What have I learned from this year? What did I come to expect from it, but more importantly: what did I take away from it?
Looking Back on 2017
When I was asked these questions today, I didn’t know how to approach it. After all wasn’t it just January? Yunno, last January. Where had all that time gone? What had I done? What had I learned?
I sat there, sitting at the table at work thinking about this past year. Sure, it’s been a hell of a year, but did it feel like a success? Did I grow? Surely, I had. We all do, in some way or another. It wasn’t like I was some other-worldly stunted shrub screaming up at an alien sky–though my defiance would admirable.
Some years we see our growth: we take leaps and bounds in the directions we want to travel. Sometimes, however, life throws a wicked curve-ball and we are forced to adjust. Sometimes these detours teach us the most.
2017 was like my detour. I started out wanting this year to be great. Hell, I think we all strive for that. Somewhere along the way that line of greatness blurred itself and many of the things I wanted to do fell by the wayside. The trials of life tested my mettle and I got burned. That doesn’t mean the end of the world is upon us. After all, some of the most precious stones are subjected to enormous amounts of pressure before becoming what they are. It just means we have to dust off those ashes and start anew.
It’s never too late to begin again.
3 Takeaways from 2017
So what did I learn? Well, here are my three takeaways of 2017:
First and foremost was my health. This last year marked my 8th anniversary of my weight loss, something that comes with its own unique set of peaks and valleys. However, despite my tremendous success with my physical health it was the growth of my mental health that I surprised me the most.
We all know what a doormat is. A rubber, sometimes padded, mat that you scrub your feet against before stepping inside. Well, I guess you could say that I’m that doormat, taking whatever beating the world wants to apply.
While I might not say that I cured myself of this, because let’s face it: I’m just a walking people-pleaser right down to the bone, I have learned to say NO more often, and more importantly I’ve learned to not let things bother me so badly. No more walking volcano-Mitch. Those poor people of Pompeii have been cheering for days.
Besides, at the end of the day I have more important things to worry about than pleasing everybody, and getting upset over the little, tiny things.
There is something magical about art. You take a blank page full of possibilities and you tease out an image: a brand new creation, a child of sorts born of the mind. Art has always been a love of mine and a skill that I continue to foster each and every year, yearning to get better with every line I put to page.
With that in mind I was quite content in the direction I was taking. I had my pens. An inky dream that I could delve into … A midnight of monochrome with a splash of color here and there. Trust me, I love my pens. You can’t have my pens. In the words of Gollum:
But, along the way something happened. I subscribed to a monthly art box and found myself with new utensils. Foreign art supplies … Something alien and unfamiliar. It was a challenge that I had not expected. It was even more unexpected as I found myself looking forward to when that next box would arrive.
While I still hold my pens quite dearly–seriously, I’ll be clutching these things till death decides to haul me away–I’ve allowed myself to experience all new media, and in the future I hope to continue to test and experiment with them to create a plethora of new, wonderful creations alongside my already inky paradise.
Lastly I feel the greatest growth lies with my writing. To be honest, though, I did very little writing last year. So you’re probably wondering why on earth is this your field of greatest yields? I spent this year wanting to write, yearning to finally put to page that novel that’s been hovering in the back of my mind.
So why didn’t I? What stopped me. Well, I could give many excuses. After all I’ve had twelve months to mull it over. That would all be noise though. Nervous chatter. What it boils down to is that word: wanting.
I never got past that stage. I wanted to do a lot. I wanted more than anything to hold that book in front of me and cheer at my success. I saw the end, but lacked the spark to really get that fire started.
Sure I was creative. I had ideas. If you peak inside the folder on my laptop you would cringe at the sheer volume of documents I’ve accrued. So why the hell did I not have that book I so desperately wanted?
As, it turned out it was fear. Fear that I would never be good enough, that my work would crumble under the eyes of my audience, and so I let a dream fade into the background. I told myself I was not a writer. That book I fantasized about was simply a dream. A waking nightmare that would haunt me till I die.
Pretty melodramatic, right?
But something happened last month. Yes, that’s right. Last month. Way to stoke the fire so late in the game. I took my fist and I punched a hole in that wall of fear that I had been building. I told myself: “So what if its bad. What if you’re terrible. You could be the worse writer on the face of this earth. But, if you do nothing. You will have nothing. You will spend each year wanting and having nothing to show for it.” It was easier said than done, luckily I know a few writers who throw some pretty hefty punches. They get it.
A Year of Acceptance
This year I learned to accept myself. I may not always have the answers. I may be rusty and full of self doubt. I will most likely hate a good majority of what I write. But among those moments there will also be good times. We all suffer under that weight, at some point, but it’s that balance you must strive for. The good with the bad. Peaks and valleys.
Allow yourself to worry, but don’t let it unhinge you. Forget about trying to make things perfect. Allow yourself to fail. Fall but refuse to stay down. Begin again and accepy the possibility that you may be worth it. Weird, right? Who knew that such a fire could exist within you. Allow yourself to journey down a new and winding path regardless of the bends that come your way.
After all, sometimes it’s the detours that teach you the most.