Southern Belle in Training

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

December 28, 2021

2021 in Review: Highlights From My Year

     Time to share my very favorite annual blog post of the year! Even though I always title these posts "Highlights from My Year," technically they recap both the very high highs and some of the low lows as well. Everything that I want to remember in years to come- good and bad! (With a focus overall on the good though. 😊) I honestly mainly write these posts each year for myself first and foremost, as a journal entry to look back on in years to come. 

      I always write two Year in Review posts on the blog at the end of each year. The first one that I always share is the one you're reading right now, Highlights from My Year, which recaps the year in my personal life and career. The second is always The Year in Blogging, which recaps everything Southern Belle in Training related like my favorite outfits and favorite blog posts of the past 12 months.

     Buckle up- in addition to this being my favorite post of the year to write, it's also normally the longest post of the year! 😆Haha!! Without further ado- here's my 2021 in my personal life.

2021 Summary:

      For me, 2021 feels like two separate years. The first part from January-June, and then the second part from July-December. My life has changed so much from January 1st of last year until now- it's truly crazy! My 2021 word of the year was "present," but if I had to pick a new word to sum it up now that the year is almost done, it would probably be "overwhelming."

     The first part of 2021 was rough for me. I felt like I was teetering on the verge of depression from February-May. The first time in my life that I experienced depression was during my junior year of high school, and I haven't come that close to feeling like that again until early this year. Fortunately things never turned super serious this time around (and I had a great support system of my parents and some very good friends in my life this year) but it was scary to still be feeling so down for a few months and like I couldn't control some of my circumstances. A big part of those feelings came from my lengthy and frustrating job search, and part of it I think was pandemic fatigue. 

     Everything started to change very quickly when I accepted my new job offer in Virginia Beach in July! Life started moving at a rapid pace, and after six months of monotony it was almost a bit shocking. Suddenly everything was new: new city, new apartment, new job, new friends... new new new all the time! It was all good and all what I had been praying for and hoping for, but albeit a bit shocking to actually be living it.  

      The final months of 2021 have definitely been my favorite of the year. It's so exciting to be feeling more settled into my new life and routine, and be living in a place that I truly love and think I could see myself long-term. 

2021 Accomplishments:

     Well the first will kind of be a given- my new job!! I am still so beyond humbled and excited about my new morning show opportunity. In July, I accepted the job of morning co-host on country station WGH-FM, 97.3 The Eagle in Virginia Beach. This fall, I got to add on some additional duties and I've started hosting a Saturday show on our CHR (top 40) sister station, WVHT Hot 100. Norfolk/Virginia Beach radio stations comprise radio market 45, and it is such an honor to be working in a Top 50 radio market after only four years of full-time radio experience. (Charlottesville was a very small 200 level radio market, so to jump to Top 50 for this job is just amazing!)

     I began job hunting in November 2020, and last year at this time I was hoping and praying with everything I had that I'd have an incredible new job opportunity come my way in 2021. I will forever be thankful to the career experience that I gained at my first jobs in Burlington, VT and Charlottesville, VA, but I always knew that both of those would be entry-level opportunities for me, and not something I wanted long-term. My job search process this time around ended up taking seven (long) months, but it was beyond worth it to wait for the right career opportunity, instead of taking the first thing that came my way. What a lesson in God's perfect timing!

     My second greatest accomplishment was pulling off my move for my new job in just 2.5 weeks, and completely by myself! It was just me and my movers, that's it. I've never had to move that quickly before in my life, and never before without having any assistance of friends and family. I am insanely proud of myself for being able not only to pull it all off, but pull it off well! But with that said, it was one of the most draining and stressful two weeks of my life so far- no exaggeration! Moving on a quick timeline as a single adult without the help and support of a romantic partner or spouse is truly really hard. Fortunately it was an in-state move so it was a little less logistically difficult than moving out-of-state, but Virginia Beach is still 3.5 hours from Charlottesville, so it wasn't like moving across town either.

