The new year is always a weird time for me. For most people, it marks a time for new beginnings and self analysis. It marks a time for change, for you to look back at all the things that stick in your memory from the previous year while inspiring you to create a game plan to avoid repeating these mistakes. After all, as George Washington once said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” And while all these things are also true to me, I see January 1st approaching on my calendar and all I can think of is New Years Eve of my senior year of high school when everything came to a crashing halt.
I’d had an amazing night. The extended family gathered at my aunt’s house, as we did every single year, including those who weren’t technically family but still seem to be at every family function. We played Catchphrase, and Mario Kart, ran around in the snow, and my cousins and I all found something to yell at each other about. It was awesome, I enjoyed it all. When midnight came around, my parents finally let me toast with champagne and then we lit fireworks. My cousin decided to take it over that year and only nearly died once.
On the 30 minute drive home, I sat in the back and found myself staring at the stars. Despite being 19, every time I look up at the sky and see a star I immediately chant that wish in my head, “Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight, wish I may, wish I might, have the wish, I wish tonight.” So without hesitation, I recited this in my head as I stared up at the sky. And then when it came to the wishing part, I drew a blank. All I could think was one thing: Another year, another year in which I continue self-destructing. I thought about wishing for all the horrible things to go away, but I couldn’t live with them and I couldn’t live without them. New Years was supposed to bring new opportunities and be inspiring, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was entering 2015 with fresh cuts on my arm as I wasted away on my diet of lettuce and alcohol. All I wanted was happiness and I couldn’t convince myself I would be any happier without these in my life. And I sat there and I asked myself if that was rock bottom, because when I looked around I couldn’t see anywhere else to fall. I had never felt so terrified.
Today, two days away from the start of 2017, I’m amazed by the steps I have taken and the strength I have unapologetically thrust into my life. I have gone through more treatment programs than I can name, sifted through numerous medications only to realize I’m better off without any, and fallen off the wagon just to climb back on. I entered 2016 without a map or a to-do list because I was still confused, slightly static, and too scared to think of the long term for more than a few minutes. And while 2016 has been one of my rougher years, it was also by far the most self-validating year I have ever had. Some days this whole recovery thing seems too scary and unrealistic. Some days all I want is to run back to what broke me or the coping mechanisms I used to deal with/avoid that. Some days, my scars seem too loud or my vulnerability too forced. But then I look in the mirror and I see the authenticity to my life that I am too afraid to give up. I remember that, despite the bad days, I am not ashamed of how I survived.
So I decided I needed a map, a to-do list, to keep this good in my life. I needed a to-do list that would provide me with the best chance I could possibly have to avoid just surviving, but also expand the good in ways I can’t possibly know now.
This is my map for 2017:
- Strengthen my relationship with my faith and God
- Live authentically and aware of my choices and actions. Be present.
- Be vegetarian for one year. You’ve given yourself enough guilt trips and made yourself lose your appetite enough, it’s time to listen.
- Just stop eating those things you’re allergic to that make you so sick. Yummy is not a good enough reason to be in pain.
- Work out 5x a week
- Write for 30 minutes every day
- Watch more TV throughout the school term (within reason, this is too much of a self-care act for you to put it off as much as you do)
- Attend the on campus Film group every week
- Complete at least three film projects for your portfolio
- Volunteer with the Women’s Resource Center on campus. It’s an amazing and unique resource that helped you unwaveringly during your own time of need, it is time to pay it forward and make sure others receive what you were lucky enough to have received.
- Learn more and become more politically aware.
- Slow. Down.
It’s a lot, I know (hence the need for #12), but it’s what I need this year. Ultimately, this year will not be better if I don’t take personal responsibility and lay out the proper foundation. With this list, I am choosing a more positive year filled with self growth and prioritization.
What is on your map for 2017?