LADIES AND FREAKING GENTLEMEN. I did it.
I somehow made it another 365 days on this earth, I circled the sun and lived to tell the tale.
So yes, today is my birthday and that means I'm saying auf wiedersehen to 20 and guten tag to 21 (and more importantly it is my champagne birthday because it's my 21st birthday and the 21st of November so I'll be drinking bubbly for the next 24 hours).
I've been mulling over a lot of different ideas for what to write for my birthday. Last year I wrote a very "classic-me" post about all the things I've learned and all the sentimental crap that comes with being as wisdom-y as I am. And I kind of thought about doing that again, but I post about learning things all the time. I did a life-lesson post at the end of the summer, I did one recently about self-love and one about mental health before that. My website is a series of unsolicited advice, and didn't think I needed to dole out anymore on my birthday.
And in thinking a lot about this last year, I've realized what an amazing year it has been. Being 20 was the best year of my life. And not everyday was perfect, lots of days weren't, but weighing all factors, this year checks most if not all of my boxes for an "amazing year".
So in attempt to highlight this amazing year, I'm going to share my top 20 moments of being 20. Some of them are lengthy and require stories, and some are very brief and easily explained, but I hope this helps to explain why this year has been so amazing. So buckle in, because we're counting down (I did my best to order them, but it was very difficult):
#20: When Johnny Reid shared my Instagram post on his story.
Just absolutely surreal.
#19: Celebrating the Raptors win.
Toronto sports are rarely something to rally around, I always will, but they're often a bit of a let down (I'm looking at you Maple Leafs). However, this summer, Toronto celebrated Raptors in 6 and it was kind of incredible. Every game was its own tiny celebration, and everyday its own little party. Toronto was a ton of fun leading up to the Raptors winning game and I'm so happy I got to be home for it.
#18: Working with BeaYOUtiful
My older sister is a chair for a non-profit based in Vancouver. BeaYOUtiful works to support young girls in a series of issues; social media literacy, body positivity and stress management are all on the curriculum for young girls who take these classes. This year I was able to participate in their Inspired by HER conference last January, as well as be a guest speaker during one of their 6-week classes this November. I got to teach young girls how to write music as an outlet for stress and it was so rewarding.
#17: Performing at VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto.
Growing up I sang in a private sector choir in Toronto, VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto. Last year, the choir's repertoire was based around Canadian songwriters. As part of their final concert, they invited back choir alumni who went on to write music, and yes that includes me. VIVA! gave me so much as a kid, and getting to come back and perform as a solo artist was not only rewarding, but I got to see all my old conductors and friends who went on to work with VIVA!
#16: Voting in my first election.
Y'all know how passionate I am about voting!
#15: Drinking Games with My Cousin
My cousin is one of my best friends, and we both enjoy gin probably more than we should. One night when I was in Toronto she came over. We have both seen The Italian Job with Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg enough times we could probably recite the movie script from start to finish. However, after realising the movie isn't on Netflix as we had expected, she and I settled on watching The Losers with Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana and Chris Evans and playing a related action-movie-drinking game. It quickly descended into chaos, we both lost complete track of what was going on and spent inordinate amounts of time talking about how attractive Idris Elba is.
#14: Walking the Seawall.
One of my closest friends abandoned my last year to go live in Australia for a couple months on exchange (obviously very devastating). When she got back we walked the seawall around Stanley Park in Vancouver and caught up. She told me about her trip, I shared all the horrible life decisions I had made without her around for constant guidance. Our little adventure ended with hot chocolate and getting on the wrong bus to try and get back home. Little bit of a road bump but not a bad person to get lost with.
#13: Skiing during Winter Finals.
Last winter finals my Dad and younger sister came out to Whistler with family friends of ours. Just the break I needed. Granted I spent more time studying than on the hill, my family-oriented personality will always ask for more family time in my life.
#12: Long walks in Toronto with my Best Friend.
I love walking. It's one of the many things that make me a weirdo but thankfully my best friend shares this little quirk with me. We don't live in the same city during the year and we don't get to see each other a lot during the summer because her work schedule is insane. But a couple times this summer we would take 3-ish hour walks and catch up and joke. We also planned my wedding at one point so you can't say they weren't productive walks.
#11: Work Parties.