     Next up would be another not-so-fun adulting accomplishment but still an accomplishment nonetheless: handling everything by myself after my first serious car accident. A deer jumped on my car while I was driving on I-64 from Richmond to Charlottesville in March, and my car was unfortunately totaled. This was my first time dealing with a situation like this, and it was super stressful and not fun. But I did it! I navigated all the insurance stuff on my own and was quickly able to begin leasing another vehicle. I am still so thankful I was not injured in this accident, given that it happened at very high speeds and my car was totaled. 

    And finally, I am so proud of myself for how well I think I've settled into my new life here in Virginia Beach! It isn't easy to move somewhere brand new on a very quick timeline, completely by yourself, and having weird work hours that can make it difficult to do certain things. (Plus moving while a pandemic is still going on!) I'm proud of how I've developed a new routine in Virginia Beach and I've also jumped in full force with making new friends. 

2021 Travels:

     Thanks to being unvaccinated for the first part of the year and having a lengthy job search process (and needing to save PTO from my old job for potential interview trips), I wasn't able to take a full week of vacation in 2021. That was rough if I'm being honest. One of my main goals for 2022 is to be able to take a full week off at some point- it's so needed when you're a busy and working adult!

     Although I didn't get a full week off this year, in the second half of the year I was able to take a variety of fun long weekend trips. And I had an absolutely incredible experience on my first-ever work trip in November! Here's where I did travel this year:

Raleigh, NC - January

Virginia Beach, VA - March (With no clue I'd be moving here four months later!!)

Baltimore, MD - April (Just a day trip, but my first time there!)

Richmond, VA - May

Edenton, NC - May

Maine - May 

Greensboro, NC - June

The Woodlands / Galveston, TX - September

Nashville, TN - November

Greensboro, NC - November (A quick trip for another wedding- didn't take many pictures on this trip.)

Maine - December

2021 Visitors:

     This year brought more visitors than 2020 which was so exciting!! My parents each visited in the first half of the year (after they each got vaccinated) while I was still in Charlottesville, and then they both each visited after I moved to Virginia Beach as well. I also had a couple friends visit me in Virginia Beach after the move. 

Mom - April and August

Dad - March and September 

Michelle - July

Julia - September

Mercedes - October

2021 Winter Memories: As I wrote earlier in this post, the winter months in 2021 were kind of a rough time for me (as was early spring). The combination of job searching not going well for the first few months and COVID anxiety weren't great. Blogging was a wonderful stress relief and happy outlet for me during those months!

     One of the roughest parts for me about 10th and 11th grade in high school was not having my driver's license yet, and seeing most of my friends and acquaintances not only already have licenses, but already be driving. I didn't get my license until the summer between 11th and 12th grade, and didn't get a car until halfway through senior year. It was like torture to see everyone I knew driving and getting to have something that I couldn't. Why am I sharing something from 10+ years ago with you? Because that's exactly how I felt for all of my 2021 winter, as it seemed like everyone around me qualified for a COVID vaccine before I did! I had to watch most of my friends and family members' lives were going back to normal before mine was able to. The state of Virginia had an interesting vaccine roll-out process, and broadcasters and members of the media were not part of the first two essential groups. I've never had more jealous feelings in my adult life as I did in February and March seeing others I knew qualify for the vaccine before me- whether because of their job or because they lived in a different state with a faster rollout. It seriously felt like high school and not being able to drive all over again- ha! Anyways- last winter was very quiet for me. I spent a lot of time at home, and trying to safely socialize with friends outdoors when it was warm enough. It was the coldest and snowiest winter that I had during my time in Charlottesville- snowing a whopping five times between January and March! Although I'm not a big snow fan, I will say that one big highlight of last winter was getting to go snow tubing at Wintergreen Resort with my roommate Abigail! 

