Less than a week ago, the majority of America turned their TVs to ABC and watched a 12 foot sphere covered in crystals fall in the middle of New York City to ring in a new year. We held champagne – or sparking cider – in one hand, counting backwards until we got to 0…and in this case, 2016. We kissed the one we love – or our dog, cause we love our dogs too – and we started making a mental list of new years resolutions that we may or may not hold ourselves to. We made stupid jokes about how we “haven’t showered since last year!” and we go to bed with a smile on our face, convincing ourselves that this year is going to be “our year.”
These actions are nothing new. Every time January 1st rolls around, we find ourselves in a very similar “new beginning” mindset, without really even seeming to know what we are leaving behind and what we are beginning. We suddenly become unsatisfied with the life we have been leading, and decide that today is the day to do better in classes, to exercise, to save money, to get more sleep. One midnight hit, and now we do not see our lives as good enough. Sure, I could probably use some trips to the gym, more money in my wallet to pay for my daily trips to the coffee shop downtown, and a couple extra hours curled up in bed because someone told me going to sleep at 4 am is not normal. But without these things, this year ahead of me is still going to be just as special.
New years are not meant to create a new you. I suppose you could use a new year as a new chance to live your life in a new way, but you should never convince yourself that your life wasn’t enough before. Truthfully, the start of January 1 is just the start of a new day. If you ever want to start a new chapter in your life, you do not have to wait for twelve months to pass. If you wake up on August 29 and decide you want to live your life differently, do it. If you wake up on October 2 and find yourself on an unexpected path, say yes. Change doesn’t just have to happen right now. A new year just means a whole lot of opportunities for change, whenever and whatever they may be.
New years are meant to reflect on the last 365 days of your life, and to let yourself be hopeful that the next 365 – or 366, in this year’s case – will have more in store for you than ever before. The start of a new year is not meant to say “screw last year,” but to look ahead to all the new journeys that will take place before we put the cheesy paper hats back on our heads and repeat these celebrations in 52 weeks.
I’m the first to say that 2015 was a terrible year. I found myself in lower valleys than ever before, and questioning everything, big and small, that seemed to come in front of me. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I found myself in an academic program that I did not want a career in. People walked into my life, and people walked out of my life. But 2015 was also a beautiful year. I traveled out west for the first time. I dropped my concentration and added a new one that I feel very passionate about. I fell in love with a boy. I found a new career path. And it is because of all of these moments that I know my 2016 does not have to be a different me, it just needs to be full a lot of new and different adventures. My 2016 is not here to remind me of everything I may feel inadequate about. My 2016 is going to take those things that made 2015 beautiful and make this year better.
This year, I graduate college. I graduate from the best college in the world and I get to graduate with a degree in something I’m passionate about. This year, I turn 23, which is an age that just screams “the real world,” but maybe by my birthday, I will be living in the real world. And if 2016 turns out the way it started, it’ll be a good year. I rang in the new year with that very boy I fell in love with. I applied for a big girl job. I saw Jesus in a sunset over the bay with my best friend. I made a huge, unexpected, life decision that I’m confident was the right one for me. But most of all, when the clock struck midnight and the lights in NYC blinked “2016,” I did not say to myself “this is what I need to do better this year.” Instead, I said to myself, “Emily, a lot is going to happen and change this year, but it is going to be even better than you could ever imagine.”
| 365 little pieces of paper, 1 for every day of 2015 – full of something each day that brought me joy |