Letters to a New Year (Dani)

Dear 2018,

Before I can really address you and how I feel about our days together to come, I feel like I need to backtrack a little first. Back to December 1st, 2017—the day I dyed and changed my hairstyle. Now, please bear with me because I know how superficial this sounds. However, I am the type of person who reads into everything and draws meaning where others might not see any so hopefully, after a little explanation, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

 My goals for 2018 revolve around balance.

My goals for 2018 revolve around balance.

What you probably don’t know about me

I spent 20+ years of my life never dying my hair. I would look at other’s highlighted hair and love it, I would pin ‘honey bronde’ hairstyles on my Pinterest boards, and I would say “I wish I had the nerve to try that” but I wouldn’t do anything about it. I acted as if I prided myself on “being natural”…but actually, I think I was just scared of a drastic change.

A few years back, however, I decided to finally go for it! It felt like such a meaningful moment, throwing off this ‘safe’ and ‘wholesome’ image I had of myself for keeping my hair its natural color. I felt like I was making this grand statement that I was lighter and more carefree in my personality as well. It felt brilliant and beautiful and each time I went back for the touch-ups I would come back with more and more blonde highlights. I felt like I was saying to the world “This is SPAIN Dani! Look how different she is!”*

But then you know what happened?

It became my comfort zone, my norm, what I expected of myself. Although I always planned to go back to my natural color pretty soon after, I actually started feeling nervous about the idea of being truly brunette again. I spent 1.5 years going lighter and lighter. Perhaps there was a part of me (the part that put such meaning on the original change) that feared that changing back would be like returning to the person I used to be, unwriting all the growth and progress I’ve made since. I know it sounds silly, but when you allow yourself to build something up so much, undoing it feels like it will be monumental as well.

 Trying to let the sun set on comfort zones!

Trying to let the sun set on comfort zones!

However, at the beginning of this month, I finally told the peluquera to dye it the color of my roots and I haven’t looked back. Since then, I feel like I’ve taken this huge leap forward. I’ve gone from the absolute lightest my hair’s even been to the absolute darkest. I also opted for a new style of cutting it and now every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I do a double take. It sounds funny to say about yourself, but I grew accustomed to how I looked with ‘honey bronde’ hair, now I look like a completely different person. But it’s wonderful because it’s this constant reminder of how I want to be different in the new year and how I want to continue to surprise myself.

 

Which brings me to The point of this letter...

I have a lot of personal and professional goals for 2018 and I feel like this whole hair issue is a simplistic reminder of how I want to approach future situations. I want to stay alert and aware of my underlying feelings (silly as they may seem at times). I want to take into account whether I am resisting something because it’s a bad idea or because I’m afraid of venturing out of my comfort zone. I want to do more things that scare me.

 Fun ways of getting exercise are also on my list of "must continue!"

Fun ways of getting exercise are also on my list of "must continue!"

Professional goals

One of those 'scary' things is really taking Sincerely, Spain to the next level, in which we collaborate with more study abroad programs, bloggers, and students to form personal connections with those of you here in Spain (and getting ready to come)! It’s scary to think it was just under one year ago that I was sitting in a bar, sharing this abstract idea with Claudia and here we are making it a reality! We’ve actually come a long way and I am very proud of and thankful for our partnership. At the same time, I’m ready to kick more butt in 2018.

 

On the more personal side

I feel that I have let myself slack off on a lot of relationships this year, especially in the last six months. I’ve gone through quite a few personal changes and living on my own has caused me to become much more contemplative (for better and for worst). What that means lately is that sometimes I draw into myself, rather than reach out to loved ones. I’m not saying this is completely bad and I fully believe in needing cycles of more or less social activity. Still, I hope that this change in my behavior has not been considered personal on the behalf of those friends who I have seen, written to, and Skyped less with during 2017. I will also be using my hair as a reminder to nurture my relationships more in 2018— keeping in mind that quality, not quantity, of time and effort is what keeps friendships growing.

 I want to take more time to nurture and celebrate my relationships.

I want to take more time to nurture and celebrate my relationships.

Additionally, I plan to nurture my relationship with myself. Yoga, meditation, exercise, self-care—they are all things I claim to value, but easily write off when I “don’t have time.” In order to do this, I will have to work on disciplining and managing my time better but that’s definitely a goal that would benefit all of my resolutions above as well!

Thriving

Finally, I want to invest more time in my Spanish immersion. It may some ironic, as we write so many articles about the importance of this, but I know I haven’t been as good about it in these last six months as previously. Again, living on my own has changed my everyday environment and (although I am happy to have more personal space and endless me-time) I need to make more of an effort to get out and enjoy my city, to make new friends, and to spend hours-on-end speaking in Spanish. I need to spend more time THRIVING!

 Shout-out to my parents who always keep me moving forward!

Shout-out to my parents who always keep me moving forward!

If it weren’t for my love of Spanish, Spain, and Granada I wouldn’t be here physically. At the same time, if it weren’t for my love of personal relationships and helping each other out, I wouldn’t be here virtually. I think being a “different person” in the ways I truly want to be in 2018 means pushing beyond where I’m at now, but in a way that is aligned with why I’m here in the first place. So I hope to be reminded of all of this each time I notice my new-but-old hair and I encourage you to reach out and check in with me on all of this! Accountability is so important.

 

What about you? Have you set any goals or resolutions for 2018? Do they have anything to do with Spain? Please share in the comments and we can help you with your accountability, too!

Sincerely,
Spain

*Of course, I am aware that no one else probably felt ANY of these things I was imagining, but it was the personal transformation that mattered.