If I had to summarize 2015 in a single word, it would have to be “courage.” In three words, it would be “courage and happiness.”
Before you think, “Ugh, this girl is SO self-righteous and thinks she’s courageous,” hear me out.
You see, this was the year I witnessed courage everywhere: from friends, strangers, myself, and even from the world at large. This was a year of struggle. A year of loss, uncertainty, and discomfort. Time and time again I saw loved ones dealing with everything from breakups to deaths – and everything in between. I saw the world deal with the anguish of war, terrorism, and hatred.
But we prevailed. Why?
Because of courage. It takes courage to do what scares you. To get up again and again when life doesn’t seem to be going your way. To look in the face of ignorance and hatred and tell it to f**k off.
It’s officially a new year, and we’re all fresh and energized (or will be in a few hours), and we’re ready to face 2016 with the courage to better ourselves and be happy.
And so with that in mind, I felt it only right to write about what gave me happiness and courage in 2015 to serve as a reminder (and maybe even inspiration?) that despite the fear, courage is the path to happiness. Couldn’t help being cheesy there.
Anyway, some of these are serious and others are a little tongue in cheek. But here we go! 2015: A year of travel, courage and happiness.
1. I faced my first real winter.
Courage. I know, I know. How wimpy am I to think it’s courageous to face winter? This is slightly a joke, but man was that trip to Istanbul a struggle! It definitely made me thankful to live in Los Angeles, where the coldest weather we deal with is 40°F / 4°C.
2. I rode a hot air balloon.
Happiness. In the midst of facing said winter, I had the opportunity to cross something off my bucket list – I got to ride a hot air balloon! In Cappadocia! And if you ever find yourself in Cappadocia, I highly recommend booking a ride – despite it being totally touristy.
3. I read 50 books.
Happiness (and shock!). Instead of sitting around complaining about my ridiculous work commute (3 hours a day), I took it upon myself to listen to audiobooks. Lots of them. I just looked at my list and realized I made it to 50! Proud accomplishment indeed. Which led to….
4. I became a lot more positive.
Happiness and courage. Nice, sassy, and optimistic is how most people describe me (at least, to my face!). But, 2014 was most definitely not my year. I let too much negativity in and was upset by my like of optimism, which made me even more negative. In 2015, I got my groove back. Thanks inspirational books for reminding me that positivity makes even the crappiest situations better. I had my negative moments, but I’m back to myself and couldn’t be happier.
5. I learned how to do a volcada.
COURAGE. I don’t really advertise that I take Argentine tango classes, mainly cause I’m pretty bad at them. I don’t even look a quarter as graceful doing this as these dancers – It actually looks like I’m clinging onto my partner for dear life. It also took LOTS of heart palpitations and straight up refusal to do this until I actually did it. I was proud at the end for both not falling flat on my face and for not getting an anxiety attack.
6. I watched my siblings graduate college.
Happiness. We’re all “adults” now…naht. More like…we can all go on vacation together and watch rated R movies and stuff. That’s as adult as it gets in the Elbassir household. Still proud of my baby bro and sis though! PS Don’t tell my mom I said we’re all adults…she’s in denial haha.
7. I quit my job.
Courage and happiness. According to personality tests, I make decisions based off my emotions, not based off of logic. While that may be true, I sure as hell think long and hard before letting my emotions take the wheel. You want to know what it’s like being on a roller coaster from hell? Hang out with me while I’m trying to make a major life decision. Even I think I’m annoying. Plus, I didn’t have a job lined up when I left this one, which didn’t help with the anxious emotions. But it did lead me to the next point…
8. I traveled solo for the first time.
Courage and happiness. “I’m going on a solo trip!” I confidently told anyone who asked what I was up to during my funemployment. Inside though, it was all: “what if I make no friends and go completely insane from just talking to myself nonstop?” and “How depressing is it going to be to have to eat all those meals by myself?” Clearly I was worrying about the important things. But I survived, made some friends, and even learned how to use a selfie stick! There’s hope after all.
9. I went on my first food tour.
Happiness. I’d always wanted to go on a food tour, but they’re so annoyingly expensive and since I’m a budget traveler and all, I always felt like I’d be able to find the good local eats on my own. But since I was only in Madrid for a hot second and I had so many other trip aspects to plan, my parents treated me to a food tour for my birthday. I probably won’t make a habit of going on food tours in every city, but at least I got to check this off the bucket list. Plus I was in foodie heaven – I was definitely not disappointed!
10. I learned to enjoy eating alone.
Courage and happiness. For a lot of people, this isn’t even that big of a deal. Frequent solo travelers, business people, and more take eating alone in stride. I wrote a whole post about the lengths I went to avoid eating alone in public, before I finally embraced it as a challenge of confidence and comfort. Fake it til you make it y’all.
11. I made unexpected friends.
Happiness. I may have spent an entire month in Spain, but because I went to so many cities (8 in total!), I didn’t expect to make actual friends. Temporary travel friends, sure, but not people who I would actually keep in touch with long after my travels. Yet here I am, skyping and chatting often with people, and loving it. These unexpected friendships have a tendency to surprise me, which often makes them that much more special.
12. I reconnected with old friends.
Happiness. Friendships fade more often than not, and I take it in stride. Distance, circumstance, separate paths…there are a multitude of reasons and I learned long ago to be happy with the time I’ve spent with people, knowing there’s a chance we won’t cross paths in the future. One of the benefits and pitfalls of moving so many times when I was younger, I suppose! But the opportunity to connect with old friends again is still awesome – especially when you can pick up right where you left off. It’s arguably better than making new ones.
13. I started a travel blog.
Happiness. Man oh man, did I underestimate just how much work it is to run a travel blog. But I wouldn’t take back my decision to start one even if you paid me. I have learned so much about marketing and writing and have seen first-hand the hard work behind the glitz and glamour of some of my favorite bloggers. I also realized that I’m probably not cut out for being a full-time writer. But that’s okay, because for once, work isn’t bad. I’m actually enjoying the learning process. And I have something tangible to be proud of. And I get to look back at all my travel memories and relive them again so yeah – no complaints.
14. I got accepted to blog in the Huffington Post.
Happiness. I literally just got the acceptance email earlier this week, so nothing has been actually published yet. But this was one of my blogging goals for 2016, and it happened just as 2015 ended. So exciting! Someone is crazy enough to want to publish what I write to thousands of readers. Um, what?! I may be working for exposure currency, but we little guys have to start somewhere, right?
15. I secured a job in Spain.
Happiness and courage. Wait, what?! Yes, you read that right. I know I’m being cheeky by posting this on here since I haven’t actually officially announced it yet, but I’m going to be super annoying and keep all the details under wraps until I have a few more concrete details figured out. Yes, this means that 2016 will bring a very Spanish Sally. And much more exciting travel photos. Stay tuned! I’m sure I’ll have plenty of fun language faux pas and cultural adjustments you can enjoy at my expense.
Cheers to courage, humility, and opportunity. Cheers to a great year. Cheers to 2016! Follow along with my 2016 happiness on Facebook or Instagram!
Tell me! What were your happiest or most courageous moments of 2015? What do you hope to accomplish in the new year (travel-related or otherwise)?