Recap of 2019: The year of growth

With the year and decade coming to a close, I feel it is perfect timing to do a recap of 2019 and the major moments in my life that have happened. I can confidently say that 2019 has been one of the best years of my life, for many reasons. Of course there were tough moments, but the good moments far outweighed the rough patches. 

In this recap of 2019, I will share my top 5 moments of the year.  

1.  My first co-op job | January

First in this recap of 2019 is one of the biggest learning experiences I have faced in my life thus far. It was the first time I felt really independent. I moved to a new city (Guelph), a place where I didn’t know anyone or anything. I was living in an apartment with people I had never met. It was my first experience with the 9 to 5 working life, and in a sector I was passionate about. This was also when my passion for sustainability and youth climate action grew the most. I had free time to focus on the blog, and through my co-op I met amazing sustainability leaders. Without this experience I never would have joined Youth Action on Climate Change, the July conference would not have happened, and the initiatives I am running today would not exist.

2.  Muse Concert | March 

Not only was this the best concert of my life, but the experience demonstrates what lengths I am willing to go to for something I care about. The concert was in Montreal on a Saturday. On the Friday prior, I drove home from Guelph, took the 7am train on Saturday to Montreal, went to the concert in the evening, got back to the hotel around midnight, got up the next morning for the early train back home, then drove back to Guelph and went to work the next day. It was one of the most tiring weekends of the year, but one of the best. I got to see my favourite band since I was ten years old in one of my favourite cities.

Additionally, going to that concert myself made me aware of how important it is to do things that make you happy. You should not stop yourself from doing things because you think people will judge you, or because your friends don’t want to do it. I went to that concert myself, sang every song at the top of my lungs and danced in the aisle with other concert go-ers. I probably looked silly, but who cares? I had an amazing time. If the opportunity comes up again, you bet I will do it all over.

3.  2B school term | May to August

I am highlighting this entire school term because it is my favourite of my three years of university so far. I did a lot in this term: donned at a residence, sat on the student society, ran a conference, found another co-op job, all the while being a student in five courses. I made so many new friends while deepening the friendships I already had. I learned a lot about my leadership skills, that I work well under pressure, and how I can best handle stressful situations. I learned how to ask for help when needed, something I was always afraid to do. I learned how to say no and stand up for myself.

One of the most important things I learned was that, despite how stressful this particular school term was, I learned how to relax. I made time for friends regularly, and didn’t over-exert myself in school. I didn’t stress about the grades so rigorously and (surprise, surprise) my average didn’t budge. 

At the start of the term I thought I wouldn’t like being in school during the summer. After all, my friends back home were out of school and having fun without me. Instead, I learned that school in the summer is AWESOME because everyone is so relaxed, the weather is amazing, and there are so many more fun activities to do around the city. Moral of the story: this was another huge growth period for me, and a turning point in my university degree.

4.  Youth Climate Leadership Conference – Youth Action on Climate Change | July

Months of planning and organizing came to a peak in July when the Waterloo Chapter of Youth Action on Climate Change launched. The conference brought together youth from across Waterloo Region to discuss local climate change issues and collaborate on projects to tackle these issues. We had kids as young as twelve working with Masters students at the university. We are still working with this group on a project to tackle food waste within the community. 

This event was my first real experience with planning a large-scale event for the community. There was a lot of networking, delegation and adaptation involved. I had my first experiences pitching for grants, coordinating media coverage for the event and more. Most importantly, I saw how the actions that I took, along with my awesome YACC team, could make an impact on the broader community. It’s fueled my ambition and drive to keep tackling climate change issues locally, and continue inspiring youth to take action in their own lives. 

5.  Clear the Air | October

The rebranding of my platform marked a shift in my life. If you knew the blog before it was Clear the Air, it was Jenna’s Journey. This name was (unfortunately) chosen back in grade twelve when I thought I would just blog about my life experiences as I began university. At the time I thought it would be a reflective outlet for me, a way to look back on my life experiences. As I went through university it began focusing on sustainability, but it no longer focused on just my experiences. I interviewed other sustainability experts and discussed local environmental issues. I started running presentations and workshops about sustainability.

Going through these moments, I realized that Jenna’s Journey no longer suited what the platform was about. The platform’s main goal now is to dispel confusion around complex environmental issues, educate and empower youth about these issues, and mobilize them to take action in their own lives. Clear the Air suits this changing vision because I am clearing the air of all the confusion around climate change and how the individual action contributes to positive change. The rebrand also marked the moment where I realized outreach and education is something I love to do, and want to pursue it as a career. Who would have thought that a hobby blog started in high school could potentially become my career?

Final thoughts and the path forward

There were so many more amazing moments, but this recap of 2019 highlights the moments that resulted in the greatest personal growth, and had the largest impact on my outlook of life today. I look forward to all that 2020 has to offer. I know it’s going to be a great year. 

If you do a recap of 2019, what are your top moments and why? What are you excited for in the New Year? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time.

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