One of the most fun (and time consuming) parts of the new year is recapping my past 12 months in words and pictures (here’s the pictures post and my 2020 in words)! Although while going through it, the year sometimes feels like there are more awful moments than good ones, reviewing and writing about what I’ve gone through the last 365 days often shows me that’s not the case. 2021, like 2020, was a traumatic and devastating year for countless people throughout the world and I’m extraordinarily lucky that my loved ones are safe and healthy and that despite so much going on, I had probably the best year of my whole life. I’m so fortunate for everything that happened in 2021, so let’s dive in to the recap!
I recently (in my head) celebrated two years at the Office of the Public Defender where for a year and a half I was an Appellate Legal Clerk (though I originally worked in Felonies and helped with both District and Family). I loved working in Appeals because I had a wonderful section of people who supported and encouraged me and became my friends. I was given lots of responsibility and independence to essentially run the logistics of the section because my supervisor fully trusted me. However, after my friend Jenalyn left the office and her position as the Community Outreach Court Coordinator (in our office) at the beginning of 2021, I applied for the job and started the position in June (I wrote about the job in this post)! Becoming the COC Coordinator has been a blessing for me as I left the extreme toxicity of the general secretarial group and get to technically run the program. When I was a clerk I was forced to cover for people who didn’t show up to work or do their jobs and I was always the one who was told to do more without any extra compensation or even a thank you. There are still lots of aspects I would change about COC, but I’m lucky I get along with most of the team and I try to directly help our clients with their immediate and long-term needs. Houselessness is an issue I’ve been passionate about my whole life and feeling like I can make a small impact on people who really need assistance is wonderful (especially since we’re not at a loss of struggling people).
In 2021 I also worked two other part-time jobs: covering high school football again for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and doing Communications “consulting” for Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice—the organization I’m on the board of. I hadn’t written for the newspaper since my first season in 2019 so going back out there and covering the games was a little difficult in the beginning, but I had lots of encouragement and motivation from my prep editor Billy! I was mainly assigned to Pearl City games and since this is not my “professional” twitter account (hahahaha as if I’m professional there), can I just say those parents are YIKES and they were more aggressive and violent than anyone else I’ve ever been around. Anyway, I’m so glad I got to work on my writing skills and never had one mistake on a box score this season! I truly love writing about football and I’m lucky I have the opportunity to do so here and for the newspaper. I started handling HPJ’s social media accounts at the beginning of 2021 when I agreed to work 5 hours per week remotely. Since then, I increased my hours to 15 a week since we’re dealing with the Red Hill fuel tank crisis on a massive scale. The work can sometimes be hard to manage since I’ve had a hand in social media, newsletter creations, and the revamping and relaunch of our website, but I’m glad to have another job I can do in my daily downtime that provides me with money to pay my student loans every month! Even though this isn’t work per se and I’m not getting paid, I recently became a contributor for Our Daily Bears, which I’m so excited about! Matt, the new editor, is the person who started watching my TikToks before anyone else and he shared my first “watch the Baylor game with me and my dad” video on Twitter that led to our meeting and connecting with so many new people. I’ll be writing about Baylor men’s and women’s tennis this season and hopefully I can write more about football next season. My first post comes out on Wednesday, so be on the lookout for that!
I’m proud of the strides I’ve made in my personal life this past year and I feel like a completely different person from who I was even 12 months ago. I used to be extremely unsure of myself and I always felt like I wasn’t good enough at *anything*. In 2021 though, my mental health improved, my anger and anxiety calmed down, and I generally feel truly happy in my life! Much of my personal growth is due to my relationship and how my partner has fit in with my loved ones. I’ve never been in a relationship where the other person has encouraged, supported, and loved me as much as my current partner has and does. I’m even luckier that my family and friends love him and the feeling is mutual! We recently moved in together and I have never been happier every day! My partner makes me want to be a better person and he makes me feel like I can do or be anything I want.
*TW: This section may be triggering for anyone struggling with body image/weight/EDs, so please feel free to stop reading if that applies to you!* I started my weight loss journey in 2020 and ended up losing almost 50 pounds by the start of 2021. Since then, I went on to lose 20 more pounds by continuing to watch my food intake and sticking to a moderately healthy diet. Although I feel proud of myself for losing the weight I gained over the past several years, I still struggle with weighing myself and the different body image issues I’ve developed since my body looks completely different now. I thought I would be much happier and content after I lost weight, but now I have new insecurities and miss certain aspects of my body I used to have before. Now I’m trying to stop feeling generally insecure about the parts of my physical self I don’t necessarily like and acknowledge that I’m lucky to have a body that keeps me alive and healthy!
I started organizing in 2020 after I found some like-minded people with whom I shared politics and we co-founded the Hawaiʻi Abolition Collective together. Unfortunately after some extremely fucked up experiences in and out of the org, I stepped away from organizing indefinitely (I don’t consider my being on the board of HPJ and working for them to be organizing). I’ve heard from others in the past about toxic and unsafe organizing spaces and Hawaiʻi couldn’t have any more of those. Both a benefit and risk of organizing in such a small place like Hawaiʻi is that everyone knows and works alongside the same people. When certain folks are abusive, harmful, or dangerous to others in organizing spaces here, it’s near impossible to escape them and their image in the eyes of people unfamiliar with the situation. I and a close comrade of mine personally experienced harm at the hands of a well-known organizer here and because of a lack of safety protocols and support from other people, I basically dropped out of organizing completely. That’s not to say that I don’t have any other opportunities to build with other abolitionists (my dear friend Aree has encouraged and welcomed me to join her in a new org she’s developing), but the situation we went through was extremely harmful and I don’t feel comfortable or safe yet to join a new group. Until then, I’m trying to do what I can in my work to meet people in their needs.
I’m lucky that in 2021 I’ve gotten to spend so much precious time at home with my family and have lots of picnics and meals with Brandon, Kaiʻolu, Mikayla, and Parker. The health and well-being of my loved ones is absolutely precious to me and I know how lucky I am that we’re all doing well! I also am grateful to Jonathan and Lo for always making me feel included by texting me all day long every single day, FaceTiming and calling me, and sending regular Marco Polos so I can see what they’re doing. They are truly the greatest friends!
In December 2021, This Is Noelle turned 9 years old and I’ve officially blogged every day for the past 6 years! I can get easily overwhelmed with my three jobs, writing contributions, TikToks, and blogging every day, but I’m still thankful for this space that has given me more opportunities than I ever imagined and where I can publicly write anything I want to say (which only brought me a few aggressive fights on Facebook and Twitter with former family friends). I hope to continue writing and ranting here for many years to come and I can’t wait for the next year of This Is Noelle! Thank you for staying and reading!