The 1st of January has rolled around once more, and once more we hit the proverbial refresh button on our lives. It’s kind of insane that it takes one completely arbitrary date for most of us to feel like we can wash the stains of one year from our skin and begin afresh, but I’m so guilty of doing just that. I’ve been wanting to re-start my health regime for months, but naturally I’ve been waiting around for the 1st to actually do it – because it only counts if it’s a New Year’s Resolution, duh. (I should mention that in the interim I’ve been indulgently sampling life’s myriad offerings of Christmas-themed treats and drinking enough alcohol to singlehandedly justify Prohibition. Perhaps I’m just trying to give my Resolution more bang for its buck… or perhaps I’m just a gluttonous fool. WHO KNOWS?)
As is practice at this time of year, I’ve been talking to friends lately about the ticking over of the year; about the highs and lows of 2012, my hopes for the year ahead, and so on. I was just telling a friend yesterday about my tendency to spiral into an emotional meltdown of sorts on NYE. It’s true – after the fireworks have finally subsided and I’ve recovered from my mindblowing New Year’s kiss (the one that only happens in my imagination but GOD is it amazing in there), I usually have a moment or two where I take time to myself to reflect on what the year has meant to me, and what I took from it. I suppose it’s a personal ritual of sorts, where I allow myself one final analysis of all the rights/wrongs I’ve committed, what moments I found poignant and what the resounding lessons of the year were before consciously “letting go” – giving it all back to the universe, wiping the slate clean and starting anew.
I’m still yet to decide whether this practice soothes my soul or makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. I think it teeters between the two, because really, what is a day? Does the date actually mean anything, or would we be better off picturing our lives on one perpetual, single continuum, rather than measuring it by years that clock over with mechanical precision, offering new chances every 12 months? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a little crazy, but it’s also really refreshing to tell myself that all the burdens of last year are – in a small, very abstract way – gone, now.
I remember last year; I welcomed January 1, 2012 with a few people I did know and a few people I did not know, in a small apartment by the beach. I wore my favourite boxer briefs, the ones with the American flag on them. My two best friends and I found chicken satay in the host’s oven and ate it with our hands until we were tersely lectured on the existence of the fork. We watched the fireworks from the beach with a really awkward group of men who would not look at us. None of us had New Year’s kisses. I went home and cried a little bit because the year was gone. The year was gone and it had been so beautiful and so terrible; I had returned from New York, perhaps never to return (at least to live); I had lost excessive weight that I had been carrying for as long as I remembered, and thusly changed my life. I had met people who had further changed me. Everything was very unsure but very hopeful. I acknowledged my hang-ups, gave my thank-you’s to the universe and tried to begin again.
I need to repeat this ritual now. It’s unusual for me to do this post-NYE, but I couldn’t find the time in the wee hours of this morning. (NB: This was because I actually had a great time last night, which is so extremely rare on NYE. Also my body did not violently reject all that tequila, sooo I’ve pretty much had the best possible omens for 2013.) It’s also extremely unorthodox to do it in a public forum, but I get a (potentially sick, maybe just creepy) kind of pleasure from hearing other people summarize their year for me, so perhaps somebody, somewhere, will enjoy my ruminations.
2012 In Review
You know that Rolling Stones song that’s like,”You can’t always get what you waaant… But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you neeeed!” okay I literally think this song could be my 2012 anthem which is kind of weird because I always thought it was a good song with pretty dumb lyrics. But I think I finally get it. The first thing last year taught me was that, unfortunately, you can’t always get what you want. This was a really difficult lesson for me to learn. It always is, isn’t it? And it’s a lesson that we must learn over and over again in life. When I think about all the ways that I have learned this lesson, I picture the movie Groundhog Day, except that Bill Murray rarely features in my life and it’s considerably less funny. I think 2012 blindsided me when it reminded me that, no matter who you are or what you do or how hard you try, sometimes you just cannot have what you want. Be it a job, an item, something intangible – even the affections of another person – sometimes we must reconcile ourselves with the fact that we do not control everything, and this is hard. It sucks, and it’s really hard, and there’s not much to say for it… it’s like what you say when somebody breaks their nose and the damage is irreversible and you’re trying to console them: “It builds character.”
But the year also taught me that if you try – if you make the right movements and have the right motivations and focus on being open – you might just get exactly what you need. I think the hardest part is often distinguishing between what it is that we want and what we need. Because, let’s face it, they’re not always the same thing. For some of us, they rarely are. In 2012, I had a short list of needs: new friends, a new perspective, a green card. No big deal, right? I think I actually got everything I needed last year, without necessarily attaining everything I wanted.
The valuable lesson in 2012, for me, was that – and I realise how much this sounds like hokey bullshit, but I really have no choice but to believe – if you focus on opening doors for yourself at every opportunity, and if you let the universe know what it is that you need, you will get it. I’m really shitty at math (seriously like when I was a checkout chick and somebody would change their money after I’d put it into the computer it was the absolute end of the road for me) so I can’t even calculate the odds of winning the Green Card Lottery, but I’m going to guess they aren’t great. I made a sign that said I WILL WIN THE GREEN CARD ON MAY 1ST 2012 and I stuck it on the wall opposite my bed. I saw it every morning. I organised a party a month before the lottery was drawn. I told everyone to dress up, and their response was, “But what if you don’t win?” And I told them I would win. I had everyone I saw put out positive vibes to the universe. Superstitious crap? Probably. But if the universe ever knew anything, it knew that I needed that. And now I have it.
I learnt about this on a smaller scale, too. 2012 was a year that I devoted to meeting new people. Growing up in an insular society with a wonderful, solid base of friends that has remained largely the same since high school was both a blessing and a curse. I developed almost no people-meeting skills and moving to New York was a crash course in making new friends. It took me a long time to overcome the awkwardness and discomfort of navigating unfamiliar social situations, so last year I made a pact to work on this so that it would be less confronting in future. I went on dates with strangers and rarely said no to an invite, even if I felt a little nervous about it. As a result, I made handfuls of new friends and built on my self-confidence in so many ways. If I am ever to look back on 2012 fondly, it will be for the people that I met, some of who have changed my life in very profound ways.
And that was how I gained my new perspective. To me, there are not many things more valuable in this life than meeting somebody new and connecting with them. To find a point of similarity with a person who didn’t even exist to you 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 weeks ago is amazing and is always the biggest reminder to me that everything will be okay. There were days in 2012 when I felt like nothing was right, but then I met a boy who shares my love for white wine and discussing existentialism, and a girl who shares my love for Einstein and the solar system and another girl whose stories have me in fits of laughter and another girl whose own story has taught me that sometimes wonderful things are happening to you even when it feels as though you’re dying. And the thought that there was a time when I didn’t know these people, and then 30 seconds later I did – this is the most beautiful and the most reassuring piece of knowledge I hold. This is why I know it will be okay. This is what I learned in 2012.
And so I give it all back to the universe, now: the 300 bottles of wine; the sunset over Byron Bay; the time I got stranded in the Dallas airport and sobbed until my parents wired me money, resulting in me smiling in a robe with room service; the half-assed uni assignments; the excessive time spent at Elk where I now know all staff by name; the drunken injuries; the moments of clarity, like when I realised I still love writing; the reaffirming moments, like the time that person looked me in the eye and made me promise I’ll do something important with my life, and the person who told me that I taught them it is okay to be different; all the ice cream that I wish I hadn’t consumed; the hours of Sex and The City which saved my life; the unbelievable blessing of receiving everything I needed.
I give it all back and I start again.
Hi, 2013. Please be gentle.
Actually scrap that, gentle is for pussies. Just be interesting.