This Is Noelle the blog is eight years old today (enjoy last year’s celebratory post here)! I know I say this every year, but it feels like I just created this small website in my living room on the penultimate night of the year. 16 year old me was an entirely different monster than the young woman…ick I mean lady? person? girl?…I am in this almost 2021 year of our Lord André 3000. Eight years ago today I had only just turned 16 and was preparing to go to Washington D.C. with my best friends to appear in the Presidential Inaugural parade (back before my imminent love for electoral politics and now hatred for it!). Everything was different back then, but a lot is the same. I hated school, spent most of my time with Kaiʻolu/Brandon/Mikayla, loved music, felt increasingly restless, and wanted to live my life somewhere new and far away. In fact, it appears that not much has changed between the me I was in 2012 and the me I am on the cusp of a new year, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Eight years ago, I had no idea what I would accomplish at this point in my life. I didn’t know I would get accepted at my dream university, remain close with my best friends from elementary/high school, form new friendships with my best friends at Baylor, lose two great loves, leave religion behind, discover a passion for working with incarcerated people, struggle through months and months of crippling depression and panic attacks, work in Baylor’s athletic department, write more poems than I can count, coach high school football, graduate from college, get paid to write about football, quit my first adult job within three months, work at a job I love, and help co-found an abolition group. It’s easy to think back on the past eight years and ignore all of my accomplishments and how far I’ve come since I was just a small girl, but I’m proud of myself for keeping this little blog going all these years and for everything I’ve done in the meantime. This Is Noelle is one of my greatest achievements and I’m so grateful that there are people like all of you who read what I have to say even when I procrastinate and/or share a bit too much. Here’s to the past eight years of This Is Noelle and all the years to come!