Every single year, we are a slightly different version of ourselves. It’s like there is a constellation of experiences scattering and rebuilding us—altering us in some way. We stumble, we grow and we learn.
If I learned one thing last year is that things can go from absolute shit to true magic. The end of 2016 was a strange one for me, filled with a haze of self-doubt and an anxiety that I can’t quite explain. I was a mess, that year was a mess. But I needed that mess because it culminated in an epiphany that has made 2017 one of my favorites.
Here’s something else I learned. Feeling good takes some serious effort. Happiness doesn’t just come, settle in and stay forever. For a long time, I thought that it did. I believed that once I had checked off some of my goals and had my life in order, contentment would step right in to save me. But it doesn’t work that way. Because feeling happy requires sitting down with the ugly parts of yourself first. It’s not easy, but experiencing emotions in all their colors is why we are here on this planet.
Here’s a letter with the lessons that quietly came to me this year. Because despite life’s messiness, monotonies and struggles, we can all begin again, every single day. We can all fight to be really deeply happy.
A Letter to 2016 Me:
You’re different today. You will be tomorrow too. That’s the good news. Don’t stop growing. But don’t ever mistake growth as the finish line. There will always be more to discover and understand.
In the meantime, it’s ok to spill everywhere— learn to be okay with the puddles. Sharpen your backbone without sharpening your temper. You can have a loud voice without saying a word.
Be the version of yourself you have the most fun with. Make some time for her.
Travel so far that you have postcards hanging from every rib. Make sure they all have nice things to say.
Be open and welcome people in. Sit down for drinks with the things you disagree with. Nothing good ever comes from closing your mind. You can’t dislike things until you taste them. Even then, don’t waste time disliking things. That’s so boring. It’s thrilling to love.
Trust people. Never stop searching for the good in them. Puzzle the world with a soft heart when it seems like you have every right to carry a hardened one.
Rough pasts can indeed turn into storybook presents. It’s okay to go the wrong way down a one way path. It’s okay to leave a piece of your heart in the wrong place. Because all the wrong turns, all the holes mistaken for paths, all the unintentional campsites, they all get you somewhere. Right now, you are just weaving through a bigger story. You may tiptoe through it at first, but soon you will learn to hopscotch through it while laughing a shit ton.
Because life can be a messy endeavor. But to stumble is to live.
May your 2018 bring gratitude, deep connections and above all; love and happiness.