Every year, I do a thing on Facebook called “My Year in Photos,” which is an application that helps you make a collage of photos uploaded in the past calendar year. It’s a fun way to reflect on everything that’s happened in the past year and sift through what was really important. So, with the help of the collage I created, here are the things that happened in my life in 2013:

  • I got to be in a scene for a feature-length film that my friend in film school is making.
  • I attended the Jubilee Conference and got to sing a Les Mis duet as a tribute to Byron the wonderful Jubilee bookseller and owner of Hearts and Minds Bookstore. (I’m listening to the Les Mis soundtrack as I write this. It’s making me want to sing. And cry.)
  • I spent my spring break in the Dominican Republic on a truly memorable mission trip. The country and its people are so beautiful, and I learned so much about myself, about others, and about God.
  • I went to DC with two of my wonderful friends and stayed with another friend. We attended a job fair and a networking event, and just had fun bumming around DC (and eating honey walnut shrimp).
  • I finished my sophomore year of college.
  • I got a summer internship fellowship and spent an amazing summer in Washington, DC interning on Capitol Hill and meeting some truly amazing people, including many of my fellow interns.
  • At the above internships, I saw Colin Powell, Stephen Forbes, Chuck Todd, Kevin McCarthy, and Dan Rooney speak.
  • I went to the Supreme Court right after the DOMA decision was handed down. While there, I shook hands with one of our Congressmen.
  • While in DC, I ate at the Bilbo Baggins Cafe with two of my best friends.
  • I was a few feet from the Vice President after the Comprehensive Immigration Reform vote, met Elizabeth Warren, and saw Samantha Power in the Senate cafe.
  • I started my junior year of college.
  • I had an amazing 20th birthday while I was at a church retreat, thanks to some unbelievably wonderful friends. This birthday included singing a Disney mashup duet and winning the talent show with it, and getting a ton of cards from everyone there.
  • I went to my first friend wedding.
  • For the first time in three years, I won NaNoWriMo, writing a manuscript that I’m incredibly excited about and want to pursue publishing.
  • I spent another year on the leadership team for my wonderful church group, having the privilege to lead a women’s small group both semesters, meet some awesome new friends, and continue relationships with awesome old friends.
  • I went to a Christmas Eve service in a stable with my wonderful home church.
  • I saw my best friend get engaged.

Somewhere along the line this year, I became a grownup. I don’t know how this happens, but I really do see a difference in myself from this time last year. Over the course of the last calendar year, I’ve had a lot of personal struggles in addition to the things above. It’s been a really hard year. I’m coming out of it different than I went in. Now I have friends getting married, a senior honors thesis to figure out, grad school to think about, a novel to revise, and a lot of decisions that seem to need resolutions.

What a year.

Here’s to 2013, as hard and long as it was. When I take the time to think (and blog) about it, it’s still been a blessed year. Thank God for friends, family, crying, change, travel, music, and forward momentum. And here’s hoping that in 2014, we’ll have even more to celebrate.