I did promise a year-in-review type blog post a while back, and now I’m reminded that I have more than just the New Year as an excuse to do one. I’m coming up on my blog’s first anniversary.
On January 11th, one year ago, I posted my first blog post, and I have posted a blog once a week since then without fail. I’ve blogged before, even attempted a regular posting format, but I’ve never stuck with it this long. And I know that’s something to be proud of.
Beyond that, of course, there’s all the natural looking back that this time of year, (namely the beginning of a new one), encourages us to do, and I find I have not too few but too many ideas of where to go with this.
2016 was hell on wheels in way too many ways. It neither started nor ended how I thought it would. Not for me, and not for a lot of people. And I’m not under any illusions that I will do justice to this year in a single blog post, but it does deserve something. Thankfully, inspiration came to the rescue in the form of one of the best people I’ve gotten to know in 2016.
Kayla Hollatz recently posted on her blog “10 Questions to Spark Your Year in Review”, and, wouldn’t you know, it worked. (Of course, I won’t be using all ten questions, but, as Kayla is so very good at providing, it’s a nice place to start, and I would encourage you to check out her full post.)
What gave you the greatest perspective shift in 2016?
I started the year asking questions about Home, and I find a lot of them answered but, true to form, not in any way that I would have expected. 2015 saw me taking a leap and moving to Atlanta without a job or a place to live. 2016 was supposed to be about figuring those things out, and I did, but it didn’t involve staying in Atlanta.
As far as a shift in perspective, I feel like this is something I should have realized from the beginning. Nothing has ever turned out exactly like I expected, much to my chagrin most times, and yet I think it’s a lesson I still had to learn. And I probably had to learn it this way.
Because my perspective on Home has shifted. It’s something I’m still finding. I feel at peace where I currently am, but I know it’s not my home, for no other reason than I will have to move out by the end of June. (Long story.) At the same time, I don’t feel the same urgency to figure out what “home” is for me. I thought moving away from Atlanta would have me counting the days until I could move back. Now, though, while Atlanta is on my list and will always be a place I have a connection with, I don’t feel that I have to move back. For the first time in my life, in fact, I feel like I could move anywhere.
It’s still something I’m figuring out, but it’s something I’m excited to.
What worked this year that took you by surprise?
I took a lot of risks in 2016. Many of which, as stated above, did not work out the way I wanted. But I still took them, which is new for me. One of the risks I took was saying yes to things. Now, obviously, when you’re unemployed and looking for a purpose, you’re not really in a position to say “no” to every opportunity that comes along, but it still surprises me how many opportunities I said yes to. Moreover, how many more opportunities those led to.
I joined CreateLounge towards the end of 2015, but 2016 offered me a new and amazing role with the community. A role that started when I took a risk and reached out. Community, I’ve learned this year, always involves such risks. CreateLounge itself led to projects and collaborations that I know would never have been an opportunity had I not taken that first risk, and all the subsequent risks that followed. Through those I was able to publish my book, and I even found my cover designer, Painted Summers. I started a book club, was on a podcast, multiple times, and am moving towards other creative collaborations that are so amazing I can hardly believe I get to be involved in them.
Again, this surprises me because it’s not something I normally would have done, but maybe I need to stop focusing on that, on who I was, the kind of person who didn’t take such risks, and realize that I have changed into someone who does.
And maybe that’s the answer to the last question.
What was your most valuable lesson in 2016?
My most valuable lesson in 2016 is that I’m not the person I was at the start of it. More than that, I’m not the person I’ve been for most of my adult life.
In my first blog post, I mentioned how I’ve always been the good child, the one who didn’t make waves and was okay with that. This has always been a large part of my identity. Second to my intelligence, it’s where I’ve drawn my sense of self from the most. That’s why these past few years have been so surprising: I haven’t been acting like myself. But the reason why seems obvious now: I’m not who I was.
I’m not the one who doesn’t make waves. I haven’t been him for a while. And I find that excites me to no end. Because a lot of my life I have been depressed because I couldn’t see how anything was ever going to change, and here the thing I thought least likely to change has.
And if I can change, anything can, anyone can. If I can change then anything is really possible. Then 2017 might be the year where the things I’ve always dreamed of happening actually happen. Because I’m finally the person who can actually make them happen.
And if that ain’t something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.
2016 was hell on wheels in way too many ways, and 2017 has already got some challenges waiting for us. But, if nothing else, I know I’m starting this year with more potential than maybe I have ever had. That won’t make it easier, but that will make it possible. And, after the year we’ve had, that’s something we could use.
I don’t where I’m going to be a year from now. That’s always the second part of these things, where will you be one year from today? I don’t know, but something tells me I’ll be just as surprised, and something tells me that it’ll be good.
I think it’ll be good for you too.