I’ll put it bluntly: this year kind of sucked. It’s December 30, and I’m looking back at the last 365 days and, yeah, I’m seeing of a lot of happy, a lot of incredible, even, but I’m leaving 2016 defeated. I’m tired, I’m sad, I’m ready to spend 3-5 weeks in bed. I’m one of the lucky ones, too – my country didn’t elect a president who was against me. My right to life, to love, or to safety was not questioned or compromised. I had consistent and reliable access to clean water and healthy food, I had a job and a home and I was healthy. If I have a reason to feel defeated, then what about the rest of the planet?
On January 1, 2016, Kylie Jenner posted an iconic video welcoming the new year. She said that 2016 was the year of “like, realizing stuff.” And of course, as a collective we made fun of her because that’s a classic nonsense statement. But, looking back, I don’t know how else to describe this year. If 2016 was sucky, I at least learned more about myself and my life and my spirit than ever before and maybe I’m defeated but after 3-5 weeks in bed I’ll probably be more equipped to face another year.
This time last year I was in Mississauga with my boyfriend and a glass of champagne. I had half as much hair as I do right now but I was still wearing my go-to plain black dress and pulling the same face in every photo. I hadn’t learned about my options for placement, hadn’t written any letters or applied for any scholarships. I hadn’t started my favourite job ever at Bomber, ever involved the police in anything let alone a roommate conflict, and I certainly hadn’t moved continents by myself. I hadn’t done anything, really. I had no idea what was ahead of me.
Now I sit here, one year later, in an office on a tropical island, listening to my Sri Lankan colleagues gossip and laugh and I guess what I’m realizing now is that 2016 kind of sucked but that doesn’t mean I regret a single thing that happened to me over the last year. My heart was broken, but I learned how to put it back together. I spent a lot of time alone, but I learned how to love my own company. I did poorly in school, but I learned how to learn. My life got turned upside down more times than I can count and I learned how to be flexible and roll with the punches (well, I’m still kind of figuring that one out). I moved to Sri Lanka and that is surreal and incredible and I remind myself daily that I’m lucky, lucky, lucky. Everything I’ve done in the last four months has been a first, a once-in-a-lifetime, an incredible privilege. I reached the most extreme ends of my mental health this year. I was happy, stable, and grounded, taking good care of myself and my loved ones, bathing in the sunlight, and I have been so low I can’t even see the cracks where the light gets in. I have grown and stretched into a person I never imagined I’d become and I think I like myself better now.
This year, though, kind of sucked. But here we are, on the other side of it. We’re walking out of 2016 bruised and holding ourselves together with tape and glue and right now we may be defeated but I honestly believe we’re better for it. Another thing I’ve realized: it doesn’t really matter what I look like right now, how many bruises or bandaids I have because I’ve made it this far and that makes me a superhero. Even Superman gets hurt sometimes.
The upcoming year holds a lot of possibilities for me. I’ll spend the first four months of 2017 still in Sri Lanka, and then I’ll move to a new house and I’ll work and maybe in September I’ll move to BC and go to grad school. I’ll meet a lot of new people and experience this world in ways I can’t even predict yet. And I’ll be sad. And I’ll fight to get out of bed some days and I’ll eat only French Fries for a while and I’ll stay up all night watching a terrible movie and then sleep through something important the next day. I’ll climb a mountain or swim in the ocean or get really badly hurt or learn a new skill.
Unfortunately, a lot of my like, realizations this year were the rubbing sandpaper over an open wound kind and now I need time to heal. After a year of realizations I am ready for a year of healing and I’m going to jump on this before Kylie Jenner does and you can make t-shirts of my brilliant quote: 2017 is the year of like, recovery. A wise person once told me that sometimes you need to be completely broken before you can be put back together, and here I go facing a new year in pieces, ready for the next 365 days to shape me in exactly the way I need.
2016 wasn’t my year – it wasn’t anyone’s year. Still, I’m beyond grateful for all the experiences I had and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world, and I’m really, really glad I don’t have to live it again.
Happy new year, everyone. All my love across the ocean.
These are just a few of my favourite 2016 memories – the rays of light coming in through the cracks, the things that made this year not suck.