Happy Holidays to all of you!
I am one of those super nerdy people that sends out my Christmas cards on Cyber Monday so that they arrive just in time for December 1st. I also write a Christmas letter each year, talking about the year that has just ended. I thought I would share that letter here, for all of you as well!
Every year, as I work on this letter, I’m convinced that there’s no way I could top the previous year. Every year, I laugh when I sit down and realize just what a year it has been. This year especially has been an incredible whirlwind and I’d love to invite you to curl up with a glass of whiskey (or cocoa) while I catch you up.
I started this year a digital nomad, intent on traveling to over 50 cities by the time the year was over. As the year began and the end of Q1 approached, it seemed I was on track to do just that. I flew on more planes in the first quarter of this year than I think I’ve ever been on in a full year before that. Throughout the year, I continued to travel and passionately explore the world, and then in late July, an unexpected opportunity fell into my lap. I found myself the accidental interviewee at this little tech company called Google. After three rounds of grueling interviews, I accepted a job offer, and officially started on September 18th, nearly a year to the day after my second layoff in 2016.
I’m now a few months into my time at “the big G” (as Granny so lovingly calls it) and while this may have been an unconventional choice for someone having such an incredibly adventurous year, I am beyond grateful that I made the decision to step back into the corporate world. Never have I been so excited to get up every day and go to work, nor have I ever been challenged so much in a role. Google truly is the corporate version of “the happiest place on earth.” My coworkers and I joke that “every day that our badge still works is a good day,” but it’s so true. There’s so much experimentation happening here, I am learning far more about marketing than I ever have.
I cannot even begin to express how much I enjoyed traveling this year. Every place was a new adventure and I was finally able to meet so many of you, my entrepreneurial friends, in person. It’s a foreign concept to try to explain to someone how this person that has been your “online coworker” for years plays such a critical role in your life and now you finally get the opportunity to meet them in person. Getting to spend so much time with Meghan in Nashville; going on an accidental adventure to get tattoos with Devan, Reina, and Sam in Portland; late night Whataburger with the women at Illume Retreat in Waco; finally getting to hug Lara in person at C@H in Raleigh; and experiencing intimate moments of deep conversation with so many women the first time we connected in person has been the absolute most joyful part of this year. Jenna and I talked about the realities of what “going nomad” really was and what was I trying to escape from; Kat/Rachel and I had a very serious conversation about where faith/Christ/homosexuality all intersected; Meghan and I talked about the realities of life and difficult decisions. None of these conversations would have been possible without this year of travel.
I also think of the “firsts” of this year. At 23 (and just days away from 24), I sit back and wonder how it’s possible that there are still “firsts” that exist in my life. But there truly are. From trivial firsts like that first bite of a Voodoo Donuts treat to major firsts like starting a job that I truly believe will become a career, it’s been nothing short of earth shattering. I became a lingerie model this year - never in a million years did I think that a lingerie brand would ask me not once but TWICE to model their products. I never knew I could look so beautiful - Leslie, thank you. I met my first ever male best friend this year. (It feels very sexist to say that, but Joey, I have literally never been as close to a boy as I have been with you. We became friends so very quickly and I treasure our friendship so deeply. You have supported me through so much - from splinters in my feet to big tearful moments, and everything in between.)
This year has taught me so much - from lessons in what matters most (both in terms of people you build friendships with and things you own) to experiences that have absolutely changed my life. Whether it was the flight that I almost missed in Morocco (because my previous flight was cancelled and Casablanca’s taxi system is a chaotic mess) or the first day I used my badge to open a door at Google, I am beyond grateful for what this year has brought, especially after the turmoil of 2016.
I am floored by each and every one of you’s support and openness this year. Many of you opened your hearts and homes to me as I traveled the globe and from the bottom of my heart, I have to express my deepest gratitude. You made this year possible. I know this letter has been more of a “thank you for everything” than a “here’s what happened this year,” but for the first time in my life, I truly understand the phrase it takes a village. We cannot exist fully if we live our life in a silo and you, my sweet friends and family, are my village.
I love each and every one of you so much. I hope you have the absolute most wonderful holiday season, however it is you celebrate. I am forever grateful to call you a friend.