A year of growth

Gabriela Tumani for News21

The year 2022 feels like one of those experiences that is hard to sum up in one word. It was full of ups and downs, so many disappointments and so many smiles. It really is hard to encapsulate it all in one phrase or feeling.

Right now, as I look back and reflect, one of the biggest words that comes to mind is growth. Growth is often seen as a good thing: growing into a better version of yourself, maturing, learning, becoming. But growth also involves growing up, grief, change, uncomfortable moments, and pain. Growth is an opportunity where you must accept both the positive and negative equally in order to fully embrace it. Perhaps that’s why this the word that comes to mind for me — it is both positive and negative, a lot like 2022.

I’ll be the first to admit that these last few years have been difficult. They have challenged who I thought I was as a person, as well as who I would like to be. I thought I was on a straight and narrow path for college, and the pandemic has taught me that while a nice ideal, it is not physically possible. The path I have taken has had curves and stops, hard lefts and U-turns. But through it all, it hasn’t been all bad. In fact, some things have been pretty great.

I fulfilled a childhood dream of reporting in Arizona, for News21. I made new friends — great friends — for the first time since the beginning of college. I joined my first club in college as a senior. I wrote a science fiction short story — I even submitted to my school’s literary journal. I listened to some amazing people and for a few them, I even had the privilege of writing their stories. I helped some of my friends tell their own stories, in their own words. I took a film criticism class, a screenwriting class, a media analytics class, and I was a teaching assistant to some wonderful freshmen. I applied to my first jobs. I read 34 books. I finished my fiftieth consecutive journal (for reference, I started at age 12 and a half).

There’s a lot more that I did and am just not remembering right now, and some more I want to save just for me. There’s some, too, that was hard. I felt more lost and confused in the last year than I have since I was in middle school. I did a lot that I am not proud of, hurt people, said the wrong thing. There were experiences I missed out on because I was too scared to try. There are moments I did not fully appreciate, things I regret.

But what I want to remember — what I choose to remember — is that bad or good, this year helped me grow into the person I am today. The person who woke up at 5:30 a.m. with her dog, decided to stay awake and read, and is now sitting, writing, and drinking a cup of tea, all while the sun rises on a brand new day.