It’s hard to believe this year is over–and as a lot of people have said, it’s about time.
As a society we faced many grave lows in 2016, and it truly seemed like the last 365 days brought about some of the most heartbreaking realities we’ve seen in our world. I won’t dwell on the negative, but I’m with many of you when I say that 2016 was certainly unsettling.
In light of that, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all of the positive things that happened for me personally and urge you to do the same as we close out this year and look ahead to 2017.
So, in no particular order, here are THE BEST things that happened to me (or perhaps more accurately, that I made happen) in 2016:
Traveling Often and Traveling Alone.
This year, I collected several more stamps in my passport, and just about all of those stamps were acquired as a solo female traveler, living out her dreams ad exploring new places I had never seen before. I bravely booked a 10-day trip to Sweden, Copenhagen and Paris in the spring of 2016 and packed exactly one carry-on bag and took off for a fun-filled ‘eat, pray, love’ adventure all on my own.
Guess what? I loved every second of it, and suddenly felt the need to do a whole lot more exploring, discovering and living–outside of my normal routine in LA, which was starting to feel stale, superficial and annoying with each passing day.
I have also met a few exceptionally amazing, extraordinary people during my travels this year that I can’t imagine living without now moving forward. Goes to show you that sometimes you have to physically change your surroundings to discover the life (and the people!) you were truly meant for. And sometimes, it’s not at all what or who you thought it would be all along.
Little did I know that that one free-spirited Euro vacation in March would later inspire my wild decision to simply drop everything and move to Paris later this year.
Making My Happiness a Priority.
I have always prided myself on living a happy life, and am inherently a pretty positive person. But the beginning of this year challenged that happiness and urged me to check in with myself and really question what I wanted in life.
I had a demanding job in the celebrity/entertainment world that was stressing me out more than I ever thought possible. I was cranky and worn out and I wasn’t living a balanced life, despite my every effort to be superwoman.
I barely had time to see friends or family, and avoided dating at all costs to minimize added stress to my life. 2015 wrecked havoc on my love life, so I naturally threw myself into work, which was the only choice I had at the time, anyway. I was constantly glued to my cell phone and laptop every hour of the day, evenings and weekends; and felt an endless panic of being on call at any given moment.
I knew I needed to make a huge change in 2016, I just didn’t know when.
The crazy unique thing about me is that I’m oddly never afraid of making a drastic sweeping change when my happiness is at stake.
A lot of people stay safe or comfortable in their routines, even if it makes them unhappy. I vowed to myself a long time ago that I would never be one of those people. I ended up quitting my job halfway through the year and knew that whatever was next for me would be a step towards a more fulfilling life.
I was just proud of myself that I didn’t let the whole year go by in that state of anxiety, and bravely did what a lot of people would be too timid to do.
Moving to Paris.
I wrote about this ad nauseam already, but the best decision I’ve made so far (in life, not just in 2016) was to pack my bags and move to Paris…even for a few months. I had this tiny voice in the back of my head reminding me of the dream I had when I was a little girl to live in the City of Light one day, and I decided now was the time to act on it.
Now that I’m well into my 30s, literally everyone I know is getting married, buying houses, settling down and/or having babies. I, on the other hand, decided to quit my job, pack my bags and live in Paris.
When you only have to worry about yourself, following your dreams is much more manageable, I realized, and not to be ignored.
For this reason, I am now SO GRATEFUL that my life turned out the way it has thus far: that none of those other (tragic and dramatic) relationships worked out, that each demanding job led me to this point, and that I could now stand stronger and feel more certain of who I am and what I wanted for myself.
I’ve always been fiercely independent, but I was about to take that to the next level…because YOLO.
In a matter of weeks, I moved out of my overpriced West Hollywood apartment, got rid of ALL of my furniture and felt freer than ever. I had a small squad of the best friends I could ask for supporting my move and sent me off with endless enthusiasm and well wishes.
