This year, I learned my grandmother has dementia. This year, I saw family and friends torn apart over politics. This year, just like last year, I saw some of my lifelong artistic idols leave this world. This year, I went home for the first time in a very long time, reconnected with and disconnected from friends old and new, unearthed long buried family secrets, and once again, did not quit smoking.
This year, I still did not figure out what I want to be when I grow up, but realized it bothers me a lot less at nearing forty than it did at nearing thirty. I finally figured out that what you do to earn survival paper is not necessarily going to align perfectly with your passions, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That your real joy may come from playing D&D or baking fruit pies or running marathons and that you haven't found a way, or necessarily even want, to make that your career, and that's okay.
This year, I failed in many of my goals. I am zero pounds lighter than I was this time last year, my newest book that's been "almost complete" since 2013 still isn't ready for print, and my savings account better resembles a mason jar full of coins than a nest egg (...fine. My savings account is a mason jar full of coins). But those failures are at least partially due to discovering newer, and perhaps more urgent goals that I have made an effort to fulfill. That's not to say those other goals aren't important or that my failure proved positive, only that other things mattered more this year, and that's okay.
This year, I had to face head-on a few things that I really did not want to. That I was not prepared to. That made me uncomfortable, anxious, and upset. And I did not handle some of those things well. I cried when I should have remained calm, I stayed quiet when I should have spoken up, I laughed at inappropriate moments. I hurt some feelings unnecessarily, and hurt myself sparing the feelings of others. I did not respond as I wanted to in many, many situations this year, and that's okay.
This year, I went to concerts I could not afford, bought books I had no room for, went places I would have never considered going five years ago, and wore the comfortable but ugly shoes to work. This year, I made a conscious decision to put experiences and comfort above frugality and vanity. I took some tiny steps towards living a life I can appreciate. I tried to think more about today than five years from now, to live in the moment, to ignore a little of my anxiety. I put my own joy ahead of a lot of other things, and that's okay.
This year, I learned that it truly is the small moments that count.
And so, on this New Year's Eve, I have but one piece of advice for everyone, myself very much included: think smaller. Yes, plan for that trip to Costa Rica, but maybe take a trip to your grandparents' house first. Start writing the book that's been building up inside you, but also take a minute to write a text message to a friend you haven't talked to in awhile. Train for that marathon, but be willing and eager to sit down when someone needs your ear. Eat a few boxes of Kraft Dinner so that you can afford that concert ticket - you're unlikely to remember what you had for dinner on some random Wednesday in 2018, but you most certainly won't forget being in the same room with one of your favourite bands as they belt out tunes you love. I suggest that we all make more of an effort to reach out to those we love, and feel less guilt about distancing ourselves from those we do not. That we spend more time doing things we truly enjoy and a little less time doing things we feel obligated to do (I mean, within reason. You should still probably feed your kids on a semi-regular basis). That we, without shame, ditch goals that we aren't actually passionate about fulfilling and pursue with a fierceness those that we are. This year, I hope we all try to be a little kinder, and little more patient, a little more honest, and a whole lot bolder. I hope we try a little harder to follow our own bliss, to reach out to those we love, to set aside time for ourselves. This year, I hope we all try to think a little smaller.