It’s 2017 and things still feel the same. It’s funny how we make such a fuss over the start of a new year, when time and again we’re shown that it makes almost no difference in how people act. But, maybe that’s just me.
Regardless, this is my 2016 reflection post, because maybe at the end of 2017, I’ll want to know how much one year really does impact things. Also, big up’s to those of you who get & love my HP reference in the title. Fawkes, you’re the real MVP.
People have been saying 2016 was a terrible year. And yeah, it has contained a whirlwind of terrible, awful messes. But, I think we have a tendency to remember only the shit things. They stand out more than the happy, sometimes mundane, but extremely joyful moments. And to me, it’s those happily mundane things that keep us from losing ourselves through the darkest of times.
With that in mind, I’m trying to remember things with balance. This year, while I am glad is over, has taught me much about what it means to persevere, to lose hope, to regain some semblance of it, and keep moving forward.
In the past year, I made new friends, connected with old ones on deep levels, listened to some really, really great music, and became more passionate about what I want out of my professional career. Those have all been intensely wonderful things for me.
And still, I struggled with a lot of demons. I realized what I need and what I didn’t in my life. And though it has been hard confronting some of the things that have happened to me, I was always comforted, supported, and loved by friends who constantly stand by me in processing some of the trauma I’ve faced. I’ve broken down several times, but breakage was and is not the end of my story–I know this to be true. Even in experiencing sadness, fear, and sometimes hopelessness, I gained a lot of clarity.
I now know that healing comes in waves. It is not an end all, be all status. It is not a dichotomy of healed or not. Some moments you’ll want to slink into a meek existence, let the fire extinguish, be alone for a long string of whiles. And in other moments, you’ll think the world was so full of life and love, and maybe you’ll be more than okay.
This year, I lived a lot. I lived with a cat. I lost four toenails (if someone wants to buy me soccer cleats in 2017 to prevent this from happening again, I’d be eternally grateful–I wear a size 6.5). I got too many bug bites and finally drank alcohol in Costa Rica. I leased my first car. I watched a lot of Netflix. I started online dating again. I stopped online dating again. I divulged embarrassing moments and harrowing truths about myself, and my life didn’t end. I felt waves of emotions and didn’t drown them out or let them drown me. I grew out my hair and started wearing make-up like I knew what I was doing. I grew into myself, and let my words flow more than I used to. Those are all things I am proud of.
2016 also gave me tremendous opportunities in educational and professional experiences. I continued as a UCI Tobis Fellow doing research on activism in the U.S., was accepted into the WISE Learner’s Voice Program, started my first copywriting job at The Muse, begun contract work at UCI’s Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, and overall am a little more comfortable with the whole idea of professional networking.
I always valued my relationships with people, but 2016 took my appreciation and love for human interaction to a new level. I am overwhelmed at the beauty and tenacity of the people I have chosen to surround myself with–my chosen family. I know that 2016 was a shitstorm for a lot of them, but they always made me laugh, let me cry, didn’t make me feel like I wasn’t important. I hope that I somehow also made their past year a little less dark. And even though I see the potential in 2017 to be a year for self-growth, empowered communities, and mobilizing forces, the future is incredibly scary. From 2016, I want to carry the hope, strength, and vulnerability that I fostered from so many wonderful people.
Because arbitrary things like the passing of one year to the next doesn’t change things. People do.
And people have carried me through 2016. I’ve accomplished a lot, but it would be a blatant lie to say I did any of it on my own. To the people who stayed up with me while I worked on countless assignments I procrastinated on, my roommate who would wake me up and hold me accountable, the family who made me food and visited me, the strangers who became friends…I am so incredibly happy that 2016 is moving on into 2017 because it means more time to spend with you, to work alongside you, to keep fighting for our dreams.
On a personal level, maybe I can’t be too mad about 2016. It’s only shown me what I already knew to be true about relationships, about injustice, about our entire world. And I’m really trying to be hopeful for 2017 because I am convinced of collective ability to come together, prevent horrifying things, and stop the dehumanization of marginalized communities.
But collectively, I’m still angry, still processing. Moving from December 31st to January 1st doesn’t speed up the reflection process. In 2016, we all failed. We failed a lot–pretty much every time it mattered (and it always matters). But, when we fail, we are forced to reconcile and reevaluate. In 2016, we learned how loss feels. In 2017, we’ll learn how to cope, how to manage, how to rise.
Here’s to a 2017 filled with magic, awe, wonder, and indelible strength.