Lessons of 2017

Skiier looking out over mountains in Breckenridge, CO.

It’s New Year’s Eve! Sparkly things! Fireworks! The promise of a clean slate and a brand-new year! The horrifying realization that I am a year older and not at all wiser!

In honor of the end of the year, I’ve compiled a list of lessons I’ve felt have been most prevalent in my own personal growth this year. Check them out below.

1. Just start.

This blog would not exist if I hadn’t finally stopped waffling and procrastinating and writing down lists of things to do and actually acted on those lists. Sitting down for an hour or two to purchase a domain name and create the damn thing was the most important item on any of those lists because it actually got me started, instead of just thinking about starting.

A lot of change and uncertainty comes with this next year, and I have to keep reminding myself that if I am too comfortable, I am not challenging myself enough.

If not now, when?

2. Participate.

A classic thing that I do is, immediately after telling someone I was a Government major in college, to follow that up with, “…but I hate politics.”

I mean, this is still true. But this year, I’ve found that it doesn’t really matter if I dislike politics or not – bad things happen all the time, the news cycle is an endless churning of people hurting other people, and not acknowledging that these things are happening beyond the typical, “Wow, that sucks” is a disservice to the people who suffer them.

Over the last few months, in particular, I have actively decided to “participate” more. I wrote a piece recently about the act of showing up, and I want to continue that thought process in 2018.

I am often the kind of person who has opinions but doesn’t share them outside of a few close friends, and part of my reasoning for that is valid (I’m not about to start posting essays on Facebook or getting into political and religious discussions with people I know tangentially in the new year.)

However.

After a year that, frankly, was a bit of a trash fire, even for those of us who are privileged and live relatively safe and comfortable lives, I feel the need to speak up a bit more. Writing on this blog and on Instagram is a big part of this process for me, and I want to continue to be as informed as I can stand, donate to causes I care about, talk about things that are hard to talk about, and generally show that I care more. Because sitting on the sidelines doesn’t help anybody.

Fun story: my freshman year of college was a presidential election year, and my family had recently moved to a swing state (Ohio.) Freshman me did not have her life together, and I found myself racing across campus to the post office after class on the day my absentee ballot had to be postmarked.

At 5:05pm, I arrived, panting and looking like a crazy person, outside the door of the post office, which was closed. Eager to participate in the electoral process (andgoddammit, I was going to vote in my first election), I waved frantically through the glass at a postal worker who appeared inside the small room.

Kindly, or possibly just resigning himself to being that person who helps out the poor-planning college student desperate to make her vote count, he opened the door and let me add my ballot to the batch of mail that was about to go out.

The moral here: I can’t always put sprinting-to-the-post-office-level energy into participating in life, but dangit if I won’t try.

3. Appreciate what you already have.

Sand Dollar Christmas Tree Ornament
The holidays always remind me how lucky I already am, but this should probably be a year-round revelation.

The last item on this list is pretty simple, and something I have to remind myself of often when I’m admiring other people’s aspirational travel photos, life events, career successes, etc. Those people are on their path, and you’re on yours. Appreciate what your path has given you and how it’s positioned you for the days you will face ahead.

Whatever your goals are for the year to come, I hope you have a healthy, safe, and crazy fun New Year’s (I’ll be watching the ball drop on the east coast from mountain time, so…) Here’s to going to bed at 10pm, and here’s to 2018 – its promises, its challenges, its rewards, and the growth that got us all here.