2016: A Year in Review

Quick Stats:

Pictures taken: 9,200. Not kidding.

Young Life events: 3. One in North Carolina, one in Virginia, and one in Tanzania, Africa.

Hours on an airplane: 50.

Cans of Dr. Pepper consumed: Probably a bajillion.

Road trips: 6.

Spotify playlists made: 4.

Number of times I cried over a kid’s movie: 372.

Blog posts: 84


I kicked off the new year in the absolute best way possible: spending the weekend at Young Life Camp in the mountains of North Carolina. The sweet friends I met there came and stayed in my apartment for days after so I could show them around the Queen City (Charlotte). Exploring the city with people from all over the country was the coolest experience.

On the blog in January: Thoughts During the First Week of Class and the intro to a blog series, Tuesdays with Tess. 


In February, I actually paid attention to sports. And even wore a Panthers shirt. Who am I? I wrote one of the blog’s most popular posts – of all time, Ask Me About My Road Trip (where I got really real about my breakup) and shared some of my favorite prom pictures from high school.


I began my application to the Public Health program at my school (you can read my personal statement here). March was one of the most trying months of this year as I was applying for my major, declaring a minor, and also preparing for one of the biggest adventures of my life…but more on that later.

I also stood in front of the Supreme Court in the early hours of a Washington, DC morning, declaring my dedication and my commitment to women’s rights (more here).


April…the COOLEST experience going to a drive-thru ZOO! One of my long time best friends Mackinzie came to Charlotte to visit and we had the best time. On the blog, I wrote about my frustration with being a stay at home mom and encouraged more research surrounding a controversial bill in North Carolina.


Right around the beginning of May, a group of friends and I packed up our cars and drove to camp with mini horses. Not joking. I probably cried of happiness the whole entire time.

I also reflected on my second year of college in this blog post, because boy did I learn a whole lot.


At the beginning of the summer, I broke the news to Always, S: I WAS GOING TO TANZANIA! I spent this month packing, shopping, and spending time with my family before I took off on my big adventure. AND MY SISTER GRADUATED FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL. WHAT?!



Y’all already know how I feel about July. Here’s a recap:

I’ve tried a lot to explain the trip – I wrote about the magic (one of the blog’s most popular posts), I shared some notes from my diary, and remembered what it was like to live in a village. There are two words to describe this journey to Tanzania and my journey to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and those two words are Holy. Shit.



In August, right before reality set back in with school, I went off to Young Life Camp and volunteered. For a week, I woke up and served mothers and their babies. And it was the best week I’ve ever had. I was in HEAVEN since I was assigned to the “bunny” nursery: 8 month olds. My FAVORITE age! While the moms participated in their own camp, the volunteers held, snuggled, fed, changed, and played with over one HUNDRED babies from only 3 weeks old to almost in Kindergarten. I’m so thankful to have experienced YoungLives alongside my younger cousin, Haley. Growing up in a big family, one on one relationships are easily overlooked since you’re told to just group together and include everybody. While that mentality is a MUST when you’re one of 8 grandkids, I so appreciated my alone time with her! On the blog, I talked about what Young Life means to me (with a video!) and I gave you some tips for the first week of class.


In September, right after the fall semester started, I made a crazy impulse decision and joined a sorority.

So many of my friends were shocked when I told them I wanted to rush a sorority. I’d never pictured myself as the one who would willingly put herself in the middle of 200 other girls or follow all of the rituals and rules I’d heard about. But I knew that because I was halfway through college, and since I was always curious about greek like, it was now or never. I talked to my mama, signed up for formal recruitment, and then ate 179 strawberry sprinkle donuts because I was stressed about what to wear. I also wrote about common myths I’ve heard about sororities and the real truth.


In October, I laid low on the blog because I was right in the middle of the semester with new sorority stuff, new friends, midterms, and my internship with a local health alliance.



Oh, November. The peak of tailgating and the beginning of the holiday season. At this point, I felt like the semester just kept getting busier and busier.



And now here we are. The end of the year. I’ve just gotten back from a girl’s week in New York City and preparing for the new semester to start.

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As I look back on 2016, I honestly think it was the busiest year I’ve ever had. How many times have I said “busy” in this post? Probably 247. But this year was also one of the BEST. I’ve never felt more loved by my friends and family. I think this really was time for reflection and time to spend on myself and my community.

What’s next?

I’m not quite sure. Oops. Is that bad? I’ve been thinking about doing some re-arranging on Always, S, but I’m too scared to commit. I’ll keep writing and posting as much as I can until I decide to take the plunge on a change. I haven’t posted as much as I would’ve liked this year (a small 84 posts compared to 2015’s 120), but I want to say

thank you. So so much.

I was going to avoid sounding like someone who’s accepting an award, but here it goes. Thank you for reading my rambles, watching my videos, and scrolling through too many pictures (because I can never decide which to include). Thank you for keeping up with me on social media and helping me pick out fancy dresses on Twitter (I’m serious – this was a big discussion one night with some of my blogger friends and I love them for it). To my family, thanks for proof-reading, helping pick out colors for my design, showing your friends my blog, keeping packages with blogger gifts and sponsored stuff safe at home before I can get to them, and suggesting new post ideas. I’ve learned this year how important my community truly is. I’ve always said I’m grateful for family and friends, but these 12 months gave the word “grateful” a whole new meaning.

2017, I have high expectations. Let’s make it good.
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  • Wow, you did some AMAZING things this year and looks like you created so many happy memories. Wishing you much success and more fun trips in the next year. Happy New Year!

  • Your year looks so filled with happiness and wonderful adventures. Your beautiful soul radiates from your words. I always love reading your blog and I can’t wait to read more about your life in 2017!

  • i love this and I was in love with all your july posts! this is such a great way to look back on your year!
    xo, hannah

  • I love this way of looking back on your year! Here’s to a great 2017!

  • Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew

    I love this breakdown of your year! Such a fun story to tell through pictures!

  • You have had SUCH a year, and I loved getting to read all about it and follow your adventures through your blog 🙂 I really enjoyed your post about the stigma surrounding stay at home moms!

    XO, SS || Seersucker Sass

  • Looks like you had such a great year!!!! so many great memories.