2018 was a difficult year. So many things changed, people I love came into my life, people I loved left my life, promises fell through, plans fell apart, and nothing came out exactly how I wanted it to. As someone with anxiety, depression, and a permanent pessimist lense, it would be easy to look at this year for what it was: hot garbage. But I’m trying to reframe everything that happened so I can look back on this year and not think about the pain I endured, but instead, what I learned.
LESSON ONE: SAD BOYS
In 2019, sad boys (sadbois) are canceled. No matter what you have been told your whole life, it isn’t your job to get someone out of a situation. It is not your job to fix men. If they put being completely wrecked over prioritizing their health or yours, they don’t want to get better. If they aren’t making an effort to get out of their bad situation, they don’t want to get out of it. If they apologize every time for how they’ve hurt you and do the same thing over and over again, they aren’t going to stop.
Actions speak louder than words, no matter how pretty their words are. No matter how much they claim to respect women, love art, or care about your politics if their actions don’t prove it, they’re lying. Your sanity and energy should go towards someone who is who they say they are, not a liar or a manipulator.
LESSON TWO: SHOWING UP
If someone loves you, they’re going to show up for you. They’re going to come to your performances and your award receptions, they’ll make time to see you, they’ll show at the party. If you need them, they will come.
If they can’t physically be there, they will digitally be there. They’ll call, they’ll text, they’ll watch the live stream. And if they can’t do either, they will be so sad they can’t make it, and they will absolutely be at the next thing. Because if someone loves you, they’ll show up for you.
LESSON THREE: STANDING YOUR GROUND
Do not let anyone tell you your dreams are invalid, that your experiences aren’t relevant, or that your feelings aren’t real. Don’t let anyone tell you that where you’re from makes you less intelligent or less deserving. Never let anyone or anything get in between you and your goals.
If you believe in something, stand up for it. If you love something, love it fearlessly. Who you are, what you do, and what you believe are yours. Never let someone put you down for your career, your faith, your passions, your friends, your major, your plans… your life is uniquely yours and not for anyone else to judge.
LESSON FOUR: SPEAKING UP
Be the change you want to see. Staying quiet and going through the motions won’t get you noticed, doing the things you’re told even though you feel an injustice towards yourself or others gives no rewards. Say something. If no one listens, say it louder. Stand up. Protest. Write. Speak. Your actions and words are louder than you know.
LESSON FIVE: LOSS
Losing loved ones is one of the hardest parts of life. There is no way to dull the pain, there will always be an empty part of your heart. You will always have someone close to you with a piece of their soul missing because of a loss too great to bear. It will hurt every day. Some days it hurts less, some days it’s crippling, but the pain never goes away. We just learn to live with it.
We learn to see how much good they did for us and how much they left us with. We learn to hear their favorite songs with a sad smile, or we learn how to change the radio station at record speeds. We change our route home, so we don’t have to drive past their house. We move on, and we adapt. It never gets better. That’s okay.
LESSON SIX: GIFTS
We are often given gifts we don’t know how to receive: help from a friend, help from a stranger, a new chance at love. When the universe gives you something, accept it with a grateful heart and an open mind. We cannot plan for all things, and sometimes the thing you need most is the one thing you’re afraid to take.
LESSON SEVEN: THE GRINCH
Be angry, be frustrated, mourn and feel heartbroken if you need to this holiday season. You are no less of a joyful person for continuing to stay grounded during a time of silly songs and elbow-throwing shoppers. You are no less of a Christian, Jew, or Pagan for spending this Christmas/Hannukah/Yule mourning the losses of millions of people this year instead of celebrating miracles. You are allowed to be angered by “Christmas spirit” videos on Facebook depicting people using their money out of “goodwill.”
Your negative feelings during the holidays are more human than you know. Not buying into the commercialized Christmas doesn’t make you a Grinch or a Scrooge, and enjoying tacky Christmas sweaters and carols doesn’t make you stupid. This is a profoundly emotional season, and you are allowed to experience it in your own way.
Be kind to yourself, stay hydrated, and allow yourself a peaceful end to 2018.