When the new year arrived last year, I was very ready to say goodbye. 2014 was not-so-nice, but 2015 was quite sweet. I use the idea of water a lot, and I believe that if 2014 was being thrown into cold water, 2015 was learning how to swim back to shore. My life has changed, and I'm changing with it is a good quote to describe 2014 and 2015. 2014 was a bit of a forced change, whereas 2015 was learning how to roll with that change. It kept me on my toes, I had to keep swinging and roll with the punches as they came. But here we are! An end of another year.
Around the end of each year, my friend Sim and I sit down and email one another discuss how the year that passed went. Earlier in the week I was speaking to Sim about our upcoming emails and she told me about the words she chose to follow for 2016. After reflecting on 2015, I began to realize that a lot of the common themes that appeared throughout the year were all about becoming clean. As the Great Queen once said, normally when you go through something heartbreaking, you want to close yourself off from being open and being vulnerable, which was exactly what I tried to do in 2014. For a lot of that year, I retreated. I backed away and tried to hide everything that was going on. I glazed over the sadness; I didn't comment on it enough. I would only post things that made it look like I was happy. No dents were allowed in my armour; nothing that hinted at being broken or sad was not allowed to surface, even if I was. I was sad but no one, besides close friends, was allowed to know that. The woman I was wasn't allowed to be seen as anything but strong, and to me, strong meant being silent about my sadness and struggles.
There came a time - sometime around February - that I grew tired of pretending. I was tired of being a side character in my own life. I wrote publicly for the first time about my breakup a year after it occurred. Hitting publish terrified me. I knew that being so exposed didn't only leave me vulnerable to criticism, but it also showed that I was struggling. There was a metaphor I thought of during the ending of my relationship - the I'm going to stay in bed because even getting up to get a glass of water makes me too sad part of the ending. The metaphor I created was one I had a dream about a few weeks prior: we were a few years into living together and we had our own home, except there were lightbulbs burnt out, holes in the walls, and shattered mirrors and windows. A few weeks later, I thought about this dream and compared our relationship and troubles as if they were that house; there might be some lightbulbs missing, some broken windows and some fist-sized holes in the walls, but there was still that foundation and that structure. I vividly remember saying on that cold Sunday in March I don't see why we need to throw everything away just because of these things. I believed that things were fixable. See, you need a basic structure in any relationship between two people, romantic or not. But there needs to be more. And it needs to be tended to and nurtured and fixed when the footing is all wrong.
But no one should have to beg for another person to help fix that house.
Sometimes you just have to close the door and fix it yourself.
I mean, it is all about the structure - but all of the other things matter in that house, too. So, my desire in 2015; to be a woman that patched up her own walls, replaced her own windows, and figured out how to reach those high lightbulbs herself. It wasn't until I allowed myself to be vulnerable and open that I was able to progress and move forward. The year felt like I stopped caring about things like that anymore; I became carefree, I became unapologetic, I became clean. It wasn't until reminiscing over the past year that we determined my unofficial-but-now-official word for 2015: clean. Everything that followed hitting publish on that blog post has created an incredible journey of inner strength and casting aside doubt. I shed that armour that sadness and heartache created for me. In return, I became a woman that finds her strength in having no armour at all.
In 2014, I was thrown into cold water, and in 2015 was learning to swim. In 2016, I will hopefully be reaching land, laying out a towel and getting a tan. In Sim's words: in 2015 you cleansed. In 2016, you shine. I said shine out-loud three times after she suggested that as my guiding word. I liked what it stands for. It reflects, it glistens, it's clear, and it's light.
There are things about myself that'll never change from year to year; I'll always blush at any sort of attention. I will always be horrible at brevity, but I'll always write anyways. I will be there for people that need it. And there will never come a time that I won't sit on the counter in my kitchen and eat ice cream out of the tub; mostly because I don't believe in depriving myself of sweets for breakfast and because sometimes it's the only thing that'll help me get out of bed that morning. These are all things about myself that will stick around in 2016 (and for the foreseeable future), but when it comes to 2016, I really want to embody the word shine. I've spent far too long being scared of failing. I've been comparing and wishing I was everyone else but myself. I've been fighting the impostor syndrome and I'm exhausted. It's time to let go of everything that's been locked away and hidden underneath armour. That water is nothing but a kiddie pool that I've outgrown. The house is built, the walls are up and the lights are on. I'm not afraid anymore - how could I be? The shine from the lights are so bright, they're showing me the way.
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