2016: A Year in Review

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It feels somewhat selfish to say that 2016 was the best year of my life considering the atrocious year it was for humanity in general. However, it may have been. In January of 2016, I moved in with my girlfriend at the time. I was not a fan of the neighborhood to which we moved, but it seemed like the best idea at that point. Little did I know this was basically the beginning of the end for us. In April, we took a trip to Toronto, our third country together and one of the many trips we took together. Traveling was one of the few things we had in common, and even within that vague interest, we disagreed on many aspects of it. Toronto was okay, less spectacular than a few of our other trips. The week after that, I went to Nashville for work. Throughout this period I started to realize I was severely depressed and unhappy with my relationship and where my life was at the time. Shortly after that, we decided it'd be best to break up and move on. This was in June. I was happy for the first time in months, I felt liberated. Throughout the year, I learned from this experience that I would never let another individual discourage me or prohibit me from pursuing my passions. It seemed the world was not going to let me celebrate my newly found freedom. Work was extremely stressful, the organization I work for laid off about half of the department I work in, I got my wallet stolen, I was going through the pain of moving and kept having to deal with minor things like not having gas in my new apartment for a few weeks and worst of all my inline skates were broken. Skating has always been a creative outlet for me. Ever since I was about eight years old, It had always been there for me to help me vent my frustrations and productively skate through my issues. At the time, I was even held back from doing this. I felt like I had hit a new low point in my life. Much like everyone else, it was looking like 2016 was not going to be my year. 

At the end of June, I got a new pair of skates and left for Colombia for ten days. This was a pivotal moment for me this year and this may sound dramatic, but my experience there changed my life. You can read about it here. I came back feeling refreshed and inspired. The rest of my summer felt like a movie. Every weekend was a skating trip, camping trip, road trip, music festival or some kind of party I was involved in. The Windy City Riot pre-party was the first party I ever DJed, this resulted in me deciding to actively pursue DJing for real.

Flyer for my "birhday" party 

Flyer for my "birhday" party 

In the fall, I got involved with an amazing art community called Canvas Chicago and started writing for their website. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and this new endeavor along with the quick success I was experiencing as a DJ was extremely motivating. In fact, at the time and still to this day, I feel more inspired and creative than ever before. In addition to some of my new side projects, I was staying busy in my career as well. In October, I published a few articles through an organization called NAFSA for work. I wrote about the education systems of Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. I also presented some of my research and findings on a few educational reforms in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru at a conference in Milwaukee. Since then, I have been covering the Chicago art scene for Canvas and DJing gigs regularly and overall just pursuing my passions and I have never felt so happy and fulfilled.

In December, I threw a party for myself. Theoretically it was just a celebration, but internally, it was my birthday party. I wanted to celebrate with everyone and not make it about me, but rather about the experience itself. Therefore I decided not to refer to it as my birthday party. I recruited my amazingly talented and creative friends to perform at this party. There was experimental performance art and a mini rap concert. We debuted a Chicago skate video, filmed and edited by my friend Jared Reddrick, that included skating from my friends and myself. I DJed the dance party afterward to end the night. My friends from all over came to support me and I had never felt so humbled. It was truly an amazing and beautiful experience for me.

A few moments from my DJ set at the Voyager after party. 

My 2016 ended at a party called Voyager with some of my closest friends, new and old. It was hands down the greatest night of my life. I was also very privileged to DJ at the after party, where I can objectively say I fucking killed my set. This year has been a crucial year for my own personal development and self-improvement. As previously stated, I have never felt so inspired and creative in my entire life, and it shows. My friends and family have been so supportive of me and the vibes and energy I have received from everyone in my life is truly what keeps me going. I am getting emotional in this coffee shop just thinking about the support and love I have felt throughout this year. A lot of amazing things have happened to me and I am just going to keep riding this wave of momentum life has given me. I understand 2016 was a tough year for society, but on the personal side, it has been the most productive year of my life. Hopefully, what I have accomplished this year will help change some of the awful happenings of 2016 in some way, shape or form in the future. At this point I will just continue to work towards bettering myself and being conscious and woke to the world and what is going around me. I hope everyone stays peaceful and hopeful and inspired for 2017 and onwards. 

Thank you for reading. 

Skate video that was premiered at my party, featuring Cedric Tippet, Louis Sotelo, Jared Reddrick, Josh Dubman, John Gantz, Dan Moroney, Anthony Diandrea, Anthony Esquivel, Joe Dummit, Dave Depew, Tommy Hearn, Rory Melehan, Collin Martin, and Emin Rodriguez