Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

May 8, 2020

No Bad Years.

      You don't need me to tell you that 2020 has been about as far from our expectations of it as we could have ever imagined. And as we move on through the weeks and months, it doesn't show any signs of being less weird anytime soon. In more ways than just COVID-19, 2020 seems like a bad year on paper. It's easy to go into a dark place mentally when thinking about all of the losses, cancellations, new restrictions, and fears that 2020 has brought. I know that I've certainly had my fair share of bad days during all of this. 

     But over the past few weeks, God has been teaching me something and put this message on my heart to share on my blog. He's been teaching me this lesson in the most interesting way- through the power of my own memory and self-reflection. I can't wait to share this with you today, and I hope it might help with your perspective as we move through this year. 

     Up until recently, I would have told you that 2016 has been the worst year of my life thus-far. Did I recognize that there were good moments that happened to me that year? Of course. But until a few weeks ago, I also would've told you that the bad that happened that year toppled over anything good and positive. 

     Why was my 2016 so miserable? In April of that year, I was physically assaulted by a female student from my university at a bar two weeks before college graduation. In addition to the physical bruising that I had on my face, I had a very serious concussion which almost lead me to miss my college graduation (and did end up causing me to miss a few weeks of my nannying jobs and all of the Senior Week activities). For a variety of reasons, I chose to press charges. This lead to a difficult legal situation that occupied much of my time and mental space for the six months following, as well as two separate disciplinary hearings- one through my university and one through my sorority. Unfortunately, my decision to press charges didn't sit well with some of the friends that I had at the time. In addition to dealing with the legal stuff, I also had to cope with the sudden loss of certain college friendships... friendships that I had anticipated having in my life for years and years to come. While I am continually thankful that the assault wasn't worse and that I did have the support of my parents and other friends, I'm not going to sugarcoat what did happen. It was horrible. I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, ever. And 21 years old is young to go through something like that. 

     Here's a blog post that I wrote two months after going to court, and another one about what I learned from dealing with a legal situation (written a year after court). Aside from those two posts, I didn't talk about this situation on my blog. Most of my blog posts from 2016 are fun fashion posts, and little updates about day to day life in my first year out of college. But even if I wasn't talking about what was going on a lot on my blog or Instagram, it was still going on. And it sucked. Like I said, I wouldn't wish that situation on anyone. Even though a lot of good things did happen to me in 2016, my mind had blocked a lot of the happier memories out in the years since. When I think "2016," I think of two words: assault and court

    Anyways, over the past month of staying home and social distancing, my mind has been subconsciously visiting the year 2016 in my memories a lot more than it usually does. I haven't even been actively trying to re-visit this year of my life, it's just been happening. But here's the weird thing. I haven't been thinking about the assault or legal stuff.... really at all? (Even though the four year anniversary of what happened was just a couple weeks ago... this is the first year that felt just like another day, and I barely thought about it!) Instead, my mind has been uncovering some truly wonderful and beautiful memories from 2016... all sorts of memories from big ones to small ones. Here are just a few that I've been thinking about:
  • Finally getting accepted to use rewardStyle/LIKEtoKnow.It as a blogger.
  • Going to the Carolina Cup with my friend Cara.
  • College graduation day.
  • Life with my friend Ciera in our first apartment in Charlotte. 
  • Having a kitchen of my own for the first time in that apartment, and all of the fun I had trying new recipes.
  • Decorating an apartment for Christmas for the first time.
  • Joining one of my favorite church small groups that I've ever been in.
  • The hot tub that the apartment complex had for residents (I've never lived in another apartment complex with a hot tub since!)
  • Getting accepted to broadcasting school, and attending my first six months of classes there (especially the radio classes!).
  • The 4th of July 2016 in Charlotte. 
  • My first full summer in Charlotte.
  • Blog photography adventures with Deeana.
  • Being 21 and 22 in Charlotte, the most fun city.
  • Taking four of my favorite trips ever that year: Orlando, Charleston, Las Vegas and NYC.

     I was starting to wonder why random happy memories like these from 2016 kept popping into my head so much during stay-at-home this past month. I've had lots of other great memories in life from many other years (tons from 2018-present, since I've lived in Virginia!). But it was the 2016 ones that kept resurfacing. And I realized my perspective was changing on the year, I didn't view it as an all-bad year anymore! In fact, I think 2016 was actually a fantastic year in my life, it just happened to have one really bad event. 

