I don't think I have ever felt and experienced life as deeply as I did in 2016.

When January 2016 rolled around nearly a year ago, I was adjusting. Up until that point, that's all I ever did -- I tailored my life so that I could adapt easily to change, anticipate what was coming, and try to twist it in a favorable direction. It's the internal optimist within me.

But sometimes (okay, a lot of times) it didn't really work out that way in the past. I typically hope for the best and expect the worst, but I am a romantic at heart and often times the hope overtakes the expectations and I am left feeling distorted, like I could've prevented something I couldn't have.

Truthfully, you can't spend your whole life waiting on the future so you can protect the future's future. And I was realizing that at the end of 2015. I had finished my first semester of college and I was coming to terms with the fact that my calculations for myself and my life aren't always right, no matter how much I try to force it that way. Naturally, I tried to adjust to this concept for 2016.

It worked.

2016 was challenging. Everything came in waves, sometimes too soon and other times not soon enough. I submitted some life-changing applications. I tried to look at myself and my habits in a more open and positive light. I decided to use my abilities, what few I believed I had, to try and help others. I became more fixated on pushing my goals from becoming abstract thoughts to concrete realities.

I learned a lot in 2016. I think that my favorite things I learned this year were:

1. Don't underestimate the importance of communication.

2. Relationships are so important, whether they're with your friends, family, or a significant other. Take a break to go out for coffee or grab dinner. Get to know people.

3. Do everything with meaning. If you feel like something you're doing isn't meaningless, or won't lead to something meaningful eventually, whether it's meaningful to you or someone else, don't do it.

4. Don't be afraid to ask questions. The weird questions, the hard questions, the interesting questions.

5. Take time to be upset, and then take more time assessing the situation. It's okay to have a grace period to marinate in your feelings, but then you need to start looking at it critically.

6. Don't be afraid to be human. There will be times where you will feel like you're being selfish or heartwrenchingly jealous or some other ridiculously normal and human trait. Don't beat yourself up for it.

7. If you don't like something, either leave or change it. Depending on the situation.

8. Take a day every few months or so to reflect on where you're at, what you think you could be doing better, and the progress you've made.

9. If you need to disappear for a day to get your life together and get things done, do it. And get stuff done.

10. The Theory of Everything soundtrack is a dream to work to.

11. Do things with an ending in mind. It'll shape your beginning and during a lot easier.

12. Don't settle for complacency.

13. Don't be the smartest person in the room. If you feel like you are, find a new room where you're not.

I also got to do some pretty kickass things in 2016. I worked at Pinterest for the summer. I got better (way, way better) at coding. I got to drive a Porsche. I lived in San Francisco for the summer and met some of the best people during my time there. I met the CEO of XBOX and had breakfast with him. I attended GDC. I gave a TED Talk. I got robbed on Market Street and I turned around, stood my ground, and demanded back my possessions from the people that robbed me (to paraphrase this story a lot). I had dance parties in my living room. I accepted a lot of my mistakes. I met so many life-changing people. I threw a few surprise birthday parties. I won a hackathon. I snuck away to Virginia for a weekend to see a friend I hadn't seen in 2 years. I went to Hawaii. I saw one of my favorite bands in concert.

But of course, I want 2017 to change my life even more. And since this wouldn't be a ~me~ post without infinite amounts of lists, here are some things I want to work on in 2017:

1. Being on time. (Self explanatory, I just want to actually get to events when they begin.)

2. Working on communication. (Sorry to all of my friends that complain about my texting skills. It's about to be a lot better.)

3. Writing more things down. Lists, song lyrics, ideas. Not on my phone, but on literal paper.

4. Taking (real) notes in class. I just really need to start taking (paper) notes in class. Oh, man.

6. Learning a new language.

7. Working on more designs/art/media.

8. Take more photos. Capture everything. Remember it all.

9. Be more organized (and stay more organized.)

10. Get coffee with a new person every month in 2017.

11. Listening more.

I think that 2016, aside from a lot of rough patches, interesting situations, and perspective changes, was a fascinating and entertaining year of tremendous growth and new experiences. I wish I could put into words how many times 2016 has surprised me and made me stop and think. I am forever fascinated by the unpredictability of life and how that has especially reflected into this past year and the situations I have had the privilege of being part of. All in all, I know that I am extremely fortunate to be closing out 2016 in a better state of mind than I ever could've imagined me being in. I wish for nothing but heaps of positive change and dashes of pleasant surprise wherever I end up in 2017.