2016, you were fantastic. And you were awful. And during it, I was proud of myself. And ashamed of myself. And happy with things. And sad about things. But just like all other years before this one, life is a cracked mosaic of good and bad, beautiful and ugly, happy and sad. And so am I. That’s what makes life unpredictable and wonderful. That’s what sometimes makes me even more so. Unpredictable, I mean. But as a writer, I’ll take the tears and laughter and despair and joy if it means I’ll be able to really feel things. I thrive on the ability to feel deeply. It’s the mundane that I can’t handle. It’s the mundane that slowly kills my spirit.
2016, you were not mundane, not by a long stretch.
You changed me. You made me stronger. You made me smarter. You made me more cautious. You made me more reflective. You made me vulnerable in ways I hadn’t experienced before. And you taught me things.
- You taught me that I can function on lots of caffeine and very little sleep, sometimes for days on end. On a deadline. Not on a deadline. When I’m emotional. When I’m excited. When I’m happy or sad. Sleep used to come easy and long for me. Now it’s a hard-fought battle, but the restless nights are usually worth it.
- You taught me that I can write three books simultaneously, even though that’s always seemed impossible to me in the past. And storylines don’t get mixed up. And plots don’t overlap each other. And I hope to never do it again, but at least now I know I’m capable of it.
- You taught me that one of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to help people. I already knew this about myself, but I didn’t know how much I thrive on promoting people as well…on introducing the world to new writers both young and old. I get excited about answering questions and sharing a love of words with others and seeing excitement grow as the conversation goes on. I discovered a newfound love of conversations with strangers…of making new friends over social media…of giving support to young girls who dream of a future in writing—the kind of support I wish I’d had during my teenage years.
- You taught me that I love hard. Sometimes too hard. Sometimes to the point that I crush my own heart with my own two hands and stand by myself as I watch it bleed. You taught me that I worry a lot about disappointing people. That I panic at the thought of losing people. That I get terrified at the thought of people who once loved me changing that emotion into hate. That I spend way too much time worrying about things I can’t control. That a heart might bleed but it will always repair itself. That a little pain isn’t the end of the world—that never feeling anything at all is a million times worse.
- You taught me that friendship is based on mutual respect and well-wishing and loyalty and a determination to believe the best in all circumstances. And then at some moments you demanded I believe the best when I wanted to cave to the worst. You taught me that caving is rarely an option…that friends deserve more from me, and that I need to step up. I always need to step up.
- You taught me that I can run my mouth too much if my guard slips. That I can say unkind things and jump to wrong conclusions and then have a very real need for forgiveness. That I can be petty and stupid and consequently disappoint myself. And that I can start over. And you taught me that starting over is always the best part.
- You taught me that social media often drains me. That I have a love/hate for it in almost the same way I have a love/hate with exercise. So usually I don’t bother with exercise. But I have to bother with social media or I’ll get in trouble. But I need breaks. Definite breaks. I took a long one in May. I think it’s almost time for another.
- You taught me that the best days of my year happened in April and November, and that sometimes we need the memory of those best days to carry us through the others. You taught me that the worst days of my year happened in July and September, and that I needed to dismiss those memories and focus on the good. So I did.
- You taught me when to apologize, and not to do it until I mean it. To quit saying sorry for everything to the point that the effectiveness wears off, but to save it for when I really screw up. Which was often. Really really often.
- You taught me to smile in all circumstances, even through the tears. Because life is short and time precious and one shouldn’t be too focused on all the things going wrong. A lot of things go wrong, but laughter and ability to smile can get me through almost anything.
- You taught me to say thank you. For my family. For old friends. For new friends. For conversation. For texts and notes. For my readers. For influencers and reviewers and for anyone who’s ever bought a book. No one owes me a thing. All I have depends on the generosity of others…other people who could choose to buy a gallon of milk instead of spending money on my book. So thank you for spending the money. Thank you for the support. I owe you my career. I can’t tell you how grateful that makes me.
- You taught me to sing. And to dance. And to hope—for a better tomorrow and a life of love. You taught me to care. And to cry. And to pick myself up and keep moving. You taught me to work. And to rest. And to do the latter a little more than I used to.
- You taught me to look forward…to stop glancing so often in the rearview mirror. So starting now and to the best of my ability, I’m looking in front of me. It’s a new year. I have new dreams. I have new hope. And I’m surrounded by people who love me. Life is good and bad, beautiful and ugly, happy and sad. Just the way it’s supposed to be.
What could be better than that?
May 2017 find you bold, kind, loving, forgiving of yourself and others, and may it give you something new to dream about.
Happy New Year.