Twenty twenty, lead the way.

It’s been a while, a long long time. How are we?

We’re a month into 2020 but I can’t help reflecting on the year gone by. I think back to who I was last year and I see someone unsure and disconnected. I see someone lost for purpose. I walked into 2019 with the promise of change and growth, I often found myself in devastating lows. I found myself constatly wanting to “get there”, with no idea of where “there” was. Was it finding a job? Was it finding security in my relationship? Was it finding a permanent home? It was a bit of everything, layered in confusion and fear.

A year later, I see myself answering those questions and feeling renewed with a sense of purpose. 2019 may have started with a lot of questions but it ended with beautiful highs and in chasing joy. It was a year of lessons – for the mind, body and soul. It was a year that made me dig deep and wide, and explore myself in ways I didn’t think possible. It was a year that peeled my layers closer to the version of me I would like to be.

In 2019, I got real. I got real with my expectations of the world and those of me. I got real with what I was seeking. I got real with how to stand up for myself. More importantly, I got real with how to stand up to myself.

It is incredible to see how you can grow when you ride the wave instead of succumbing to fear. Whether that’s fear of change or failure, it’s equally stifling. Letting go of that fear is just as liberating. I found I was still cautious and worried and sometimes lost and lonely but it was incredible and exhilarating, to do the things that helped me grow. I allowed myself to be more open to experiences and people’s criticisms and compliments. And with me at the heart of these experiences, I found myself loving myself more. There was less judgement and more compassion. I found myself living with an open mind and an open heart – ready for love and oppourtunities. Opportunities to build lasting friendships, to learn new skills, to travel to new places, to let go of toxicity, to discover stories, to thrive.

Life felt ambiguous in the first half of the year. I was wrapping up my Master’s, hoping to get a job and just do the things you in your mid-to-late twenties. I was listing and scratching out goals and to-do lists. Some days, I would wake up just to get on with the day and move on the next. I felt isolated, like I didn’t belong – not here or there. I would send out job applications that were constantly met with rejections. I had calls that gave me hope that eventually led to nothing. I felt like I was disappointing people in my life by not checking off boxes and dreams. I started living for others more than I did for myself. It is so easy to go down that rabit hole where we’re held to a high standard that noone knows who sets. We’re expected to fit moulds and make people proud. How do you do that without making yourself proud?

I learned that people’s moral compasses were different, and that our values were a result of our generation, education and journeys. I learned to choose patience and love over my ego. I learned to not walk away from a conversation. I learned that no one perspective is right or wrong but that infact, we’re constantly evolving. I learned to be accepting of constant criticism because they didn’t know. They didn’t know the path I walked or the struggles I endured. They knew standards and expectations that were far from my reality. I prayed to stay strong and on course, to be true to myself without being disrespectful. I prayed to be good – to others and myself and to walk in the light of God.

I learned to be here in a getting there world. I embraced moments where my feet were planted and enjoyed every day life until it started to shift more positively. I got a job that I actually like, met people that have empowered me, read books that widen my horizons, I put in the hard work for love and got real with my expectations.

I turned my existential crisis into an existential celebration.

As it drew to an end and we turned to December, there was a shift. These last few months have been some of the best of my life so far. Despite feeling stuck at times, I found light in being vulnerable. I found resilience in rejections. I found strength in my faith and in the wake of hardships. I found lessons in experiences (the greatest teacher of all). I woke up and persevered with my responsibilites in the best way I knew. I wrote my heart out on a cover letter, I cried to my boyfriend, I fought it out with my mother, soaked my pillow in tears on numerous nights, I cursed myself and prayed to God. Finally, when the sun sets and you’re on your own, you owe it to yourself to give life your best shot. It is hard and you can and will fall short but you’ve got to try. If today’s my last day on earth, I want it to end knowing I tried. Your capabilites and potential are your responsibility and you’ve got to find a way to use that to make your world and the one we live in a better place.

2019 was truly rewarding. It was a life lesson in itself. It pushed me to test my limits. It taught me to be present. Whether that was in the kitchen, on a tractor, in the ER or at work. It truly was a personal year – a year of moving goalposts and challenging notions. A year of meaning and love.

I’ll leave you with this – Even after the darkest night, the sun will always rise again. It is not lost on me, the hardships around the world, the loss and the trauma, the fights people are fighting for us. It is not lost on me that even though we are our worst enemies, we’re also our greatest hope and I am holding onto that hope.

I am so excited for this in 2020 and life ahead. 2020, lead the way.

Photo by Se Nuno on Unsplash