Why 2012 was the best year ever — and 2013 scares me

Happy New Year everyone! I realize I’m slightly late with my 2012 year-in-review; I took the past week off to celebrate the holidays in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau. But you know, better late than never. 

I’ve been extraordinarily lucky: since 2008, every year has been exponentially better than the last. When I was 18, I thought my year spent in China couldn’t be topped; the year after, I had an extraordinary junior year of college and summer spent in Shanghai. In 2010 I graduated and moved to Singapore, and 2011 was spent traveling across Southeast Asia. Every December 31 I think, It couldn’t get better than this. But then came 2012, the best of them yet. Some highlights from this year:

January: New Year’s Eve in Sydney + Moving to Paris

A year ago, I wrote that being in Sydney to celebrate New Year’s was “the perfect beginning for 2012.” I’m a strong believer in starting as you mean to go on and figured with a beginning like that, 2012 could not let me down. With that in mind, three days later I moved to Paris and kicked off my first year in Europe. I spent most of January adjusting to winter weather, taking French classes, and overdoing it on the cheese and baguettes.

March: Ireland

I was ecstatic when I found out Mike’s best friend was getting married in Ireland. We spent a week there in total, visiting Dublin, Galway, and the tiny little town of Ballinasloe where I met Mike’s mates for the first time. The trip made me realize that I never want to go more than a couple years without paying a visit to the Emerald Isle. Read all my Ireland posts here.

Meanwhile in Paris: Spring came, along with Paris fashion week; and I Love My Neighborhood was born.

April: French Riviera

A work trip at the end of April saw me in a tiny town called La Londe-les-Maures, with the Mediterranean literally at my doorstep. Despite it being for work, I spent most of the week biking through vineyards, walking along the beach at sunset, and thoroughly enjoying the slower pace of life found in southern France.

May: Paris

May was one of the most eventful months of the year. On the Paris front the French elections were fascinating to witness; on the blog side I wrote my most popular posts to date, about how to travel after graduation and experiencing racism abroad. And of course, there was that whole getting engaged business.

July-August: Bastille Day + Olympics

The summer was filled with unforgettable high points, including the strange-but-awesome celebrations of Bastille Day, followed by a month in London covering swimming, athletics, and various other events at my first Olympics. Read all my London 2012 posts here.

September-October: Azerbaijan

After London, Azerbaijan was my greatest adventure of 2012. I went in knowing nothing about the country or even the region, and after a month in Baku and Azeri countryside I cannot stop talking about how much I loved my time there. Read my Azerbaijan posts (so far) here.

November: Bristol + London + Versailles

November was the month of friends and family. I spent two and a half weeks entertaining guests: Mike came for a visit from Singapore, my mom from the US, and a girlfriend popped over for a weekend from London. In that time I went to Versailles twice, London twice, and met Mike’s family for the first time at his brother’s wedding in Bristol. I also attended three Thanksgivings, reminding me how lucky I am to have such generous and kind people in my life.

December: Paris + Singapore

December was the month I finally became my usual social butterfly self — a personality I was known for in Asia but lost somewhat when I moved to Paris. Every day was filled with coffee, lunch, and dinner dates meeting new friends and catching up with old ones — which led to plenty of outings to see Paris’ many Christmas markets and festive decorations.

I hardly slept that month — and I don’t think I’d ever been happier in Paris.

I finished the year on a high note: I’m currently in Singapore for the holidays, soaking up the sun and eating all my favorite Asian dishes until my contented little heart explodes from joy and cholesterol.

So why am I scared for 2013? It’s hard to top a year where you lived in Paris, got engaged, and went to the Olympics (among other things). After five consecutive years besting the one that came before, like a long crescendo built up with more and more momentum, I fear my good luck can’t go on anymore. I fear I’ve peaked and that 2013 (which is also the year I officially hit my mid-20s) will disappoint in some terrible way.

Then again, I’m probably completely overreacting. I’ve signed on for another six months in Paris, so 2013 can’t be that bad.

Who else kind of wishes it was still 2012? Who’s extremely excited for 2013?

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  1. Was the other secret reason why 2012 was the best year ever for you because you got to hang out with me & Tony at the very tail end of it? It was, wasn’t it? :) Don’t worry – we’ll just have to top it by meeting up TWICE in 2013!

    And yes, despite the cost, your posts on Azerbaijan have now catapulted it onto my travel wish list!

  2. If anyone can top it, you can. And I can’t wait to see you do so! So many incredible adventures!

  3. I think we should go to Northern Ireland together at some point in 2013. Just saying.

    And don’t be silly! You have so much to look forward to. And you’re not in your mid-twenties until 25, obviously.

