So I had initially written this whole long goodbye 2013 letter but I decided, after rereading it, that it was mainly for me. It was. I needed to write it. To word vomit out all the rottenness of the year and get it out of my system like a night out drinking. I cried as I wrote it. My rageypants fit a bit tighter as I got more pissed about things that happened this year. I ate a brownie. I cursed 2013. And then I just sat there. I reread it. I cried more. And then I decided that I didn’t want this to be the first post I made in 2014. I’m ready for a new year, a new start — I know it’s a mental thing but my brain likes the idea of a new year to let go of all the baggage I have carried this year.
Let’s get it out: This year SUCKED. There were good moments. Really fun, awesome moments. Things learned. Things tried. Memories I won’t forget. There were seriously awesome days. Those things kept me going. But there was this dark cloud that followed the whole year and liked to dump acid rain all over me at inopportune moments. I told Will often that I just wanted to quit life this year. I pleaded with him that it was a good idea to take what little money we had and just flee to an island somewhere and sell smoothies out of our shack. He often rolled his eyes at my solution to things. It’s no secret — I’ve been honest. I struggled this year.
Okay now that that’s out. Let’s talk about a few takeaways from this year that will be melded into the armor that I will wear into battle in 2014 — because I will fight to make things better, to be happy, to be stronger. Hear this rebel yell, 2014! I’m coming for you.
My dear friend Ginger had an awesome idea for a project and I loved seeing the outcome. She asked some bloggers and authors to give a word that summed up the year for them and it really made me think. I had a lot of negative words come to mind initially but I knew that’s not the direction I wanted to go in because I’m a glass half full kind of girl. There had to be some overarching theme of 2013 amidst all the really negative words I was thinking and all the things that had happened. And then it came to me — perseverance. I think this word sums up a lot of my life. In fact, in college I was given the perseverance award presented by the Business Department because everyone knew about my mom’s fight with brain cancer through most of my college career. I just persevere.
The official definition for perseverance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
That pretty much sums it up. This year was a lot of just keep pushing through. Even when I wanted to lie down and quit, I just kept going even if nothing felt better. Even in the days where all I wanted to do was cry, I let myself cry, I dusted myself off and said, “Self, you will keep going.” I didn’t feel particularly in battle mode most of the time but it was more of a quiet perseverance this year for me. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. The biggest thing was the job thing — it’s demoralizing and exhausting to keep looking for work and knowing you are good enough but new rejections pummel you every day. I don’t see the fruits of that labor yet but I’m persevering knowing that soon enough I will be where I need to be career wise. Perseverance.
I’ve always known I can handle a lot, as hard and as weighty as it seems, but this year perseverance was everything. It was a new challenge for me and, even if the only thing I can say at the end of all this is, HEY I SURVIVED 2013..then by damn I’m going to put it on a t-shirt, bedazzle the shit out of it and embrace it.
I find some irony in the fact that last year I was declaring myself DONE with a certain longstanding group of friends — my former bff included. And how did I spend one of my last days of 2013? Hanging out with my former bff who is now solidly my friend. For, you see, I did in fact cold turkey cut them out of my life. I did it. It was the best thing I did for myself. I needed to. I could have went about it differently for sure but that’s what I did. I did not speak to them for most of the year — until this Fall when I was invited to have dinner with the one person who had hurt me the most. And you know what I did? I said yes. Because I felt like I needed closure of some sort. I could see I was different now. I did what I needed — put some time and space in between me and them. And suddenly I realized they had NO bearing in my life anymore. It was the most freeing realization. I worried about them SO much and let them dictate my life to the point of being miserable and they NO LONGER HAD ANY HOLD ON ME. I did not care what they thought. I didn’t. AT ALL.
But at that dinner I realized my heart was not so bitter towards them anymore. I will never be a part of that group again but I proved to myself that I can be friendly with them and see them from time to time because there is history there. But I became myself again because I wasn’t letting my life be dictated by them anymore. I’ve changed my expectations on the friendship and gained perspective in my “timeout” from them.
