2023 was probably the best year of my life so far. And there are plenty of reasons why this is a fact. Most of them involve travel, work, experiences and wishes coming true. A few involve my personal life. And some are about loss and the transformative power of disappointment. My point is that having the best year of your life so far doesn’t have to be all fireworks and cheesecake.
Great years are all about balance. They come in both the beauty and the beast. This 2023 was a special breed especially because the good triumphed over the bad more than ever before, and I was able to face the unpleasant more maturely than ever. That’s the tip of the iceberg. Here’s why 2023 was incredible for me:
- I’m healthy and in one piece
You need to be at least 30 to appreciate good health. A year ago I’d have never even thought about this as a primary reason for a great year. Yet with people around me suffering from this and that disease, I’m very grateful to be in one piece and still kicking at the end of 2023.
- I’m mentally sane
Mental health is as important as physical well-being. In 2023 I feel like I’ve done much better in this sector than in previous years. I’m still not emotionally smart but I’m stable. I am… boringly sane. And that’s wonderful!
- My family still counts the same as on January 1st
You know you’ve had a great year when your immediate family headcounts the same as it did at the start of the year. Nobody went away. Everybody is somewhat healthy (this is still Romania, okay?) considering the crazy times we’re living in. Nothing matters more than family. NOTHING. I’m very grateful for mine.
- I moved out
Look, I moved out before. But it only ended in disaster. Nowadays, I moved out on my terms, exactly how I wanted it. It was the right time for me to do this. And I’m very glad I did it!
- I love my new apartment
I searched for over a year for an apartment to meet my high standards. Which were, to be larger than a shoebox, and to have hot water in the bathroom. This feels like home to me now, and I love it.
- My job is a hit
After 10 years of freelancing, I finally found a job. I enjoy it so much, in fact, I’m thinking about ways of improving my work even when I’m not at work. I’m paid a fixed salary so I don’t have to do that. Yet I do it because I enjoy it more than the length of my paycheck allows me to. I never thought this was possible as a freelancer. But it is. You should try it sometime.
- I’m no longer a freelancer
Gone are the neverending paychecks. Gone is the freedom to go everywhere, at any time. But also gone are the uncertainties, the stress of not finding clients, or being ghosted by the current one on payday. Gone are the pointless trips in exchange for the more meaningful and enjoyable ones. In with the stability, out with the uncertainty. Not a bad deal after all considered!
- I’ve been to New York
A big part of the 23 reasons why 2023 was amazing (I had to go for 23, okay?!) is about travel. I’ll take it easier with travel in 2024 but still, this remains my greatest hobby and joy. I’m still not over the idea of living off of travel someday. I will do it! Yet out of all the incredible places I’ve been to this year, New York is unbeatable. With that moment when I first saw the skyline from the back of my yellow cab, gipsy cab, dollar cab. Until the very end when my trip came to a finish. Memorable. #tears
- I’ve been to Washington D.C.
From the first moment I saw a CNN show at age 9 or so, I dreamed about seeing that little white house I saw on the television with my own eyes. Walking the streets of D.C. with my own feet, seeing the places with my own eyes, riding the metro, going inside the Capitol building, touring around the White House… What a memorable thing to do!
- I heard an iceberg sing
Iceland came after America. And the most incredible thing that has happened during my week there? I heard an iceberg sing. I mean, it cracked and bumped and stretched. Right before my eyes and years. Out of all my travels, it was one of the greatest moments of my entire 31 years of existence here on this pale blue dot.
- I saw a majestic waterfall
Skogafoss is the most impressive waterfall I’ve ever seen. It looks like the veil of a bride, only 1000 times larger. And when you stay right beneath it, inches away from the powerful water, you feel the presence of something greater than anything human. If you don’t believe in a god, go to Iceland and visit a few waterfalls. Stand near them. Look up.
You will feel, what cannot be seen.