I work retail in downtown Toronto, and we regularly get drinks after work. All the regular things, talk about nightmare customers, gossip about people, share dating stories. There was one particular night I made my coworkers take tequila shots after a particularly long day at work. I go back to my job every time I'm in Toronto not for the job, but for the people.
#10: Getting my Full License.
You can read all about this in my post from this summer!
#9: Seeing Avengers: Endgame on Opening Night. And then Again. And Again.
What can I say? I'm a huge dork.
#8: Watching Cody Ko with my Mom.
My younger sister and I had been making jokes regarding the "That's Cringe: Girl Defined" video on Cody Ko's YouTube channel. We kept trying to explain the joke, knowing that most of Cody's (and specifically Cody + Noel content) wasn't necessarily something I would want to watch with my mom. But after poorly explaining the joke multiple times, we decided to just watch the video. Quickly my mom, my sister and I got sucked into a wormhole of YouTube - the only way to watch YouTube. We spent the whole life laughing as we showed my mom how entertaining the commentary side of YouTube can be.
#7: Canuck's Game with my Older Sister.
Earlier this term I was given free tickets to a Canuck's game and immediately invited my older sister to go with me. Let me preface this - neither of us had any idea how hockey games worked. We weren't even sure how long the game was. We had assumed "free tickets" meant nose-bleed tickets, when in reality we were 8 rows from the action the whole night. There was an awkward moment when my sister cheered for the wrong time, but other than that I think we pulled it off?
#6: Dinner with my Younger Sister.
My younger sister and I spent a lot of time together this summer. I had a lot of difficulty picking my favourite moment with her this year. But I think it was one night when she and I went out for dinner to this Italian restaurant by our house and came home and watched....yes you guessed it.... Avengers: Endgame. She had spent all summer watching every Marvel movie in order, and this not only was such a fun night but the culmination of all her hard work over the summer. Plus I finally had another person to nerd-out with.
#5: Releasing "The Train".
I love releasing new music and the positive feedback on a song I had laboured so intensely over was so incredible. Read more about "The Train" below.
#4: The Halloween Pre-Party.
I have the most amazing group of friends at school. But this is the first year we don't all have classes together and one of my friends is on co-op so we don't all see each other that often (at least at the same time). On Halloween we decided to go to a house party and pre at my friend's house. We tried to make cocktails but after poorly organising this endeavour we all just brought hard alcohol. These girls are the most incredible people in my life and finally getting to see them all at once for the first time in forever made my night.
#3: An Impromtu Beer Pong Tournament.
My cottage is located in the middle of Butt-Fuck-Nowhere. Meaning, when it rains (which it rarely does), there's not a whole lot to do. You're 45 minutes from town and you can only spend so much time huddled up in the cottage before cabin fever sets in. This summer at the cottage I had my best friend at the cottage and my younger sister had her friend from volleyball and her family at the cottage. So we had 8 people at the cottage on a rainy day. At around 3pm, we started to get pretty bored when we decided to have a beer pong tournament. We developed a "March Madness" style bracket and played game after game of beer pong. So fun, so random, and my parents got way too competitive.
#2: The Boodle.
One of my best friends in Toronto is Filipino and this summer she invited a group of friends to participate in a boodle (yes it's a real word). It's a tradition that originated in the Filipino military in which a ton of food is piled on banana leaves in the middle, and you eat as much as you can with your hands. Not only was the food amazing but it was hilarious. We just ate until we couldn't eat anymore and joked and laughed. Plus, that night ended up being quite influential on the rest of my summer (but that's a story for another time).
#1: Thanksgiving at the Cottage.
My dad has worked so hard to turn our cottage from a hoarder's nest into a second home. And as you can see from my Instagram, I love the time I spend in New Brunswick. I grew up spending summers there, and to now be able to return and see my family on the east coast is incredible. This was the first time I saw that part of the country in the fall and not only was it stunning, but it was so incredible to get to see my family (immediate and extended). We are a rowdy bunch of drunk idiots and in spite of the nearly 10 hours of travelling it took to get there, I have no regrets.
So that was my year. And yes, I saved some favourite moments for myself, some quiet moments I want to keep and some times I laughed so hard I almost peed. But that's what this year was. A collection of amazing moments. And I'm terrified for 21, but I'm also excited. Who knows, maybe next year will be even better?
From me, with love, to you,
What's going on?
Here's a place where I'll try to keep you updated on what's going on in my life and with my music to keep you connected.