This will be my year—that’s what it said.
365 days have passed since then.
More than anything, I am glad it’s over.
I want to celebrate and take a little time to just savor the fact that I made it another trip around the sun—and that I survived the revolution.
Of course, this isn’t my birthday or the New Year, but it is an ending to one thing and an inevitable beginning to the next.
August is the start of the academic year, and therefore, the beginning of the academic calendar.
I have shared a little about this before, but having an agenda is a lifeline for me.
Other than assisting me in scheduling and planning my life, it is a place for me to doodle and draw, keep track of goals and affirmations, and to be creatively organized.
The type of planner I order usually has a short saying or mantra on the front; as a testament to my ever present snark and sass, I normally take the liberty of choosing one such as “I AM VERY BUSY.”
Last year, I suppose I was trying to change… to be more optimistic.
And so, “This Will Be My Year” it was: in holographic letters and a groovy 1970’s font on a pastel pink backdrop.
Looking back today, those words seem like a highly poetic slap in the face; I can’t help but wonder if I brought the irony upon myself.
I’ve known from a young age, thanks to Hannah Montana, that everybody has bad days. And thanks to Friends, I have since learned that sometimes it isn’t your day, your month or even your year.
My bad year started in the back of a van, as most bad years do.
A song by Sleeping at Last was playing through my headphones and a funny thing happened in my mind.
Suddenly I could only focus on things that were wrong with me: things I saw as flaws, characteristics I had lived with and come to loathe, less than perfect parts of my personality.
I would like to say that the goal of this is not to belittle anyone else’s feeling or experiences. Every life is so wonderfully different and everyone has a right to their tragedies. There are an ample amount of people in this world who have it worse than I do and plenty who are far less privileged, but I can only speak to my own experience.
The goal of admitting the battle the past year has been is in hopes that I can heal, others can be helped and have their struggles validated and we can all realize that the mind can occasionally be a sickly breeding ground of sorrow, grief, and turmoil. There are some things that can be controlled and some things that cannot. A good amount of life is riding out the waves we don’t have the ability to swim through.
I remember clearly the first time my doctor mentioned the word depression. I had only gone in for a routine check-up, but I ended up crying for most of the afternoon on a clown-covered pediatrics table.
I left that day with my head in two separate places. Part of me was in disbelief and felt minor rejection, while the other part, sounding slightly relieved, was whispering “I cannot believe you didn’t see this before.”
Depression does this silly little dance sometimes, and I’ve come to know it well. The main premise is a repetition of steps where it stomps across the brain jollily, crushing beneath it things like your confidence, security, hope, faith, reason—and sometimes, your will to continue on another day.
I am often paranoid about the thoughts going through the minds of people around me. I think they must see right through all my efforts to be a great, productive, put-together, optimistic person; I think they must only have the capacity to see what I see—to see my flaws.
I have the power to look at any situation and quickly come up with the worst thing that could happen, and sometimes I believe that it inevitably will, because the more I experience the more of a realist I become.
I think every bad thing that happens to people around me is my fault; as if they are being punished for the terrible person my mind likes to tell me I am.
With that in mind, the year hasn’t been easy. I have witnessed more loss, heartache, hardships, and stress than I wanted to believe was possible.
Each time something happened, I told myself (and really believed) that the wildest of it was over; things couldn’t possibly get any worse.
Eventually I had to stop telling myself that lie, because each time life and circumstances somehow managed to prove me wrong.
The days became a game, where I waited with clenched teeth for the next catastrophe to advance.
But it’s been 365 days now, and I am so tired of playing this game.
When times are tough, it’s easy to tell yourself, or even others, to stay positive and focus on looking for the good around you.
The struggle comes from within. When I should be focusing on the good, my brain is shouting and spiraling. The real problem isn’t that it starts, but that once it begins, I can’t stop it.
I’m capable. I know what is rational and I know when my mind is being absolutely ridiculous, but I don’t have a lot of control over the things it thinks.
Most days I feel like a wall flower witnessing someone do something crazy and senseless, but instead of having the ability to ration with, help, or stop them, I’m glued in place, restrained in every sense; I just have to watch it happen, and let it play out.
Reflecting on “My Year” has shown me that there is always something to be thankful for.
The hardest days still held the smallest joys. I learned I could find contentment in the little things, like sunshine, reading for a while, taking a walk, singing a song, spotting a flower in bloom, or seeing someone I loved smile.
It’s very cheesy and very cliché, but when your mind and your circumstances are against you, those little things are sometimes the only thing to remind you there is a God who is for you.
It’s the little things that let me know he is still there, when everything else in me struggles to believe it.
Life is messy, and so is my mind, but there is a savior who has taught me the difference between a truth and a lie.
This wasn’t my year, but it’s over now. And I’m not without hope.
I don’t expect smooth sailing from here on out, but I do know that I can face the unexpected; I just can’t keep doing it alone.