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 2021 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. 2022, like 2020 and 2021, 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 one of the most fruitful and exciting years of my life. I’m so fortunate for everything that happened in 2022, so let’s dive in to the recap!
I celebrated my one year anniversary of being the Community Outreach Court Intake/Case Coordinator in July and at almost exactly 2.5 years after starting at the Office of the Public Defender, I made the transition to a different job in a brand new (to me) field! I had some highs and lows in Community Outreach Court (COC), but 98% of the time, I absolutely loved the job I had. My daily routine consisted of answering emails/calls/texts from clients, service providers, judges, attorneys, and my team members; filling out intake applications with prospective clients over the phone and in person; conducting outreach at service fairs around the island; hosting and facilitating pretrial conferences with my team members; assisting clients throughout the court system with special attention on hearing days; and providing 1-on-1 help and referrals to clients needing housing, food, job services, healthcare, etc. I loved when my clients would text me good news and I was even more ecstatic to be the one delivering such information to them. I was overjoyed when they’d graduate from our program and I could see how happy they were with the outcome they received. Most of all, I felt like I had a purpose being someone they could turn to for help so they’d never be left behind or forgotten on my watch. My job wasn’t perfect by any means, but I felt like I at least provided a small service to people who really needed someone to advocate for them. With the way COC progressed and grew (both good), I felt I deserved a higher salary than what I was being paid. At one point I learned that two of the positions that were almost equivalent to mine on our team were paid almost $20k more than me and I found that disheartening and unfair. I was also completing the work of 2.5 people for my one income over the span of nearly 10 months.
Because of a few factors including my low wage and lack of growth opportunities (I would’ve absolutely adored being the social worker for the whole office), I applied to a job working with low-income community members in a different field and I started there this past September! The new position sounded like a great opportunity and my interview with my now-coworkers was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in a job, so I felt confident and excited when I finished the Teams meeting. I was even more thrilled to receive the job offer when I saw my salary would essentially double what I made at OPD. My job has been an incredible learning curve over the past four months and I’ve learned and accomplished a lot already. I was extremely nervous when I started and my fears and inadequacies increased tenfold when I was around one month in and felt lost and truly depressed. I had no idea what I was doing and I wondered if I made a mistake by moving from a job I was so happy in to one full of strangers with new challenges and experiences. I’ve recently stated how much I believe in the goodness of change and while I still agree with that, I hate how scary and uncomfortable change feels in the moment. I absolutely despise being the new kid in any situation, but it’s especially terrifying in a working environment. Thankfully I started my job while everyone was fully remote and we’ve only been working one day in the office. I’m also the luckiest person to work with people who are truly kind to me and have reached out to offer me support whenever I need it. I still don’t feel entirely comfortable or settled in the work I’m doing, but I know how privileged I am to be in the position I have with people who treat me well!
Last year I mentioned how I started working for H*waiʻi P*ace and Just*ce part-time, and I resigned that position back in April for a plethora of reasons including some (definitely not all) of the board members’ elitism and prioritization of media fame rather than actual organizing power with working Hawaiians. I refused to allow myself to be treated terribly so I left and I’m glad I did! Conversely, I wasn’t able to work for the Star-Advertiser covering high school football in 2022 because I started my job right before the season began and I wasn’t sure what my schedule would be like. Hopefully I’ll get to a place in work where I can go back to writing part-time because I missed covering the games and meeting with the coaches and players! Finally, I just made my one year anniversary of contributing to Our Daily Bears, and I’m proud of all the articles I wrote about Baylor men’s and women’s tennis since they weren’t covered in the past! Last spring, my editor Matt asked me to take over duties for all spring sports and we’ll see how that goes this season! I’m nervous but excited to do much more for the site!
Although my anxiety and depression returned a bit in 2022, I still celebrated various milestones and enjoyed various experiences in my personal life! My partner and I moved into a new/old place (aka the home of my childhood) that we’ve truly made our own, we adopted a stray cat named Bacon, brought many fishes/snails/shrimp into our family, bonded incredibly well with each others’ families, and enjoyed a rather peaceful and fun year of travels to Maui and Hawaiʻi island! I learned how to better communicate during my bouts of anxiety and depression so my loved ones weren’t left questioning why I was behaving the way I was. Even though I over articulate everywhere I am online (perhaps I should be a little less online?), it can be difficult for me to always share my feelings with my people in person, so I’m proud of how often I did that in 2022!
Unfortunately I lost my organizing space over the last year or so and the trauma I experienced from parts of Hawaiʻi’s organizing community prevents me from wanting to find a new political home. My partner and I do our best to provide monetary and other resources to unhoused folks when we can, but I’d like to try and establish some type of outreach community for homeless folks as I know how unhelpful and cruel most homeless NGOs are. I’d like to focus my attention on providing material resources to more people and hopefully in 2023 I’ll find other people who want to do the same work!
When I started my new job in September, I decided to increase my student loan payments so I can pay both off in the next 22 months! I’ve always hated paying for my loans so now that I have a bit more money each month, I want to get rid of them as quickly as possible (although my dad disagrees with this strategy—haha!). I spend quite a penny every month on my bills with my loans being the main cost, so I can’t wait until the month before my 28th birthday when I’ll be (nearly) completely debt free! Since my new life goal is to retire by the time I’m 40 (again, my dad ensures I know how realistic or perhaps how unrealistic this dream is), I aim to save and invest as much as possible over the next 14 years (fingers and limbs and hairs crossed!!) so I can achieve my dreams!
I’m lucky that in 2022 I’ve gotten to spend so much precious time at home with my family and have lots of gatherings and meals with Brandon, Kaiʻolu, Mikayla, and Parker. Additionally, now that my best pal/cousin Conor and I work together, we talk and see each other much more often! 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. I had the best time ever visiting them last March and it felt like no time passed at all between us. It’s still amazing to me that we can stay best friends despite not seeing each other for long periods of time and I know how lucky I am to have friendships like those!
In December 2022, This Is Noelle turned 10 years old and I’ve officially blogged every day for the past 7 years! I can get easily overwhelmed with my full time job, part-time 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!