Happy New Years, my friends! I hope that you make 2017 one to remember fondly. I hope you walk away from this year with pride in all that you have accomplished. I hope you dare to live bravely, to challenge yourself, to find lessons in your failures as well as your successes. I hope you create an adventure that you will look back on in twenty years with a smile saying ‘I can’t believe I did that.’ I hope you slide into December 31st a little bit weary, a little bit ruffled, and with a contagious smile that just won’t quit. I hope you find joy and kindness, I hope you show the world what you are made of. I hope we all do.
I have always been a lover of New Years Resolutions, excitedly proclaiming my goals to my less-than-enthusiastic friends. I know that some don’t hold an abiding belief in this tradition, following the logic that change can and should be made everyday, not just at the beginning of a new year. And while I see the merits in their argument (I myself have decided on a random Wednesday that I had finally had enough and sought my change right them), I still can’t seem to refuse the hopeful joy I feel when that clock strikes midnight, the ball drops, and we all find ourselves collectively standing in a new time, a new day, a new hopeful beginning. It is like the first chapter in the sequel to a book you know and love. You are well aware of the pitfalls, the plots, the characters; but that does not detract from the magic of a brand new book.
There is a sparkle to a new year, a symbolic fresh start, a way to clean the slate and set tangible timelines to your goals. And while you are still the same person you were yesterday, you can look at your problem with fresh determination, even if it is only a change in your state of mind.
2016 was a year of foundations for me. It was a time for me to embrace the things I love and start tackling the maze that is the writing world. It was a year of change, of asking questions, of looking at myself in terms of my potential as opposed to my prior accomplishments. 2016 was a year of tearing down the walls that I had built, crashing through the limitations that I had set. And 2017 will be about putting on that hard hat and building on what I have started. It will be a time to view my life through a new lens, to begin answering the questions that I posed a year ago. 2017 will be a year of living and loving bravely, of baring my soul without apology. This year I resolve to take the next steps off the beaten path I have always so willingly followed. This year will be about potential.
There will be many failures; I am nothing if not deeply and profoundly human in everything that I do. I fail with the best of intentions. But this year I hope that I will not let those failures determine my path. I will struggle, and I will continue to question. I will feel discouraged and sad and wonder what the hell I am doing with my life. But my friends- that is to always to be expected. That is what it means to live a genuine life and be true to who you are. It is not an easy road, to follow your heart and your dreams. It is an unpaved adventure when you deviate from what is expected.
I have seen clearly what my life will be like if I don’t step outside of my box. I will continue to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and blearily hop in the shower to wake up. I will depend on my coffee as I drive to the same building I have worked in since I was 18 years old. I will be happy there; I have been happy there. I will bond with these people, occasionally go to happy hour with friends. I will plan vacations once a year to someplace new, saving every last penny. I will maybe have a few kids (to entertain the dog and cat). I will live a happy, ordinary life.
But when I come to those pearly gates, I will know that I did not live my life. I lived the life that was expected of me. It will be great, it will be grand; and it will be the epitome of everything I am not. I am organized chaos. I am a eternal optimist. But most of all, I am a girl full of dreams and stories that keep my head floating in the clouds. My closet is full of blazers and high heels, and yet I am happiest in my worn tennis shoes and literary t-shirts. I take pride in what I have accomplished, and yet I know in my heart that I am not living up to my potential.
We all know the dream, many of us carry it in our hearts and guard it zealously. Oh, how happy I would be to make my living with a pen in my hand and a story in my heart. And yet, I have come to a realization this past year: the outcome of my writing does not matter. If I never catch the attention of a publisher, if I never see my name on a best-seller list; that doesn’t mean that I failed. The true test is in the journey. If I keep writing, if I keep chasing that dream with wild abandon, if I still daydream about that one story I can’t get out of my head when I should really be reading the latest legal decision on that one case everyone is talking about; then I am winning, I am living my most genuine life.
This year I want to explore my boundaries. I want to re-discover what I really love and what I truly want. I want to do it for myself, not to check a box off of an ever-growing to-do list. This year I am going to be brave and start looking at the bigger picture. While I love my job, I know that I am settling by doing what I do. I am not challenged like I hope, I’ve hit the top rung of my current ladder and I am not satisfied with my view. I am capable of more than what my current task-set allows. And while I don’t think I will be plunging head-first into any new careers this year, I will start the journey to figure out what really brings me joy. I always knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I also envisioned a big glittery question mark that begged the question of ‘what else’? As I ramble down my literary road, what else out there will leave me fulfilled? I want to find out, I want to see what I can accomplish if I set my mind to it, I want to rediscover the passions that I fell in love with once upon a time. If nothing else, I will learn something new about myself and perhaps find some fresh fodder for my literary endeavors. I am forever learning, observing and soaking it all in.
These are my hopes for 2017, the dreams and adventures that I wish to look back on fondly next December as we prepare to ring in yet another year of change. While I thought about writing out my well laid plans on here with all of their lovely little bullet points and step by step directions, I think my purposes are best served with the intentions, the heart of what I am hoping to accomplish. Each month will bring with it a new challenge that I will set out to accomplish; and each task will be met in its own time.
2017 will be a year of self discovery; of learning to slow down and listen to myself, to follow my interests and desires and see where they will lead. It will be a year of taking a step back from the hold that mindless technology has taken on my brain and revitalize myself out in the tangible world. It will be a year of cultivating my mind and body, making small changes now that I will be grateful for in the future.
2017 will be a year of writing, of finishing what I started. It will be a year to explore the possibilities of publishing and facing my fear of public opinion. It will be a year to dedicate to this lovely little space that allows me to bring voice to my thoughts and feel a little bit less alone.
2017 will be about finding myself in small adventures; whether they be as simple as the pages of a book I would normally not read or as grand as a vacation to someplace I never would have envisioned visiting. It will be about finding the good in things that I all too often spot the negatives in.
2017 will be a year of investment; exploring new cultural experiences, finding common ground with people who feel like strangers, searching for a place to fit in a world that wasn’t necessarily created for people quite like me.
In this year, I hope to build, to grow, to look within myself and find a new perspective to color my views with. We have a world of possibilities at our feet and a choice in our hearts; to walk down the path so readily laid before us, or to take that leap and jump into the rambling woods beside us. This year I choose to live my true life; whether I succeed or fail doesn’t matter in the end. It’s going to be one hell of an adventure as we carve this road. I hope to see you amidst the trees, my friends.