  4. That first picture of the Eiffel Tower is amazing! I’m sure 2013 will be just as good or even better…particularly with the engagement and extending your contract, it seems to me that 2012 was just preparation for 2013!

    • Gotta love the winter sunrises in Paris :) Thanks for the lovely comment Alana, I love your optimism and certainly hope you’re right!

  5. What an amazing 2012, indeed! I’m excited to see how you’re going to even top it in 2013.

  6. Gurl pleaseeee.. I understand how you feel. I too thought what is called ‘life’ is pretty much over after mid-twenties and a wedding. Turns out, so much remains to be seen and done. Your 2012 was awesome and the way you talk about your previous years shows us all how much you appreciate what you have been blessed with. With an attitude like that, everything in your life will only get better and better :)

    • Awwww thanks Grace! That is so very sweet of you. And thanks for the optimistic words about life post-mid-twenties!

  7. 2012 was a good year for me in that I moved to San Francisco, but it was also kind of a wash in that I had to start over. Unlike you, I’d never moved to a new city, and so the feeling of leaving behind my entire social and career network was more than a little unnerving. I feel like now that it’s 2013 I’m finally getting to a comfortable place again, so I’m really excited for the new year!

    Don’t worry, I can’t see your life slowing down anytime soon! I’m sure you’ll have a great year- just maybe not quite so eventful, 2012 would be hard to top!

  8. Looks like it was an amazing 2012!

    And I have faith that you are going to top it :-) Happy New Year, Edna!

  9. 2013 will be amazing. I can feel it!! xx

  10. Wow, that really is quite a year. Maybe 2013 is the year to relax.

  11. What an amazing year!
    aaand I’m pretty sure you’ll find a way to top that.
    It might not be in the same way as 2012, but you’ll top it :)

  12. Be open, see where it takes you. “Better” depends on your definition :)

  13. You really did have a terrific year! I can understand your fear, but you have to shake it off. With a dreamy fiance and a wedding to plan, work and travel opportunities sure to develop and (I’m guessing) a wide circle of friends, your year will be as great as you make it. 2012 was one of my best years to date, but I know 2013 will be just as good. The older I get I realize that we have a lot of control over our own happiness, as long as we are open to the possibilities that abound!

  14. You’ve had such a fantastic year!!! I think 2013 is going to be great – half of 2012 I was still in high school and honestly anything can beat that haha!! It’ll be exciting for you to find out where the year brings you. As for me, I hope it brings a lot of travel and I have a feeling it just might :)

  15. Wow…You are enjoying your life better year after year and exploring the world. You visited such nice places in past and I hope this year also adds something new and more enjoyable for you. Keep it on and you can do it. Don’t be afraid of 2013 as it is going to rock.

  16. You’re telling me.. I’m terrified of 2013. It’ll be hard for the both of us to top 2012 but let’s try together! :)

  17. What a beautiful year you’ve had!!!! I think 2013 is going to be even more amazing for you… I think your attitude towards life and your goals are what keep you going, and what makes things happen!! Chin up, and always remember to be yourself. :)
    Personally, I’m glad to be out of 2012, it was a difficult year for me on an emotional scale. The post you wrote about your grandmother hit me to the core, as my own grandmother passed away over the Christmas holidays in 2012, after I had promised her I would be there for Christmas (in the end, I could not, as D-Man and I made the move to Belfast), and the morning we arrived on the Emerald Isle, I received news that she had passed away before I could even call her to tell her of my safe arrival. I think 2012 was the year I was really able to process what it means to live abroad in the long-term. Being an expat is filled with so many wonderful experiences and priceless moments, but at times at the price of huge sacrifice, especially when you’re close to family and friends back home.
    But, I too, will keep my chin up, because all we really can do is forgive ourselves and move forward. Here’s to 2013 being SPECTACULAR. :)

  18. Wow, you’ve had quite the year. Congratulations on all your accomplishments and especially on the engagement. I can relate to how you’re feeling about what if what’s to come doesn’t top what’s already happened. But lately my husband and I have just been reflecting on how whether we’re exploring Machu Picchu or just sitting home watching a movie, it’s all time that is precious. So even if your 2013 isn’t as impressive on paper as 2012 (which I’m sure it will be!), take comfort in knowing that all our time, our experiences, are in their own way worth cherishing.

  19. 2012 certainly treated you well :) I loved catching up on all of your past travels and can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for you.


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