2017 was the best year of my life… and it was the exact opposite of easy. We should all be so blessed to have a year like this.
The title of this post is the only lesson that I learned. There are a number of things that happened, some of which I’ll recount below, and there are a variety of experiences I partook in, some positive, some negative, nothing neutral, but many of my friends and coworkers have heard me use the phrase: “I don’t deal with symptoms, I deal with root causes” and so that title, that lesson, is the root of 2017 for me.
It’s the lens through which I reflect on things; it’s the mirror of what you see reflected back at you.
If you look for cracks, you’ll find them and more than you bargained for.
I could list all the things that I don’t have in my life right now: a romantic relationship, a job that’s “guaranteed” to last, certainty on the weather, reliance on our current government that it won’t completely screw us all, static permanence to all my friendships, completely acceptance from my family, aaaaaaaand…
That list will beget another list and next thing you know it’s all miserable, why get out of bed, what’s the point in even living?! Or, I could stop measuring myself and my life against things that are, for the most part, outside of my control, and I could start (or rather, keep, because that’s what happened for me mid-year and I’m not taking a break from it) looking at what I do have:
- Solid, active friendships with people that I like and they like me — heck, we love each other, unironically
- A job that I love and working with people that don’t bring me down, plus
- It’s now a career that is on an accelerated growth path that I couldn’t have even imagined a year ago
- I live in a city that suits me and I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy; I hate being away and love being back and there is always something new to explore
- Active participation in three hobbies / passions that make me feel whole and alive: storytelling, swimming, and cooking
- An apartment that I’ve made into my home and so every time I step through the door, I feel at peace
- A working relationship with my family which wasn’t a thing for me nor something I’d ever thought possible
And I could keep going and going. You see? You will find what you’re looking for and if you’re looking for reasons to feel poorly about yourself, to feel like you don’t have enough, to feel like none of this is worth it, to feel that even the good things will be taken away – rest assured, it’ll happen, and more than likely because you’ll have made it happen all by yourself. What you believe will come to be true.
At the beginning of 2017, I didn’t believe that my life would turn out good. I thought it would be okay, and that was enough. I had lowered my expectations so far down that even crappy things were acceptable. My boundaries in all of my relationships – friends, romantic partners, family – were porous or non-existent. My sense of self was in tatters. I was really just waiting for the bus to hit me.
I’d lost all hope for anything. Survival was… it.
That doesn’t fly anymore. It’s the end of 2017, and I don’t know my life will turn out good. No? No! Instead, I know my life is good. I don’t have absurd expectations, but I do have expectations because I know both what I want and deserve in this life. I experience joy on a daily basis, sometimes small and other times so large it could overflow from the Marianas Trench! At least once a week or so, I tell my best friend that I’m walking around with my ‘doofy’ smile on my face, the one a kid has who’s seeing Santa for the first time. I look like an idiot but I’m happy as all get out!
I don’t know what comes next. I don’t know what’s around the corner; no one does. But, I do know that I’m no longer afraid of it. Instead, I look forward to it because I’m excited just to live through it all!
If you look for cracks, chasms you will find. But, if you look for all the good that there is to be had in this life, on this earth, in this space you occupy… if you want for things and you go get them, if you believe that risks are worth taking, if you believe that you matter and what you want matters and that all of this matters–
You will experience no minor joy; you will play no minor role in your own life. Instead, you will take a bite out of the universe.
You will touch a star, I promise you, and there is no going back from that. I should know. I’m living that life now, and I will not, I cannot go back.
Good night, 2017, it’s been real, but now, let’s all get on to 2018 – it’s going to be amazing.