The year is ending.
I think it’s probably more useful, around New Year’s Day, to reflect on the year that’s leaving us, instead of making lists of resolutions to burden the new year with expectations before it’s even begun. Maybe with the perspective gained from examining the good and the bad of the old year, we can approach the new year more constructively.
There was good this year. Much of it came out of my own efforts and decisions, and I can point to many of the joys of the year with a sense of accomplishment.
This year, I settled in at a new job where I never have to work on holidays, never have to skip lunch because I’m too busy to eat, and never have anyone yelling at me to work faster. I sometimes worry that the change was good for my blood pressure, but bad for my brain, who’s going soft without all that pressure to think fast and solve problems before someone dies. Everyone assures me I’ll soon have some opportunity to grow in the new place, and I look forward to starting that growth. I still miss parts of the hospital world. I can’t say I’ll never go back to the craziness, but for now I’m comfortable where I am.
This year, my husband and I went on a cruise so incredible that we’re going to do it again. We visited tropical islands and got sunburned and ate fancy cruise food. We got to touch dolphins and witness some of the best karaoke of all time. We had so much fun and met so many wonderful people and we’ve stayed in touch with many of them. I’m getting better at this “social” thing. Slowly.
We made tons of progress on the house. Paint, wiring, electrical and plumbing repairs, ripping out and replacing floors… we’ve been really busy. Of course, as it always goes with houses, we’re nowhere near done and new problems keep popping up as we fix others, but it’s more “our home” every day and we love it.
I’ve written more than ever this year, dedicating more time to my blog and to commenting on the work of other talented bloggers. I took a writing class, getting over some of my fears of meeting new people and sharing my work in public, opening myself up to criticism. I’ve gotten involved with Twitter and started following and interacting with some fascinating people, who may talk me into joining writing groups who can help me improve at what I love.
I tried new recipes. I finally took my sewing machine out of the box and made something. I played with glass. I visited home and saw my brother’s new place, and I spent a week in the Outer Banks soaking up the sun (and the rain). I got a smart phone. I lived through another hurricane.
I need to be honest with you. I had a very hard time being objective this week when I looked back at 2012. While I could find plenty of good in it to celebrate, it was also a very painful and difficult year for me. As the year ends, I find myself hurting, frustrated, and angry. There have been many tears.
When I examine my pain, though, I realize that everything that hurt me this year was outside of my control. I didn’t fail. I can’t look back and say that I didn’t try hard enough, wasn’t strong enough. That’s difficult for me to accept – when you’re brought up in an atmosphere where you’re reminded daily that you can achieve anything you want if only you try hard enough, it’s hard not to feel guilty as you face your failures.
Life isn’t fair. But life isn’t unfair, either. Life just is. Life is happening and you’re caught up in it and sometimes bad people win the lottery and good people get cancer. That’s very hard for me to come to terms with; just ask my therapist. The little girl inside me with a cape and a strong sense of justice is stamping her feet and yelling that it’s just not right, but my task over the next year will be to try and explain to her that the world doesn’t work that way. She’ll be really mad about it, and she won’t want to believe me, but there are some things that even the most super of superheroes just don’t get to have control over, and that’s important to understand. Of course, giving up any sense of control over anything that happens is equally disappointing, so hiding under the covers and giving up isn’t the answer either. Somewhere between dark fatalism and sparkly idealism is the world of rationality and acceptance. I’ll get there.
Jen, this is beautiful.
It is so hard to accept change, especially when you didn’t initiate it. I had a similar experience a number of years ago of working in a hospital and HATING that department, but now I work in outpatient and also enjoy holidays off! Hope the next year is kind to you.
I agree that looking back on the year is a lot more beneficial. Certainly more so than making resolutions that will never make it past January.
I’ve decided I am never resolving to eat better or lose weight again, because those resolutions mock me by January 4th when I’m eating dinner on the couch and wondering if I want more mashed potatoes.
Hmm…it sounds like you did some very cool things this year (YAAAY CRUISE)! I’m sorry it was full of downs, too. Booo.
I think that’s why I had to sit and write this out, so I could see the good stuff and appreciate it despite the bad stuff. It helped to put the year in perspective.
So well said. Thank you. These are things I needed to read. I agree – approaching the new year by reflecting on the previous one is a good thing!
To seeing the good in everything…even when it is hard. Thank you for your post. Happy new year!
Sounds like you accomplished a lot this year…great post!!!!
Wow. Your year was a lot like mine. Lots of good, cool things, but also something bad that was out of my control and made me feel like a big loser. I hope you continue writing (I took the plunge and took an online writing course)!
I’d like to try an online writing course sometime. Where did you find yours?
Not sure if you saw my tweet to you about this, but I found it at writersdigest.com
Thanks! I’ll check it out.
Sounds like you had a great year, even with the hard. Wishing you a fun and happy filled 2013!
Oh, man, I get this. Most of the bad that has happened to us this year is out of our control, too (cancer, being second runner-up to 3 fantastic jobs, unexpected financial crises, etc.). And that part stinks, stinks, stinks.
But your good all sounded lovely! I need to think more about the good things that happened to us this year, too. Thank you for the reminder.
You have an amazing attitude. I hope 2013 brings you a lot of joy!
I’m impressed you were able to write this after a rough year. I didn’t do a year in review post because September 2011-2012 was one of the worst 12-month stretches of my life and I don’t know how to talk about it without sounding like a pity party. So I didn’t.
It’s especially nice that you were able to reflect on the good things as driven by your own efforts. Hoping for more good choices in 2013!
Thanks for the support, and I hope your new year is better than the last.
I have so much more to write and release, but I hold back for now because of the pity party issue, and because the pain isn’t solely mine to share. For now, I’ll keep my public writing a little lighter.
This is so true, that life isn’t fair. But I really like that you added that it isn’t UNfair, either. Life is what it is, and we can only do what we can to make the best of it.
Love your zen approach: “Life isn’t fair. But life isn’t unfair, either. Life just is.” So much harder for me to adopt in practice than in theory.
Yeah, it’s hard for me too! Hopefully this year I’m more action and less talk. 🙂