As 2017 comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on all this year has taught me.
In 2017, I boarded 94 flights- the most I have ever flown in the course of one year’s time. But at first, I wasn’t satisfied with this number. I kept thinking, “I need to hit 100. I have to.” As the end of the year approached, I decided to make it my goal.
But as time went on, plans changed as they always do. There was supposed to be at least 5 other flights added to this number that would have helped me reach my goal, but as I have mentioned before, Non-Rev traveling calls for flexibility. Instead of flying to meet family over Thanksgiving, we drove. Instead of going to New York for a day-trip in December, I stayed home and rested. Instead of flying through Atlanta to get to Tampa, I took a direct flight. 5 flights right there that would have made that number “99”, and then an easy persuasion to take just one more flight to round out the number. But alas, it didn’t happen.
That Thanksgiving road-trip ended up being one of the best family-bonding experiences, bringing back nostalgia from our childhood. That connection in Atlanta that I decided to fore-go would have costed me an entire two days visit with my brother in Tampa, as there was snow in Atlanta that weekend and flights were getting cancelled. After flying direct, I had one of the best weekends of my adulthood in Tampa, Florida, a statement I would not have been able to make if I had added that flight into my travel plan.
The day I was to go to NYC, I called my mom saying that I was utterly exhausted, but wanted to still make the trip up for the day so that I could, “Get two more flights under my belt before the end of the year, and try to reach 100”. She replied saying, “Kelly, that is actually sick”.
Thank God I listened to my mom and came home that day, or else I would have been stuck in New York for days on end with just the clothes on my back. That New York day-trip I skipped? Would have cost me at least 4 days of family-time over Christmas Break as I would have gotten stuck in New York due to the Atlanta Airport power outage. It would have been a complete nightmare to say the least.
I was going to put my stupid, pride-filled goal ahead of my body’s need for rest and relaxation with family. All this to say- sometimes if you are too set on moving forward, you may miss out on the beautiful moments in the present. All of these flights-not-taken were blessings in disguise, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for a second.
This year I set out to take risks, be independent, and learn more about myself. I am grateful to say in complete confidence that I feel like I know who I am and who I want to be more-so now than ever.
In January, I took a poll about whether or not I should go to New York on whim, and the people said yes. I went. I ended up making an impression on a casting director that carried through the rest of the year.
In February, I went on a weekend cruise to Mexico with a group of people I had never met (except for the person who invited me). I went, and while I can still claim that I am not a huge cruise fan, it was one of my most spontaneous, fun adventures of 2017.
March took me all over the map, from Tampa to Atlanta to New York to Disneyland to Texas and The Florida Keys. Tampa allowed me to dip my toes into my new-found love of adulthood. Atlanta became my rejuvenation station. New York brought me a new opportunity that I had been working towards and finally made happen. Disneyland was pure magic. Texas brought me new cultural experiences, like line dancing. And the Florida Keys introduced me to a whole new chapter of family memories to be made. I thought my travelling had peaked in March.
But then came April. I moved out of my LA house, attended a screening in Nashville, walked the red carpet in Chicago, laughed with friends at Santa Monica Pier, took an aerial silks class in Atlanta, relaxed on Hermosa Beach, supported my aunt at her show in New York City, flew to Cincinnati, roamed the streets of Paris, and ended up back in New York City. My address was Cloud 9.
And things did not slow down in May and June. I commuted back and forth between New York and LA, getting a taste of what life is really like as a bicoastal actor. I learned how to navigate and balance the lifestyle I have chosen to live.
As June slipped into July, I spent 10 days in The Florida Keys with family and friends, making memories to last a lifetime. I then proceeded to work in New York for three weeks, and to this day it was my favorite New York summer I’ve ever had. This three-week period taught me more about myself than ever before, and I have carried these lessons with me through this semester.
August was full of commuting to LA from Atlanta, navigating relationships with friends and family and also starting the quest for a healthier lifestyle. I really learned what my priorities are.
I was lucky enough to be based out of Atlanta in September because of work. It was hands down the best experience I have had thus far in this industry and honestly one of the best experiences of my life.
I made it back to LA in October, and even squeezed in a trip to my beloved Manhattan. LA tried to chew me up and spit me out, and it almost did. But I learned to stick up for myself, stay true to who I am, and not take anyone’s sh**.
November had me flying back and forth from LA to New York again, but were priceless experiences. If you had told me a year ago I would get to do the things I did, I would have laughed and said “that sounds like a dream”. I learned that waiting for the right timing is more rewarding in the end- instead of forcing things to happen, let them happen. Only then will your expectations be exceeded beyond your wildest dreams.
Finally, December capped off the year. I celebrated my 21st birthday in New York and Tampa, probably the best week of my life. I learned to let go, but most importantly I learned who my true friends are and the value of having good people in your life. I flew back to LA with this ideal, and had one of the busiest and best weeks there that I had had since I moved back. And I came home for Christmas fully ready to take a break and enjoy time spent with family.
What a year, 2017.
I can’t wait for what’s in store for 2018. I have said for the past 6 months now that I am “not going to travel as much”, or that I am “going to settle down” this upcoming year. But as I sit down and type this now, I laugh. I know this won’t be true. But here is what’s going to change:
I’m not going to try to escape. I’m not going to try to hit some number of flights, or try to reach any sort of “travel goal”. I’m not going to try.
I’m gonna do. I’m gonna LIVE. If I escape, I escape. If I decide to take a trip, then that’s what I’ll do. I’m not going to overanalyze and overthink one of my favorite pastimes- traveling. I’m going to stay present and live life to the fullest.
An actor’s life is never settled down. It’s always up in the air (and for me, quite literally). I don’t know why I told myself I would settle down in 2018. Maybe I saw everyone’s differing reactions to my travels and decided I need to live a normal life and simmer down a bit?
To hell with that. 2017 has taught me one of the most valuable life lessons- the value of experience. I want to experience life.
And that’s exactly what I plan to do as I:
Fly Into The Future