2013: My biggest challenge & my greatest adventure.

Two thousand and thirteen.

That may have been the number of emotions I felt last year.

At the end of 2012, I remember writing several New Year’s resolutions for 2013. These were three of them:

  1. Visit at least two new countries.
  2. Challenge yourself and believe in yourself.
  3. No sweets, except for Sprinkles cupcakes.

Two thirds of my resolutions held true.

Here’s a little explanation of the roller coaster that 2013 was.

I started January off by watching airplanes land over Maho Bay in Sint Maarten with great camp friends and pops. This was a bucket list item and an experience I still can’t get over.

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Then it was back to school to start my final semester of undergrad. My last semester was full of joy, friendship and so much love.

We spent spring break in a killer lake house near Gruene, Texas. I’d never done the “traditional college spring break,” but when you’re with good people in a great place, it makes for the best memories.

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Then, March to May just kind of flew by in one huge blur.

For four years, I consistently felt like I had just arrived to UNT… then out of no where and when I was the least prepared,  it was like someone tapped me on my back and gave me the thumb over the shoulder, signaling the way out. March to May were full of emotions… Suddenly, my dorm room was packed up, my classes were over and I was walking across the stage in the colosseum wearing a funny costume and hat. Looking back, I feel like I was kicking and screaming and fighting graduation for months. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the life I spent four years perfecting. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to one of the best jobs I’ll ever have. I wasn’t ready to move on. I wasn’t ready to be a grown up. And most of all, I wasn’t happy, nor was I excited.

Despite the 2,013 emotions I was feeling, my graduation was filled with so much love. We had one of the best parties ever and I was surrounded by 65 of my favorite people. If this doesn’t remind you of how good you have it, I don’t know what will.

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Several days after this, I got to forget about my real world dilemmas and was given the greatest graduation present… A trip to Malaysia and Singapore with some of my best friends.


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Who knew that just hours after landing, we’d be spending the afternoon and night in a police station, helping to catch two of Malaysia’s most wanted criminals. Adventure is out there, people!

And… I even got to witness one of my best friends propose to the girl of his dreams! This may be one of my favorite days ever.


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Home again, home again… and now it was time for the real world. I began my job as a community relations representative for a global aerospace defense company, and somewhat gave up my dream of teaching in Spain. This was one of the lowest points in my life. I was challenging myself, but not in the way that I had intended to when I wrote my resolutions. June to August was a dark period, as I felt the things I wanted for myself slipping through my fingers. I didn’t even feel like “Erica” at camp–my favorite place in the whole entire world. Deep down, I was carrying so much sadness… so, I sought help.

After talking to a therapist several times, things became so clear.  I was ready to challenge myself and I was ready to believe in myself in the way that I meant when I wrote my resolutions.

So I gathered up all of the courage I could collect, quit my job and began one of the greatest adventures of my life. 

In September, I moved to Spain and began to teach English.

I was placed at the best school with kids and teachers that I adore.

I fell in love with Madrid all over again.

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I found peacocks in Lisbon.

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I got lost in magical gardens and castles in Sintra.


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I helped bring Thanksgiving to Spanish friends.


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I found out what all the Paris hype is about.


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I wandered through Christmas markets in fairytale-like cities in Belgium.


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I spent Christmas in Prague.

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I did walking tours through historical cities and received the best history lesson of my life.


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I got a bit of a reality check at a concentration camp in Germany.


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I was one of the last people to explore Planterwald, an abandoned theme park, before it gets torn down and becomes housing developments.


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And I ended 2o13 listening to fireworks explode for 24 hours in Berlin with my best travel companion.

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Needless to say, I found my adventure and I found my happiness. When you close your ears and your eyes from everyone and everything around you, and you believe in yourself and what it is that you want, it’s amazing the bliss you will find.

Two thousand thirteen, you were my biggest challenge and my greatest adventure and for that, I am forever grateful.

5 thoughts on “2013: My biggest challenge & my greatest adventure.

  1. volivotti says:

    Isn’t it nice when you actually get to the light at the end of the tunnel? Loved reading about your 2013…your adventures looked like they were completely worth the risk! Keep living!

    • Erica Connolly says:

      That is THE best feeling ever. Thanks for the encouragement! I just popped over to your blog… We are going to Marrakech on Friday! I’m a little nervous about being overwhelmed, but it’s nice to know what to expect beforehand. Did you have a private driver from the airport? Or did you take the bus? Any advice would be great!

      • volivotti says:

        We used a private driver so I can’t say much for the bus. The best part for us about having a driver was that he agreed to walk us to our hotel (cars/buses don’t drive in the medina area)…most riads are impossible to find and you can’t simply “ask for directions.” Worst case, you end up paying a local a few euros to walk you to your hotel. That being said, I NEVER felt unsafe in Marrakech…only a bit swindled at times 😉

        • Erica Connolly says:

          Thank you so much for the information. Glad you felt safe… I was honestly a little nervous about that. But, sounds like most people love Marrakech once they get used to things! Thanks again.

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