Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Year of Us

I'm sitting in a coffee shop, three days in to a new year, drinking the same too-sweet, over-priced latte I've had three times a week since November. I am irritated in equal measure by my freshly painted yet chipped fingernails, and the patriarchy. Since 1 January, I've learned that Chanel lip gloss is capable of freezing in your purse, and I'm still allergic to avocado.

Nothing has changed since 2014.

A lot changed in 2014, though. It was a great year in so many ways. I walked across the stage to be hooded as a Master of Arts, my smile radiating with a force not seen since Chernobyl. I've never been so proud of myself, and I've never felt that so many people were proud of me. I did it. I finished my MA.

And there were times when I didn't think I'd make it out alive. It's hard to sit sobbing in a bathroom stall, your professor having asked you to leave class because the tears streaming silently down your face are a distraction to others, 90 first-year papers sitting on your desk at home to be graded in three days, your fridge fully stocked with ketchup and StoveTop, and having your heart shattered by an Instragram photo, and think that it's going to be alright.

But I was, and am, alright. And I feel like that's the crux of the past twelve months for me: that it will always be alright.

I was lying in bed a little while ago, my head pounding and ears ringing - the remnants of a "really good cry." Cursing myself for having cried so much into my phone that the earpiece was fuzzy (again), it occured to me that I wouldn't feel like this always. I had felt much worse in the past, and I had felt like a superhero just a few days previously. And those intense feelings were all encompassing at the time, but they didn't last forever.

I am comforted by the notion that "forever" is a construct. Because "forever" isn't real. In February, I felt like I would be in school forever. But I finished. In the summer I felt like I would be jobless forever. But I found employment. In the fall I felt like I'd be trapped in a complicated friendship forever. But we've parted ways. Nothing lasts forever, because forever doesn't exist.

And this awareness, I think, gave me the push I needed this year to do brave things. I have said words and worn lipsticks and read books and met people and done cool things I would not, and could not, have done had I believed in forever. I have cried more, panicked more, and stress-ate more this year than probably ever before, but I have also been surrounded by the more incredible people, been challenged more, and laughed the most (2014 was also the year I realised my life is a sitcom; stay tuned for further info).

And as I wave goodbye to a year that was full of joy and drama and struggle and excellent stories told over brunch without makeup, I can honestly say I'm not sad to see it go.

And, as always, at an end there is a beginning:

2014 was a year about Me. It was about my accomplishments, my failures, my heartbreaks and my stories. But I can honestly say I've had enough of that now. I am tired of thinking and talking about myself all the time. I'm bored. I cannot be all about myself forever.

I propose that 2015 is a year about We. I want build friendships with unlikely people, volunteer, listen to other's opinions first before offering my own. I want community and togetherness. I want to remember important things in others' lives and share in joy and loss. I want this year to be about the many instead of the one. I want us all to be alright.

Roll on, 2015. Here's to the Year of Us.

-Jillz.