Champagne clinks and gold streamers, glitter ball drops and impatient anticipation. This is how we commemorate the tradition of December 31st.
However, it’s always an anti-climax, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you, or themselves. We know that the strokes of a clock don’t conjure change like a rabbit out of a hat, and we accept that switching our calendars does not mark a shift in the operations of the universe.
Like many other things in our lives, the myth of the New Year is a calculated state of mind. Like superstition and sunny optimism, the New Year is something we embrace and perform ourselves. No trickery, no stooges, no magic.
We are the silver linings and magic tricks. We are the abracadabra.
New Year has never looked so mystical, and the previous year has never looked as good as it does in the rear view mirror. Reckoning time and grandfather clocks, silver confetti and sharing the empty resolutions made to be broken.
365. 12. 52. These are the numbers that decide when a year has passed. The earth made it’s way around the sun, while we searched for our own version of it.
When you reflect on the last year, what do you see? Some of us had it all, some of us lost it all. Some of us stood still.
The start of the new year was a good time for me. I was consumed by longing and optimism, and for once I had faith in myself. I was determined to change my own life and quit complaining about a situation that only I had the power to change. Although I didn’t reap any immediate benefits, in hindsight I accomplished a lot. I was the busiest unemployed person that I had ever known.
I was given a wealth of opportunities to expand on my writing, if only for free. I received an email from Barack Obama acknowledging a blog I had sent to The White House. I established myself as a blogger locally and created an online presence that still brings me opportunities. I dipped my toes in unfamiliar waters, and I got taken advantage of. But even that, I am grateful for. I lost fair weather friends, only to nurture concrete bonds with new faces later in the year. I accepted the paralysing grief of the previous year, and I moved forward.
“We too have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine; But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne.”
Summers are hazy and warm for a lot of us, they’re filled with sounds of ice cream truck melodies and long drives, they bring us bright photographs and bleached hair. For me, Summer felt like nostalgia. Once again, I had hit rewind and I ended up back at my old summer job while I tried to make ends meet. I found how everything had stayed the same, and that nobody ever really changed. Familiar faces would whisper, and it became a fixture of my days, along with stained coffee cups and early mornings. I felt as though the Summer was particularly difficult, I felt I had to explain myself to everyone I had ever met- Why was I there again? Where was my grown up job? Why was I not moving on?
I ended my Summer with my own research project for my blog: The NATO Summit. This task was particularly difficult, but I proved to myself that I had it in me to investigate a subject, and report it even if it was only for my blog. I had never had more clarity.
“We too have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine; But seas between us broad have roared sice auld lang syne.”
Autumn is undoubtedly the richest time of year. It is reminiscent of burnt leaves and new yellow pencils. It reminds me of old friendships and coffee shop daydreams. I really did feel as though my life hit refresh during the fall, and it was invigorating to leave the stickiness of summer heat behind.
I found my stride in a new workplace, and I found new characters to fill my head with inspiration. A new Taylor Swift album dropped on a cloudy October morning, and it was one of my favourite days.
Faces from my past came and went, disappearing into vapour as quickly as they appeared, each came with a lesson, like my own version of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
“And there’s a hand my trusty friend! And give me a hand o’ thine! And we’ll take a right good will draught for auld lang syne.”
I found myself sliding into confusion as the Winter spun a chill around me. The world seemed so cruel, and so random. I struggled to understand the point of it all, and I felt anxiety firm its grip around me. Historically, November is a nasty month for me, and this year was no exception. So I did what I knew how to do, and I avoided it. Talk about a magic trick.
As a general rule, I love the Winter. I enjoy hiding in the dark, I enjoy staring at clear lights and getting my hands caught in ribbons and red paper. Winter however, does not love me the same way. Winter always teaches me a new lesson, and we have a complicated relationship with one another.
Air got cold, people became frosty, and I got tired.
All of a sudden, I felt guilty. I worked too much at a job where I couldn’t thrive, just as I did 12 months ago. I started the year making a change, and wound up right back at the start. I felt as though I was playing the Game of Life, and I was losing. I hate to lose. Instead of sprinting to success, I was simply taking stepping stones in circles.
Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? So do I. What matters less is how fast we reach our destination, as long as we make it in the end- even if we’re breathless and aching from the run.
I got told that I never know how to accept help. I suppose that much is true. Raised in a Beyonce generation, I want to believe that I can do it all myself. I don’t need help, I don’t need a hand or a lift. I need myself. The truth is, I do need help. I can’t do this alone, and no one should have to do anything alone in a world inhabited by billions of hearts just like ours, each searching for a purpose.
Although I don’t often see it, I did change this year.
My personality is different, my writing is different, and both are more honest and cautious at the same time. Honest about experience, honest about failure and growth. Careful not to lose track of what I am, careful not to expose too much but to give enough, careful to stay authentic and credible. I’m also terrified that people will think I’m not smart enough, and my greatest fear is that I lose the potential I once had. We’re all scared that we lost our best qualities in our journey to adulthood, but the fear makes sure that actually we never lost anything at all. The fear held us together.
It’s been a long year, but here’s the thing about calendars: we can always mark a new page. It’s not over yet, and we’re not done. We’re not even close, but we did it- we survived. Cheers to the next one.