There's no doubt that 2015 was a year of firsts. My first job, my first defense ever, my first taste of independence... Today, I'm listing down the biggest events (no order) of last year and saying a few words about why it was chosen. 

1. Senior Project Defense

I will never forget this day, to be sure. February 27, 2015 - not your average Friday. It was the day all of us soon-to-be-graduates in the Animation course would show their demo reels to a panel for judging and/or revisions. I had been trying to go out of my way to insert something 2D animated to break the 3D and motion graphic "mindset" of our teachers, but making sure all the required portions were there at the same time made it difficult. 

All of us were dressed in our best business attire, notebook and pen in hand to write down notes while the assessment went on. I wasn't prepared at all, but I am equally thankful I passed the first time. I literally cried when I learned I would be following two of the best students from our batch. Thank God I'm done with it.

2. Graduation Day

Of course, how could I forget my own graduation? Yes, the togas were hot. Yes, the caps did nothing to make our attire comfortable. Oh, and yes, I finished with honors. I'm proud to say my days of studying and hard work (well, with a little procrastinating and malling here and there) paid off. I graduated Cum Laude, which I think is okay for the amount of effort I put in. What if I had given my 100% though? Haha. I wonder. The date was March 28, 2015.

3. First Solo Domestic Flight

As much as I want independence, every "first" makes me nervous. It was the same when I had to travel to Manila from Naga via plane to attend my cousin's wedding. I had just started my driving lessons too, so add that to the factors that caused my jitters. I didn't have time to pack what I really needed, so armed with my laptop bag and a few personals, I headed to the airport. By the time I arrived in Manila (delayed by an hour or two), it was too late to actually shop for what I wanted. I rushed to get formal attire before the mall closed (with my aunt's help) and hit the sack as early as I could (though I wasn't really able to get much sleep).

4. Renting a Condo in Manila

This was the most challenging, most fun, most stressful, most independent situation I had ever had to face, ever. I wrote about this on my article regarding my job hunting experience (see link in the next point), that I had to quickly learn how to manage my money, to save, and to stop from bawling every night because I was too far from my family. Even now, I'm still struggling, but I'll get there eventually. 

I was pushed into independence by my own thoughtless decisions, and I had to face the consequences. I chose what was happening, and if I was given the chance to redo that period, I'd still willingly go through it. I learned a lot in the month of June (the length I stayed), and though we spent thousands (sorry, mom and dad) to get that unit, I will forever look back to the time I was forced to grow up.

5. Job Hunting

The struggle, though, the struggle. The day after graduation, I was immediately welcomed into the "Unemployed" category of young professionals. I was scared to disappoint those who've placed such high value on my skills, so I just applied to every job I was qualified for. Abroad, local, online, you name it. I had gotten responses from almost all of them, but something held me back. Until now, I still don't know why I didn't say 'yes' to the first job that I got offered (contrary to what we were taught). Read about my job hunting experience here

6. Getting Employed by Nueca

God is really full of surprises. I went to Manila looking for a job there, when all I had to do was look in my own backyard. Nueca came at the time I thought I would be stuck where I was for the year. I didn't doubt I'd get a job before the year ended, but right then? Not at all. It was July and most of my batch mates had gone into freelancing (as I was, too). I wanted experience in a real office, so as much as I was more comfortable online, I didn't settle. On July 6, 2015, I was officially hired.

I am so, so glad that Nueca was there. I knew in an instant it was the perfect place for me at the time since it was only a short walk from our home, it paid almost the same as I would've been in Manila, and my boss is a former teacher in Ateneo. What an awesome surprise. 

7. Numerous Online Freelancing Clients

2015 was also the year my presence in the freelancing world was felt. I signed in to a lot of online websites like Upwork, Online Jobs PH, and Freelancer, and it's just amazing at how many people need others to work for them. As of now, I am still doing a little freelancing (mostly writing jobs) and have earned a lot since I started (saving the money isn't really a skill I possess yet). 

It just humbles me that my work displayed in my online portfolio was enough for them to reach out and take a chance with me. It's a learning process everyday, and even if freelancing is amazing, it has its downsides as well. I've had almost-clients who acted like jerks and had incredibly "superior" tendencies. Once I knew it wouldn't work out, I cut the deal and moved on. 

8. The Indy Miss Social Branding

I had always wanted to brand my work with something that says "me" all over it. Last year, I finally set things in motion and invested in that identity. 

I bought my own domain, decided my color palette (pastels and light greys to white), bought a blog template (I just didn't have time and enough skills to design my blog the way I really wanted it), I set up a Facebook page for my blog and one for my art stuff, joined communities on Twitter and Instagram, fixed my portfolio, and (recently) set up a Paypal Business account for online payments (my old one was problematic - dang, Paypal, get your head on right). 

This is still a process I'm in, and I know I'll be tweaking more of my brand this year to fit what I do best and what I want to be known for.

9. Determining my Blood Type

It turns out that I'm an O+, and that it's very common to be one. However, because of this, I now know that my diet has to change based on what works best for my blood type (my mom isn't buying it though). I am now determined as ever to develop a fit lifestyle and keep doing it. Losing weight has not been easy, and even though I previously went to the gym, my pounds have returned since I stopped, if not added more to my previous weight. *Sigh. I need to get back to the gym. 

What are those things you are thankful for the past year? I'd love to know about them!