An Open Letter to 20157:00:00 PM
Why you gotta be so rude?
You were supposed to be my year, 2015. The year I took these wings and learned to fly. Instead, I felt like a squirrel who had been raised as a bird, only to discover that I was, in fact, a squirrel when I was unceremoniously shoved from the nest and planted, face first, into the forest floor.
I'm discovering that this is how being in your twenties feels, most of the time. It seems to you that while all the other birds are being shoved from the nest as unexpectedly as you were, that they somehow seem just a little happier, a little more successful, or a little more accepting of this change than you.
I've also discovered that most people seem to feel this way, and that it is a skewed perception of life brought on by a limited understanding of the reality of other people's lives when compared with our own. It doesn't make it any easier.
My point - and I do have one - is this: I was so excited for you, 2015, and you weren't at all what I expected. Three moves, two jobs, and one quarter life crisis later, I'm left feeling like you've knocked me down a peg or two. It wasn't always this way between us, 2015, but the longer I spent with you, the worse things seemed to get. I started off strong, naively optimistic that our relationship would be as simple going forward as my relationship with 2014 had been. But it wasn't to be - I was navigating new waters, without a map, and my only knowledge of sailing came from that movie about a big storm where things went very, very badly.
The last several years of my life have forced me to confront numerous unexpected changes (imagine that) but the one constant in my life was my role as a reader of words, taker of tests, and drinker of coffee (and eventually, other beverages). I liked that role. I spent my entire life living it, and I was good at it. And while I was simultaneously relieved and excited to be taking on a new role, I don't think I realized how difficult it would be to give up my old one, or to see other people living it in my stead. This change, and the multiple relocations that came as a result, left me feeling isolated socially and emotionally from my network of friends, a blow I saw coming but that left me reeling nonetheless.
In a lot of ways, I consider you to be the toughest year of my life. And I want you to know that I recognize how that sounds. I know that there are people who have struggled this year far more than I ever have, and that I am blessed in more ways than I can, in my current state, convey. I do know that I am lucky: that I am healthy, that I have a home and a job, and that these are things have not always been the case. There have been periods of my life in which I wished for you, 2015, and now that I reflect on how you were spent, I don't know whether I should laugh or cry.
Still, I wouldn't be telling the whole truth if I didn't give you a little credit, 2015. You kicked me in the ass, to be sure, but you also forced me to be present for the first time in a long time. I cried this year. A lot. And there was a time in my life where that wouldn't have happened. That is just one of the ways in which I've grown. I've become a different person this year than I anticipated, and I have to thank you for that, 2015, because while I'm not as happy or as put together as I thought I would be, I am more aware of myself and my world, and what it means to live in it. I did things for others this year, but mostly I was selfish. In the absence of the life and the people I had relied on, I became my own friend. I did things I wanted to do, simply because I wanted to do them. And I began creating and writing more regularly than I have in years. And that feels like a victory, so I'm claiming it.
I became an active participant this year, someone responsible not just for my own well being but for others' as well. I made decisions that impacted my future and while it felt scary, it also felt good. I was acutely aware this year of feeling stuck, but the result was that in surviving it - in surviving you, 2015, I have gained momentum. I was moving, and have kept moving, and it reminds me of a quote by Henry David Thoreau (although I can't tell you if it's correctly attributed to Walden, since I started but did not finish it this year - figures!)
"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the
life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
I've always found this quote interesting, because Thoreau does not make empty promises. He doesn't claim that if you can dream it, you can do it. He simply states that action is less fruitless, in his experience, than a lack of action. The beauty is, as another old dead guy probably said, is in the attempt. This year was an attempt. Possibly fruitful, definitely frustrating, sometimes seemingly a failure, but an attempt nonetheless. Perhaps with the perspective of time, I'll look back on you with a little less frustration and a little more fondness, but for now, I'll say this: thank you for your time, 2015, and for the opportunity to make an attempt.