- I ate at a Michelin-star restaurant
Petrus By Gordon Ramsay was my choice for my first experience in the world of Michelin-star places. And yes, it was an incredible experience. Not sure the price was completely worth it but the food and service were surely out of the ordinary. I loved it. Especially them cleaning my table 12 times with a little cleaning thingy. Wow!
- I had the best sandwich in the world
Katz Delicatessen in New York City is the most famous restaurant in America. The country that made a religion out of food. That is a BIG statement to be made about a restaurant. And within its walls, they serve the best sandwich I’ve ever had. I don’t care about how this place has 40.000 reviews, has been in this or that movie, or that it is touristy and overpriced. That sandwich was THE BEST I’ve ever had, period. Surreal to think two pieces of bread can taste so good if you know what to put between them!
- I saw three Broadway shows
Broadway has been a dream of mine ever since I first heard the word “musical”. Seeing three Broadway shows on my first trip to the city was no easy feat, especially with an overbearing jetlag. But the feeling you get being there, admiring the very best of the best actors, musicians, technicians, you name it… that’s worth the ridiculous prices and queuing times. Again!
- I saw the best musical on the planet
Although Broadway was a dream come true, the best show I’ve ever seen in my life was in London’s West End. Or the European Broadway. “Phantom of the Opera” was just spectacular. With the chandelier coming up on those chilling beats, the story, the main characters… I just can’t put it into words how emotional that was. And I write for a living.
- I got scared at the most dangerous beach on earth
I never get scared or anxious but I do get a bit panicky at times. Like when I board ANY plane smaller than my apartment. Or when I was on this beach in Iceland, it rained and it was cold, the wind was strong and there were killer waves (that’s the actual name of these things!) and it looked like a scene from Game of Thrones. I’ve never seen the series but my imagination is abundant. This beach, covered in a thick layer of black sand and stones, is terrifying. With those rocks coming out of the ocean, and the walls of ballast columns on one side… what a place!
- I met incredible people
I work in an office with 9 other girls. NINE! It’s been one year since I joined the office and honestly, these people are amazing. Crazy, fun, extremely hard-working, passionate about their jobs, interesting, you name it. They, along with my other colleagues and the partners I’m working with through my job, make for some amazing new friends I’ve been able to make in 2023. Which was never the case while I was a freelancer. I’m very grateful for every one of these people who came into my life.
- I hiked the Cinque Terre trail
These were by far the hardest 2 days of 2023. And probably the most beautiful as well. Yes, I’ve been to New York but hiking on a trail, alone, with just your thoughts and pain, is transformative. It turns you into a greater person if you survive the neverending stairs. I did and, if you’re ever in Italy, go and do the hike. I’m begging you. You’ll enjoy pasta so much more, trust me!
- I got a girlfriend
Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are!
- I lost some friends
They didn’t die. But sometimes, people leave. They either go out slowly or simply vanish from your life. And if there’s something that I learned over the past 12 months is that it is better to let people do and be exactly what what and how they wish to be. I’m done trying to change people. It’s only normal to keep the right people close and let the others go if that’s what they decide to do.
- I got a new hair and beard trim
I paid 50 bucks for a new haircut in the middle of autumn of this year. It was at this fancy place in the city centre and yeah, it was worth it for the first cut or two. My beard before Cut Zero looked like that of a cocaine addict. Now, it looks good, and I’m no longer ashamed of going out of my house to shop for grapes. My point is, it’s okay to spend money for a good purpose.
- I’m okay with who I am
Really. I’m still a bit overweight and my teeth are not even halfway there yet but I’m clever, I’m funny (or so people say) I love my job and am good at it, I love my family and have great friends. Whatever I do or whoever I become from now on, I’m cool with it. And that’s peaceful.
- I didn’t die
Wars, diseases, floods and earthquakes, “stress”, the list goes on and on. Yet here I am, writing another blog post for the internet at the end of the year. I don’t even know how many of these I’ve done but there are a few of them. Being and staying alive is a challenging feat these days. I’m grateful to be here and for not losing anyone dear to me during 2023. It’s been a great year.