You’ve not been easy.
In 12 months you successfully put me through every human emotion that there is. From grief to anger you designed an intricate path of human experience that both kicked me down and picked me back up again. On this roller coaster of life, you gave me insane highs and devastating lows. The hurdles you made me jump were higher than ever before, and when I fell, I fell hard. But I always got back up. Some of the challenges you gave me I’m still battling, and there’s no saying when those battles will be over.
I believe everything happens for a reason, so by default I know these challenges were necessary. Sometimes the justification behind their occurrence is unclear or blurry, but I know there is a solid foundation of reasoning for hand-picking these challenges for me. So instead of wishing that they never happened, I’m going to look ahead.
Not that 2017 is an automatic solution to any problem – our problems follow us into the New Year whether we want them to or not. Wishing that they never happened or wishing that they’d vanish into thin air when the clock strikes midnight isn’t something I see as sustainable. That being said if a genie appeared in front of me in this very moment, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a list of wishes armed and ready.
Before I look ahead, though, I need to know what I’m walking into the New Year with. So here’s to you, 2016, and all you’ve given me:
- You showed me that I can thrive in this world. I was convinced I’d never be able to leave my hometown because of how attached my heart is to this town and the people in it. But you made me realize that home is where the heart is, and as long as I remember that, I can be happy anywhere.
- You taught me the many ways in which love can be expressed. I used to believe there was only one way to love someone, but this was when I was naive and inexperienced with the human heart and the many ways that it accepts love.
- You showed me that I am strong. From living in another country, to surviving trauma and heartbreak, to hurdling more than one challenge at a time… you’ve shown me how capable I am of standing tall even when the weight upon my shoulders tries to crush me. You’ve enabled me to see the incredible magnitude of the strength I carry within me; I am humbled by my own courage and willpower to fight. It is this strength and integrity that I will walk into the New Year with, ready to tackle whatever comes next.
- Most importantly, you taught me how to love myself. I used to think I was doing this right. What I learned is there were many parts of me I didn’t know existed until you handed me the greatest adversity I’d experienced to this day. And then, you took away the one person I thought I needed to hold my hand through the aftermath. Turns out the person I needed wasn’t a boyfriend… that person was me all along, I just hadn’t trusted or respected or admired myself enough to see that until there was no one left to hold me up but me.
Cheers to you, 2016, for the self growth that you’ve promoted and the courage to continue this growth in the New Year. You were everything I needed you to be.
Now, looking forward: 2017 may not be the solution to the challenges I face today but it certainly represents opportunity. It represents a chance to heal and a chance to move forward from everything that plagued me this past year. It represents a blank page in the next chapter of my life that I get to write with my own pen. It represents new challenges that I will be able to defeat thanks to the wisdom and the courage that I’ve built over the past 21 years. If everything I learned and battled through each year of my life simply got erased at the stroke of midnight each January 1st, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So as I approach this new year of opportunity and adventure I choose to look at the past as a gift and not the thing that has hurt or tortured me.
I hope you’re listening.