Since I graduated college, one thing that's been heavy on my mind is continuing to better myself now that I'm outside of an academic environment. When not required, the books I read are not exactly always the informative sort. I always wanted to write YA fiction and, even though I'm not the best writer out there, I do still really enjoy a good fiction read - maybe geared towards people a bit older than YA but heck, I'll re-read the Circle of Magic series a hundred times and love it every time. Anyway, my method of self-improvement continuation has been to pick an aspect or trait I'd like to develop in myself, and make it the theme for the year. All my social interactions, all my book choices, the subreddits and blogs I follow, and things I do in my spare time will be colored by that theme (in theory). So, last year was my Funny Year. I worked really hard on my social anxiety, and on my comedic timing. I watched funnier movies, I made comments that I thought were funny but would ordinarily have kept shyly to myself, and when a joke died flat, I laughed that off, too. I can't begin to tell you how much it did for me. I expanded my group of friends, I feel more comfortable in my own sense of humor, and laugh more easily at myself and with others. It was an important thing, too, because all throughout Funny Year I had been working at a corporate learning center, and was the most depressed I'd ever been in my life, solely due to work. Being more confident in small social groups allowed me to build up my support system during this time, and the ability to joke about work probably saved my life. At the end of Funny Year, I quit my job and moved to Brooklyn, feeling a lot more secure in my ability to make new friends and take things less seriously - less fearfully. But I still stumbled over words, and felt like I was physically and characteristically awkward, especially in large groups. So this year has been my Smooth Year. I've been working on things like my posture, the attentiveness I apply when walking (I physically stumble a lot, too), the grace and openness I display in conversations, and most importantly, I'm thinking out what I'd like to say before I say it. I hostessed very consciously this year, and I made the effort to take a few job interviews, and find something a little more suited to my skills. In fact, what I found was a job with an opportunity to expand on my skills, and by being more attentive I've found I can adapt to new tasks a lot more, well, smoothly. Smooth Year has been about collected-ness, calmness, easy humor, and applying my entire mind to projects when I'm working on them. I even quit biting my nails! I catch errors faster, I recover from mistakes more easily, and I feel overall like...I can't think of a word for it. I feel like Jessica Rabbit looks when she walks. Confident, poised, and secure in each step. I know it's not the end of the year yet, but it's cram time for Smooth Year. In the coming month, I'll have a lot more social obligations, and many opportunities to show and review my developing composure. Some ideas for next year: Productivity Year (stop procrastinating, start cleaning more regularly, adhering to gym schedules, etc.) Detox Year (get a handle on my sugar, caffeine, etc. intake and be healthier in general) Smart Year (read new, more informative books, read the news more actively, involve myself in more intellectual discourse, get more involved in my community and local sustainability efforts) Green Year (I am generally conscientious about my carbon impact, but it's always something that is work-on-able) Creativity Year (write more, sew more, cook more, learn to knit) Anyway, to anyone reading this, what is a theme you might want to work on, for yourself?