2021 Spring Memories:

     Spring started out rough when my 7 month old leased car was totaled by a deer in March, but thankfully I was able to get into another lease by the end of that month. Things picked up when I was finally able to get my first dose of the Moderna COVID vaccine on April 9th, 2021! Life started getting a little bit more fun after I had my first dose and all of my Charlottesville friends had theirs as well. I got to celebrate several friends' birthdays (in person! Not Zoom haha), continued playing tennis and pickleball, and I ended up being out of town for three back-to-back weekends in May, which was wonderful after spending the first few months of 2021 at home. Although my social life did pick up in the spring, my job search process got even more intense and stressful in April and May. I had so many phone and Zoom interviews with radio stations around the country, and unfortunately nothing was panning out. I was absolutely panicked knowing that I had to make a decision on renewing my apartment lease in Charlottesville for another year by the end of spring, when I really wanted to move. 

2021 Summer Memories:

    In early June, I found the job posting for my soon-to-be new job in Virginia Beach. I was interviewing in person a few weeks later, and moved to Virginia Beach on July 14th!! It was an absolute whirlwind- especially after so many unsuccessful months of job hunting. The first two weeks of July were the craziest of my entire life: I had to finish working at my old job and morning show, pack my entire apartment with little assistance, find an apartment online in Virginia Beach, and say goodbye to all of my dear Charlottesville friends and have a going away party! A crazy time, but so many precious memories. The second-half of my summer was spent settling into life in Virginia Beach; starting the process of making friends, getting used to my new job and work routine, setting up my apartment, and of course getting outside to enjoy as many beautiful beach days as I could!! I didn't move to the beach for nothing. 😉Oh! I also cut my hair to the shortest it's ever been right before my move. 

2021 Fall Memories: 

     My favorite months of 2021!! Although my move to Virginia Beach overall went well, there were some overwhelming days this summer where I felt how tough it was to be new at my job and also not have many friends in the area yet. But fortunately by this fall, I began to feel very settled with my new life here! The past few months have had the type of experiences that I was hoping and praying for during the whole first half of 2021- what a blessing to have this all come to fruition! This fall I joined Junior League, visited new churches, joined an early-fall tennis league and a local gym, and began to learn my way around Virginia Beach and neighboring cities. I got to go on my dream work trip in November, which also happened to be my first-ever work trip! I have made amazing new girlfriends both through Junior League and elsewhere (some of the closest friends I've made here have actually been blog readers who DMd me on Instagram!). And....I also started dating again! (That has been unsuccessful for any relationships so far... but I'm proud of the fact I put myself out there! And going on dates has also helped me discover some cool new restaurants and attractions around Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads. 😊)

Other 2021 Happenings: SO happy that both concerts and weddings resumed for me in 2021- two of my favorite types of events to attend!


Sierra and Ryan - June (They had a destination wedding that sadly I wasn't able to travel out for, but it was so fun getting to celebrate Sierra at her Virginia bridal shower and bachelorette weekend!)

Cara and TJ - June

Amanda and John - October (They had a small wedding in 2020, but a big 1980s themed reception in 2021 that I was thrilled to be invited to!)

Hannah and Casey - November


Pitbull - September

Earth, Wind and Fire - September

Jonas Brothers and Kelsea Ballerini - October

TV Shows I Loved: Bridgerton, Dopesick, Emily in Paris, Girls 5 Eva, Selena the Series, Selling Sunset, Sex and the City, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, You

Five Favorite Memories from 2021:

     1. The last day of my work trip to Nashville for CMA Week.

     2.My going away party in Charlottesville, and getting to celebrate my new job and move to Virginia Beach.

     3. Achieving a huge blogging goal that I'd had for years- the moment I found out I'd finally get to do a collaboration post for the blog with Lilly Pulitzer!

     4. A tie between hugging my high school best friend Julia at the airport after she arrived to visit me in Virginia, and a few days later hugging my college best friend Ciera (for the first time in three years!) at the airport in Texas to visit her

     5. My first time at Sandbridge Beach in July- aka the moment it really hit me that I finally lived near the ocean again!

Highlights From My Year posts from years passed:
2020 // 2019 // 2018 // 2017 // 2016 // 2015

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


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