It is the end of the year. 2017, the horrifying monster in 2016’s closet has finally released it’s tight grip on us. If it was kind to you, congratulations on your successes and your luck. The rest of us have been chewed up and spit out.
The moral of the story this year, for me at least, has been “Things Don’t Go As Planned.” I learned my lesson by trying to fight the winds of change as much as I could, to follow on a beaten path, to be as “safe” as possible in order to avoid any extra heartbreak. Needless to say that was a mistake. A messy one.
As humans, one of our most profound abilities is to grow. Our experiences, especially the scariest ones, help us to evolve, to become stronger and wiser. This year I witnessed the women in my life go through their own metamorphoses- my grandmother, who lost her husband of 50 years, became independent and stayed strong, never letting herself cry in front of her children and grandchildren. She began to surround herself with friends again, and by Thanksgiving she was laughing and cooking and sharing all the same, and did the chores my grandfather always did for her without as much as a sigh. My 15 year old sister’s friend ended his life after so many bad days that it seemed impossible to continue. She stood in a line of grieving kids for hours for her chance to say goodbye. That night, she texted her friends she’d lost contact with, and patched up the holes in their friendship. After years in the same position at the same company, my mother decided to start a business helping others find jobs. She left a journal page open, which revealed to me that she wants to write a book in the future. She knows she’s only getting started.
And then there was me, who came running home after a string of stress and bad decisions left my mental state in shambles. I was lucky enough to be compassionately received by my family. For once in my life, I had no idea what was next. It turns out that downtime and trauma leave you the opportunity to become re-acquainted with yourself, to reassess your priorities, and to outline who you want to become and how you’re going to get there. In that time I was able to assess where exactly I saw my life going within the next 5 years and I feel more hopeful than ever before.
My best friend’s father, Gregg, had a catchphrase: “You are always where you’re supposed to be.” Nearly 4 years after his death, Gregg’s voice still repeats this mantra in my head whenever I begin to doubt myself. This statement might seem too broad to be universally true, but 2017 showed me that Gregg was onto something. Did my vision for this year include a mental breakdown? Of course not. My grandmother didn’t plan to lose her husband, nor my sister’s friend’s parents to lose their child. If you’re anything like me, the endless possibilities of what life could throw your way in a year absolutely terrifies you. Knowing that a curveball could smash my hopes and dreams for the future in an instant is quite possibly the root of all my anxiety. I would love to share advice on how to deal with this, but I have yet to find any that truly helps. However, I find solace in the idea that we are constantly learning and absorbing our surroundings. Where you are at the end of this year may not be where you want to be, but in honor of Gregg, look around and assess what you’re learning from your current situation, and how it can help you grow in the long run. Calming, isn’t it?
If you’ve had a bad year, I extend my hugs and best wishes to you. You win some, you lose some. It will be okay. It’s impossible to say what 2018 has in store for us, but before we begin our next trip around the sun, do something I only ever began to do halfway into this year- count your blessings. Understand that things can’t always happen our way and why that might be a good thing. You may be just where you’re supposed to be.
All the love,