Armed with two suitcases and an Airbnb account, I believed that I had finally figured out the best path for me, at least for right now, and didn’t need anyone’s approval or permission to do whatever my heart desired.
I should also add here that I know I am extremely rare to not only feel these things, but to also have the ability and means to act on it.
And so I did.
While in Paris, I woke up every day with this renewed energy that anything could happen, and that I didn’t really have to answer to anyone but myself. I’d hop on the Metro and randomly pick a stop to get off on and just wander. The magical thing about Paris is that there is always something incredible to see everywhere you go. I even cherished the nine-hour time difference between Paris and LA because my phone and e-mails were utterly silent for several daytime hours and I could just live in the moment.
I visited museums and took photos and wandered the city streets. I ate many meals alone, which is an achievement for an extrovert like myself. I gradually met English-speaking friends (that didn’t come quite as easily as I expected, FYI), but then again, it was refreshing to not have the demands of my LA social life and I explored the city (almost) every single day, rain or shine.
Moving to a foreign country where you don’t know anyone and don’t speak the language is HARD (just ask Carrie Bradshaw), but it also shows you what you’re made of. And I loved every second of it and would do it again and again and again if I could.
In 2016, I did some major purging. I got rid of a lot of tangible items and made big contributions to non-profit organizations that could use my excess amount of clothes, shoes, beauty products and accessories. For me, this chapter in my life was about experiences, not things, so it was really easy to let go of a lot of things that were cluttering up my life. I packed two suitcases to Paris, and in hindsight, I probably could have survived out there with just one. Really.
I also noticed a subtle shift in certain friendships and priorities this year, too. They say that as you get older, you realize who your real friends are. This became more apparent than ever in 2016. It’s interesting how the second you decide to do something bold and against the grain (and are also happier than ever!) can also trigger so many people to suddenly feel the need to have opinions/judgments and endless questions about your life’s path.
They also say that if female friends can survive 10 years of friendship, they are friends for life. I have a handful of longtime girlfriends in that bucket, and I do believe in that sentiment; although right now, it’s becoming more and more apparent that as we are each following different life paths with our own individual timing. I also met a few new girlfriends this year who I clicked with so instantaneously that I felt like I’d known them forever.
In terms of priorities, I’ll simply say that the underlying theme of the last quarter of the year for me was to simply do me.
I became less and less attached to keeping up with what a lot of my LA peers are driven by (a crazy schedule of industry events and invites) and was guided by a notion that there was so much more to life than these trivial things that can easily consume all of your time and energy.
I was ready for change, I could feel it in my bones.
Being Open to New Possibilities.
The last quarter of 2016 was impossibly surreal.
Living in Europe for a few short months did my soul a lot of good, and I have to say I’m still craving more adventures abroad–especially now that I’m back home for the holidays.
Life surprised me in a lot of ways while living in Paris, and I’m all smiles coming out of that experience, and actually have a strong desire to keep that wanderlust spirit going, if that makes any sense at all.
Before I left for Paris, someone asked me what I wanted or what I hoped to achieve while I was out there, and I remember shrugging and simply saying “I just want to be fabulous!”
I didn’t have an agenda or a plan, and I didn’t even push myself to pick up freelance work during my time there. I didn’t put any expectations on it at all, because I believed that whatever would happen would be magical and perfect for the timing in my life right now.
And I was right.
A Brand New Blog.
And finally, I’m incredibly proud that I was able to launch my NEW blog this year! This was a long time coming, and I had put it off for years because I always had a full-time job that demanded more of my time and energy.
JennChanGlam.com would not have been possible without the vision and talent of my dear friend Jamie Lewis, who made my new site what it is today. It is so incredibly fitting and timely that I have a gorgeous new platform that truly speaks to MY brand during this pivotal year in my life.
And for that, and for so many other reasons, I am TRULY thankful.
So, here’s to a brand new year…2017, I am SO ready for you!