At the end of every year, I always find myself asking: “What exactly did I accomplish this year?” and “How was this year any different from the last?”
Is this normal? Are we supposed to sit back and reflect on our yearly growth? That’s, of course, assuming that we did, in fact, grow from year to year. There are so many times throughout the year that I find myself falling into destructive patterns, and it’s not until I get some distance that I can actually see these patterns.
For as long as I can remember, I seem to be drawn to some form of drama. 2013 began with family drama, and in some weird full circle twist, ended with a bit of the same family drama. There were issues with friends, good friends, this year, but luckily, for the most part, everything seems to have worked itself out.
Except I tend to carry hurt with me from year to year, telling myself that I’m leaving everything in the past; I need to learn how to move forward, truly move forward, and let go of pain, hurt, and negative feelings and live genuinely in the moment. I spend too much time focusing on the past.
I’ve also spent a lot of 2013 trying too hard with people that I know I should let go of for my own sanity. I’ve let go of a lot over the past year, but I’m still confronted with a lot of lingering negativity and the nagging feeling that history just keeps repeating itself.
Is history destined to keep repeating? Will we ever genuinely move forward?
In 2007, I made the mental decision to shed my former self; in fact, I shed 70 pounds of that former self. In the six, almost seven, years since, I’ve struggled in maintaining that weight. Over the last two years, since I started teaching in January of 2012, I have put on so much weight that I no longer physically recognize myself.
It began when I no longer had the spare time to go to the gym. When I started teaching, I spent every spare moment grading papers or planning new lessons, and my health took a backseat. Actually, it wasn’t even in the backseat, I threw that shit out of the car window as I drove 100 miles per hour toward Losingmysanityville, which is on the outskirts of Exhausted City in between Unhappiness Town and TakeYourWorkHomeWithYou Centre.
It became easier to eat in bed than to go the gym.
I chose relaxation and “comfort” over health.
Now I can’t even look at myself in the mirror without hating myself.
It’s become a vicious cycle, one that I’m not quite sure how to end.
I have come to the understanding I go through a series of “I CAN CHANGE” moments throughout the year. I spend a lot of time “bargaining” with whatever higher power exists that if I can just accept all of my faults that I can stop my bad habits and become a better, healthier Steven.
If I can just let go of certain feelings, certain friendships, I can move forward.
If I can just start eating healthy again, I’ll feel better about myself.
If God wanted me to be healthy, mentally and physically, he would allow me to be.
I’ll give anything to go back in time and be the person I once was, where little “fights” might’ve been the end of the world, but they weren’t the end of a friendship. I’d give anything to have enough willpower to resist food. I’d love to have the strength and resolve to head back to the gym five times a week, like I was doing a few years ago.
I wish I could change.
I’m not good enough to change.
I’m not good enough for anybody.
I’m too lost to change.
I’ve let Steve, the love of my life, down. I’ve lost sight of who I was because I was too focused trying to build a career. Is that what happens when you try to build a career? I put so much effort into teaching, I put my students first, above myself and my health and, as a result, I forgot about myself. Steve constantly tells me that he doesn’t care about the weight I’ve put on; he just wants me to live forever. But I can’t help but feel like I’ve gotten myself so far into this rut that I can’t pull myself out. I’ve dug a hole too deep to crawl out of.
The funny thing is that I knew when I started teaching that my courses would shift from semester-to-semester and that my job is not secure. No matter how I’ve cemented myself and my reputation on the campuses I teach at, my job is not, would never be, secure. I’ve put everything I have into creating and perfecting my courses, connecting with my students, building a notable presence on each of the campuses I’m at, only to be told that there aren’t enough courses available for the spring.
I’m without full time work for the spring now. Unless enrollment increases exponentially, I’m without a substantial job. It doesn’t matter how great my reputation is, how hard I’ve worked, how much my students love me. What matters now is that the foundation I’ve built has all but crumbled and now I’m not only without a job, but I’m without my health, and many of my friendships feel like they’re slipping from my fingers…
Only I have the power to stop dwelling over things that I cannot change, and change what I can.
Looking back over the last year, there were so many positive changes in my life. Steve and I finally moved in together and it’s been the best year of our relationship; we’ve grown exponentially together and we have found something that I wouldn’t change or trade in for anything.
At the end of 2012, I had a young adult manuscript that I didn’t want to edit anymore, despite recognizing that there were too many fatal flaws that didn’t make it work. I was stuck. I had an idea for a new YA project, but every time I started it, I would get stuck and stop a page or two in.
Now, one year later, I have a completed YA manuscript that I spent the second half of the year querying; I have two agents that are reading it, one of which is working with me on an editorial level. I also completed that YA project that I couldn’t quite start on December 22nd, beating my goal of finishing a first draft by the end of the year by 9 days. I participated in NaNoWriMo and not only did I complete my goal, I kicked it’s ass.
Putting these accomplishments into words, it seems like less than it actually is; in actuality, this is all HUGE!
I’ve made some amazing new friends this year, and, really, nothing is as bad as I’ve made it out to be.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the problem. Maybe I’m overthinking everything?
I hate the word “resolutions.” Maybe it’s the stigma it carries: everybody makes these “New Years Resolutions,” but nobody actually sticks to them. Maybe for a month or so, but once January ends, resolutions become nothing more than Ideas of Holiday’s Past.
I don’t want to make resolutions. I want to have intentions.
- I intend on letting go of negativity.
- I intend to not focus on the bad, but rather all of the good that surrounds me on a daily basis.
- I intend to forgive and leave all bad feelings in 2013.
- I intend to live life more positively.
- I intend to get my health back on track; I only have one life, and I must live it fully. That means being healthy again. But it’s not just about resolving to go to the gym…it’s about committing my life to myself, to Steve, to live a longer life and fulfill my dreams.
- I intend on writing as much as possible: Now that my YA novel is out among the Land of Literary Agents, I intend on editing the second full YA manuscript and committing as much time as I can spare to whipping it into shape. My goal is to have this new manuscript edited into a second draft by the end of March. I also intend on starting research for my 3rd YA manuscript this week and finishing a first draft by the end of 2014. I have a 4th YA idea, a sic-fi/fantasy adventure, in mind and I’d like to explore possibilities for that this year as well.
- I intend on focusing on getting a literary agent and selling my work.
- I intend to cultivate a better relationship with my boyfriend and begin to plan our future together; there is so much ahead of us, for both of us, and this is only the beginning.
- I intend to be a better boyfriend, friend, brother, son, nephew, cousin, employee.
- I intend on putting myself first this year; I will not let anyone or anything detour me from my goals.
I have the power to change.
I have the will for change.
I have the freedom to let change happen.
cannot will not live in the past.
This year has changed me. In small ways, in large ways, I am different, better, or at least, I know that I can be better.
And that’s all I can really ask for…