schools and out of all of us, the schools chose me.
With April came the stark realization that high school was coming to an end, and that I had to find a prom date. I played my last orchestra concert and began to finish up my classes to prepare for AP exams. I voted in my first primary election. I looked high and low trying to find a prom date, even stopping at Dave’s market a few too many times to scope out potential dates. I went on college visits and visited my grandparents for the first time in Florida. Before I knew it, May first had arrived and it was time for me to make a crucial decision: where I would attend college. I honestly had no idea. I couldn’t make a wrong choice, yet sometimes I wonder if I did. I sat down at my computer and at that very instant made a decision. I logged into my George Washington account and sent my deposit. I was headed to DC.
But first… I had to finish up high school. A few weeks later I was pinned as an alum and took my final exams. I celebrated with my class at our Baccalaureate Mass and our Class Day. I got my first spray tan and headed to prom, with a date! And just like that High School was over; the only thing left to do to graduate.
On June 6, 2016, I walked down the aisle of the Cathedral and graduated from high school. The summer that followed was one for the books. I rode amazing horses, made amazing friends and went on numerous adventures. I got my wisdom teeth out, registered for my first classes, cursing my new school all the while, and biked 10 miles daily.
In the blink of an eye it was August 27th and I was in the car heading to DC. Once I arrived at The George Washington University I headed to hand pick my own dorm. Yes, I’m just that special. I slid down the Lincoln Memorial and excelled in my first classes. I cooked dinner for myself every night and (somewhat) got used to living with my peers. I flew home every chance I got and had a say in who was elected president for the first time via mail in ballot. DC was my playground and I was exploring it. I frequently walked to Georgetown and ran across a highway to get there the first time, before I learned the safe shortcut. I made friends, visited museums and the National Christmas Tree.
After what felt like the quickest semester of my life, yet the slowest, I flew home for Christmas, and to ring in the new year. 2016 was a great one. I accomplished a lot and experienced many milestones. I will never forget this year and all I learned. 2016 was a year of breaking the boundaries of my comfort zone to allow for new growth. I’m sure 2017 will be similar in that aspect, yet, I can’t help but hope it will be a more comfortable year, still filled with adventures, laughs and memories to last a lifetime.