1. Quitting doesn't mean you're a quitter. In December, I decided it was time to move on from my first full-time job. While part of me felt terrible for leaving the first employer to take a chance on my skills and passion, I realized that life is about moving forward when you're ready. As long as you apply everything you've learned to your next endeavor, this is a healthy and unavoidable experience.
2. You can be a leader without being a boss. I've been so fortunate this year to land a job that encourages every facet of my creativity. By taking some initiatives, pitching my own ideas and following through with them, I've been able to produce great things with my team.
3. Living at home isn't the end of the world. When I moved back home, I knew it would be an adjustment. In the midst of cramming everything back into my childhood bedroom, I could almost feel the pressure of "Boomerang Generation" being stamped on my forehead. But it's not bad. The time I'm able to spend with my mom and family on a daily basis is something I'll hold on to forever. And have I mentioned there's no rent? My savings account is loving me.
4. Love is enjoying the little things together. Tyler and I celebrated one year together in February. Throughout our relationship, I've learned that the little things will always be enough. While we share a sense of adventure, most of our favorite things don't involve grand plans, plane tickets or a lot of money. Give us a camera, a Netflix series or a 40-count box of Bagel Bites, and we're happy.
5. My friends are the best. There was no other way to say this one. Instead of being down the hall or across the street, we're now hours or a plane ride apart — but that hasn't kept us from making each other laugh every day.
6. It's better to be safe than to owe money. I got my first traffic ticket this year, which means I started crying about 30 minutes too late. Takeaway: Come to a complete stop at all stop signs, because 15 seconds could cost you about $150 in the state of Virginia.
7. Shooting with film is a great lesson in patience. I'll be the first to say that I'm as impatient as it gets. The instant gratification I get from shooting digital is invaluable. That's why I need to shoot with film every once in a while. From start to finish, analog demands a kind of calm and care that everyone should harbor. After all, patience is a virtue.
8. Being an aunt isn't going to be easy. For some reason, I am Amelia's least favorite person. But I'm dedicated to one day winning her over.
9. Listen for stories. Someone once told me that being a journalist, a storyteller, is about giving a voice to the voiceless. Recently, I've been listening closer and jotting down snippets of conversations or facts about people's lives. Everyone has a story to tell and no one wants to be forgotten.
10. Your hometown can become new again. It's so easy to become blind to the everyday. But for me, taking photos is a way to look at something with fresh eyes, to rebuild a connection with the subject. In some weird way, it allows me to carry a piece of its energy with me. Just last week, I began taking photos of iconic downtown Roanoke scenes. Though I've grown up seeing these images, photographing them has transformed my same-old city into a whole new place.