    One day last week, after yet another random happy 2016 memory was on my mind... I feel like God kind of spoke to me and told me why these were continuing to come to my thoughts. I immediately had this deep "knowing" feeling of peace come over me. Yes, something traumatic had happened to me in 2016, but I had let that definite the entire year. I let the anxiety, fear, and pain overrule all the good and precious moments- and it took a pandemic and three and a half years later to realize this.

     So why am I blogging about this today, and sharing this message and realization with you? Because I don't want 2020 to become 2016 part two- for me or for you! You don't need me to tell you that COVID-19 has completely disrupted all of our lives. It's been an unfortunate and scary time for every person all over the world, but it's been more traumatic for some than others. If you've lost your job or been furloughed due to it, or seen a loved one fall ill with COVID-19 (or God forbid lost a loved one), you will feel this trauma more than anyone. And I'm not trying to minimize any of the pain people are feeling. 

    But what I am saying... let's not let COVID-19 take over how we define this year when we look back When you're thinking back on 2020 a few years from now, do you only want to remember the bad? Or do you want to remember the small, positive moments that made a big difference? In a few years, I don't want to be thinking about the cancelled plans and vacations that I had, or the fear that I felt before putting on my mask when I went to do groceries or another essential errand. 

     I instead want to think about how lucky I felt to be on-air on the Charlottesville radio that year, trying to be a voice of encouragement to people when they really needed it. I want to think about all of the silly everyday moments that I had at home each day with Delilah, my cat. I want to remember all of the conversations and bonding with Abigail, my roommate. Some have been silly conversations, some of have been serious... but all are important, and 2020 is when we really made our apartment our home. I want to remember the socially distanced walks and picnics with Emily, Kelly, Lily and a few others, and how close I felt to those dear friends despite being 6+ feet apart outside. I want to remember the fun Facetime and Zoom conversations with friends all over the country, and my parents. 

     So my friend- I challenge you to start focusing more on the good as we go forward into the rest of the year. Yes this year is all sorts of weird and anxiety-inducing and unpredictable, and I'm not trying to diminish that. But let's focus on treasuring the happy moments. This is something that I also need to keep reminding myself every single day, as it can be so easy to keep falling into the trap of negativity. There are bad days, but no bad years.

     Thank you for making it to the end of this long, more personal post. I appreciate you reading, and hope that you have a wonderful weekend.

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 



  1. This is an incredible post friend- so insightful and I think will help so many people!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! I really think seeing the positive even in our bad years helps. 2010 was a roller coaster year for me. I was dating a complete jerk who treated me like garbage. That fall I moved away from home to finish my Bachelor's degree. I knew no one in my new town but it ended up being the fresh start I needed. I broke up with the jerk, got myself into therapy and ended up meeting some amazing friends-who I still talk with to this day. Towards the end of that year I ended up meeting my now husband through a mutual friend. God works in mysterious ways!

  3. Yes girl!!! I am so SO into this post. Like you I have definitely had my moments of sadness through Covid-19. April and May were supposed to be big and exciting months for me. I was supposed to go to my Dad's wedding in Hawaii, I was supposed to have my law school formal, supposed to be a bridesmaid in my college roommate's wedding, supposed to graduate law school and have a great big party, supposed to attend concerts and birthday parties, and have fun date nights with my husband. There are moments that I feel sad that those things won't happen--but sitting around being negative doesn't do anything. Instead I want to make the most of this time. Maybe that means living room dance parties with my husband, Friday night drives eating takeout burritos and watching the sunset, and lots of snuggle parties with my dogs. It isn't the same as what I imagined but that doesn't mean it can't be just as beautiful in its own way. Thank you for sharing such a positive and empowering message today. XO!

  4. Annaliese!!! This post! What an amazing perspective. This is something that has been on my heart as well. I planned on 2020 being a huge year, and while that is true, it wasn't exactly what I had in mind. But, I still got to run a half marathon this year and I still got to take an amazing trip...and there are still so many fun things ahead. I think your attitude about your 2016 is incredible, and I just applaud you! Well done!

  5. I am so sorry you went through all of that in 2016. I cannot imagine, especially at 21. It’s truly amazing how God will speak to us though and I just love this perspective. Thank you for sharing what is on your heart. I am so proud of you for making lemons out of lemonade.

  6. I'm grateful upon reading this to you for sharing your story of 2016. Often we do not talk about those bad things. It's good on some level to know that when we do experience that we are not alone in it. I am so sad that you experienced that and also proud of you for making those tough choices and following through. It has been an honor to follow your story.


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