Year Twenty-Two

I was talking to one of my mentors this past week about my recent struggles. He listened. Then he reminded me of what we do as storytellers - we seek to document and share stories. But what makes a good story?

In its most basic form, a good story includes a person who has a goal and overcomes struggle to achieve that goal. During the journey, there is change that comes from overcoming said struggle.

As Donald Miller says, “somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we actually live in.

Though we strive for a perfect life, not only is that something that is unachievable, but it’s also something that would cause us to plateau, to stop growing.

Year 22 was probably the most challenging year thus far. I experienced the highest of highs in graduating from Syracuse University and returning home for a bit to spend time with my family.

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I also experienced real lows in moving to another state by myself, trying to acclimate to a new space, starting all over, and dealing with the physical and mental effects that this stress caused.

Through this, Year 22 taught me the importance of allowing myself to seek help when I realize that I cannot do everything all by myself. I’m so thankful for my supportive family and all that they’ve done and continue to do to ensure I continue on my path. It taught me struggle and it has been slowly showing me the growth that stems from it.

Year 22 made me realize the importance of truly understanding my passion. This has allowed me to expand the amount of things I can do with it - learning to use different mediums, mentoring, and further enjoying what I do.

Year 22 reaffirmed the golden rule. The rule that tells us to treat others as we would wish to be treated. The rule that my mom has told me to live by since I can remember. When others don’t abide by it, remind them of the rule. I’ve come to understand that not everyone is going to like me, but they have to respect me.

Year 22 reinforced the idea that it truly takes a village to achieve success. I’m so grateful for everyone that has supported me in my endeavors during the past year.

Year 22 taught me that I define what success is for me. Everyone’s path is different. Coming to terms with this has helped me stay focused on the path I’m blazing. I know that if I constantly work hard, results will surely follow.

Year 22 showed me that I can set goals and then follow through by doing everything in my power to meet my own expectations. This year, I competed for one of two TEDxUNC student spots, and though I ultimately wasn’t selected, I finally put together a presentation that I was proud of and that I feel can inspire others. I’ll just think of it as practice for next year.

Year 22 helped me realize it is important to live in the present, in the moment. Trying to take it all in because life moves so fast. Acknowledging small victories is important.

Year 22 highlighted the importance of friendship – especially when one is going through challenging times.

I appreciate you, Jackie, for always being just one phone call away. For always listening. And for always giving me the best possible advice. See you soon.

I appreciate you, Manny, for being the best brother I never had. I know that you’re always there for whatever I need and that means a lot. I also want to thank you and Geo for taking time out of your day and meeting up to celebrate my birthday.

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Year 22 confirmed my love for mentorship. Over the past couple of months, I’ve used several opportunities to talk to students about the importance of what we do and share all that I’ve learned about visual storytelling.

Facilitating a class in video journalism at  Randolph Community College . Thank you to Khadejeh Nikouyeh and Jay Capers for the opportunity.

Facilitating a class in video journalism at Randolph Community College. Thank you to Khadejeh Nikouyeh and Jay Capers for the opportunity.

Year 22 taught me the importance of understanding emotions, learning how to control them, and working toward growing my emotional intelligence. Because “intelligence can come to nothing if emotions hold sway.”

Year 22 proved to me that Year 23 will be what I make of it.