And then I reconnected with my former bff. I apologized. I explained why I did what I did. She understood it. She forgave me. I forgave her. We will never be as close as we once were and that’s okay. We have a new friendship built on a foundation of 10 years of friendship and I’m excited to see where it goes.
Biggest takeaway: There is always room for forgiveness and healing in life. I vow to take this lesson with me in 2014 and be more gracious in my forgiveness — without being walked all over. Sometimes it just takes a new perspective to see that your initial reaction wasn’t completely right. Yes, I did the right thing that I needed to do in the moment but I wasn’t altogether right about everything.
True, Genuine Friends Can Get You Through Anything
I don’t know where I would be without a select few people this year + the whole amazing community who in their own way were able to support me and encourage me.
This year I was largely a crappy friend. I have this tendency, when I am going through really hard times and am having the sads, to shut the world out. I did that. I’m not proud of it but I figure that most people don’t want to have a mopey friend. Luckily, I have a select few people who loved me in spite of all that, who encouraged me, inspired me and UNDERSTOOD without judgment. I don’t know what I would have done without them listening to me let it all out, for putting up with my scattered mind, for sending me encouraging links or quotes or a mood boosting playlist. I don’t know what I would have done without dance parties via text (yeah that forreal happened and it was epic) and lip syncing via text to Hold On by Wilson Phillips. I would not have survived without mutual bitch sessions, the kind texts asking me how an interview went, the brainstorming to get ourselves out of ruts, etc. I appreciated and needed their “keepin it real” advice and thoughts even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. They let me wallow but also kicked me in the pants and for that I am grateful.
I vow in 2014 to be the kind of friend I always was before and to shower these special people with so much love it is going to come out of their ears. I’ve always believed that friendship is give and takes and sometimes someone will need to carry a little more of the load when the other is down and my friends have proved that and I am ready to be there for them in a better way than I could this year.
Dance Parties Are Necessary
I am the dance party queen and I really outdid myself this year. Out of necessity. I don’t think I would have made it through some days without dance parties — both text dance parties with a friend and the ones I had in my kitchen. There were days that I just had to dance it out — a la Christina and Meredith style on Grey’s Anatomy. I made myself dance because it kept me from crying. I made myself dance even when I was crying. For at least a couple minutes I just acted ridiculous and silly and it helped. Even when Will walks in on them and makes me cry because he just doesn’t miss a beat and just joins in.
Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh
When all else fails, at different points we just had to laugh at ourselves and the bad things that happened this year. Some of our most hearty laughter came from the most ridiculous situations — my Nancy Drew stint when our car got broken into and tons of stuff was stolen, when our power was out for days and we had to stumble around our apartment in the dark, or when we talked about how we’d decorate our cardboard box when we eventually had no more money to afford our apartment. Sometimes laughter turned into crying and sometimes crying turned into laughter. I’m just so thankful for all the laughs Will and I had this year.
Defining Who You Are
One of the biggest things for me this year was thinking about my worth and who I am and what defines me. I’ve never been the type of person who was defined by a career or anything but not working for a year makes you feel all sorts of things about your worth and you realize how often we define ourselves by the things we do. Normal conversations often leads with, “So what do you do (for work)?” and when you aren’t working it causes you to have a bit of an existential crisis — even if you, like me, do not at all put all your value in your career. I’ve come to really realize that we can’t really define ourselves and put our worth in some of these things that we do because they can end, they can break, they can disappoint us and they could be gone in an instant. Like everything they have their place and their importance in our life but hinging our worth and who we are on one thing is scary. I resolve to NOT let myself fall in that trap when I get a job or really with anything — this blog, relationships, etc.
And those are a couple of the takeaways I’m bringing with me into 2014. I firmly believe there is always something to learn from the bad and the good and I can go into 2014 stronger, smarter, better and with even more perspective. I have high hopes for 2014. I’ve been really proactive already about making it a better year — really fixing the things that were bad this year. I made the most out of 2013 and, while I wouldn’t say it was the worst year I’ve ever had, I’m okay with letting it go and moving on. I already see myself changing and growing and really what more can I ask for. I’ve weathered that damn storm and it’s time to see what’s on the other side of it.
What lessons did you learn this year?