As 2018 comes to a close, I find myself sitting to write my yearly review, where I analyze personal, creative, and professional triumphs and losses. Its similar to a professional annual review (if you’ve ever had one), but I’m giving it to myself, and I’m taking into account almost every aspect of my life. Where have things gone really well? Where can I improve? What is beyond my control?
I’ve grown a tremendous amount as a person in the last year, the first year without my father in it. January started out very rocky. I spiraled into depression to the point I nearly pushed away my best friends completely. I wasn’t healthy to be around and some part of me still questions whether I am today, but I’m pretty sure that has a lot to do with Generalized Anxiety more so than fact. I had to learn to channel my feelings into something better, so I went back to the basics of who I was as a person and what I thought about the universe and my existence in it as a whole. The death of a close loved one, especially someone who had such a significant impact on my life, caused me to question the very foundation of my place in this world and it led me to some dark truths about life. It put me on a new path to betterment, personal fulfillment, and personal growth. So, I’ve changed. How I see the world and the people in it have changed. How I respond to a crisis, even minute ones, has changed. I’m still wondering if I’ve improved or devolved, but I can say that I feel more at peace with who I am and the universe than I did a year ago.
While my personal growth has been rapid (and a bit erratic), I would say my creative growth has taken a very sharp decline. Some may think that’s harsh, considering my book is being published and will be out in March, that I worked on it consistently over the year with changes per the developmental editors and copy editors and proofreaders, but outside of that one project I found no time or energy for much else other than my wedding. A lot of my creative pursuits went into hand making decorations and invitations. I had a long list of creative goals for the year, and perhaps for a year so jam-packed with life-shifting firsts, I may have expected too much of myself. I read less than I wanted, I haven’t drawn or painted in a year or more, and the work I was able to accomplish in writing (outside of my soon-to-be-published book) was pretty dismal. Some of this can be contributed to the lack of time between grieving, a new job, wedding planning, and house hunting… but a considerable chunk can also be summed up to just plain lack of motivation or laziness. (The lack of motivation may or may not be directly correlated with depression flaring up periodically throughout the year).
I did get married this year, without my father. I managed to keep myself so busy and wrapped up in the tiny details of everything that I couldn’t dwell on that sad fact until two days before the wedding when I had a breakdown at work and went home early. The day of, I was so focused on willing away the projected 100% chance of rain that I staved off any sadness. I kept myself so wrapped in a whirlwind of decisions, chaos, and uncertainty that I need to look at the photographs to really remember the details. It’s not that I didn’t want to remember my wedding, I did and I thankfully do, but I didn’t want to be sad during it. I managed to keep myself emotionally stable and I enjoyed the day, and it didn’t rain until the start of the reception, which happened to be indoors.
By October, Scott and I found ourselves well and truly tired of apartment life. New management, leaking roof, mold, unkept grounds, and disorderly neighbors (and their pets), pushed us into house hunting. With our lease coming to an end in February 2019, we were determined to find a place to live before then. We did, and we close on the house January 4th. It seems that every week we grow closer to being rid of our apartment, it fights back with some new and crazy antics. I’m beginning to really feel like the place has a mind of its own, and it is angry that we’re leaving.
With the Solstice, Scott and I each wrote on a paper three things we wanted to give up in the new year, to leave in the dark of the old. I chose: Self-doubt, laziness, and impatience. We severed our ties to our individually chosen things symbolically by cutting string wrapped three times. Then, we drank tea and ruminated on the year to come.
2018 went by in an absolute blur. I’ve been so busy that I feel like an entire year passed in three months. I’ve grown in my position at my new company. While most days I still feel like I’m in a dark room feeling my way around until I find the right answer or the right path, I’m getting a better sense of the environment and direction. My physical health has improved substantially. I go to the gym at least 3 times a week, and Scott and I have really nailed down our weekly meals. I’m on the home stretch for seeing years of work come to fruition, with my book being published in March. I’ve reinvented my spiritual practice to include more natural elements that speak stronger to me than conventional religion ever did. I’ve made conscious efforts to think positively, even forcing myself back into the lane when emotions get strong and swerve me off the path. I’ve taken steps to be a more mentally sound and present person, though sometimes I slip up. But, we all do. It’s part of being human.
Normally my years are marked by great strides of professional or creative growth, notches that I can look back on as visible representations of progress. This year, it is marked by personal triumphs and life-milestones. I’ve never been able to easily quantify personal triumphs. Those things are often intangible. This year I can mark them for what they are – ground gained on becoming a healthier and happier person. While I cannot physically see those successes, I can most assuredly feel them. The rest, I’ll tackle in the new year.