The New Years is a time when people reflect and plan. It’s a time when people re-evaluate themselves and their priorities. Some even go as far as reinventing themselves.
Tonight at midnight, our social media feeds will be grossly flooded with “NEW YEAR, NEW ME” posts as this is the only day that has the power to seamlessly mark the old and the new.
What a lot pressure, don’t you think?
Don’t get me wrong. I totally love the idea of a fresh start. Who doesn’t? I love back reading through my journal and text messages- looking for thematic, habitual patterns in my thoughts, actions and choices. I love the struggle I go through this time of every year to find the right word to epitomize the year that had gone and the year ahead. I love the magic of New Year traditions that makes us feel invincible, the hope and belief that we will be better people, the renewing energy it gives that makes us believe we can simply whisk away the old and ring in the new.
But, New Year’s resolutions never actually stick- not for most, at least. It’s an ugly truth we shrug off our shoulders because we are all caught up in the celebrations, fireworks, food and kisses. And while I am a big believer of cycles and routines, I do not think our actions and everyday choices can always conform to the constraints of the calendar.
Our lives, I believe, exist on a continuum. We don’t get a lot of long stops or clean slates inserted at regular intervals all the time. Life is nothing close to neat and predictable. It, in fact, is full of surprises.
With this realization, I am trying out a different approach to welcoming this New Year.
Through the past years, I have practiced devaluing the past so I could enjoy the benefit of a presumably better future. I, like many of you, have been a believer of the “NEW YEAR, NEW ME” mantra. I used to always trash the past year, thinking I could do so much better the next year without looking back on the year that had gone.
I get it. We all have different personal challenges and experiences throughout the year, and it is only natural that many of us would be more than ready and willing to walk away and slam the door on the last 365 days. But I think that’s exactly where the problem lies. Most of us walk away with a nary glance on the past year. Perhaps, it is finally time we face the ghosts of our pasts. Perhaps, it’s worth a few moments to ponder what the year has taught you- for better of for worse.
While I can proudly say that 2017 was generally a great year for me, there were, of course, unfortunate events and personal upheavals I was faced with. I’ve gone through break ups, lost clients, stopped painting, and produced uninspired writings. While all of these happenings contributed to a general sense of sustained stress and tensions, they were fairly minor to what happened to me just 13 days before Christmas.
For the first time in my life, I had been under major operation. That short but remarkably painful period of my life made me realize a lot of things. I guess that’s what happens when you know any second now, you can die- in excruciating pain, and could literally feel your body slowly giving up on you, in a place where you know nobody- without family and friends, or even familiar faces to remember.
One minute I felt like I was invincible, and next thing I know, I felt like I was literally slowly dying. It was like a 360-degree about face of emotional rollercoaster that unbridled a flood of self-pity, doubts, fears and anxiety.
While the details are immaterial now, I think it is a pivotal part of how I am taking things now.
As the days passed, I found my spirits not only recovering, but gleeing. I had not realize how much the unpleasant experience made me realize how much I love my family, my best friend, this man I met and his kid. (No matter how people, just like things, can sometimes be possibly fleeting and temporary.)
It was too much emotion that I can literally still feel in my bones and recall the exact same emotions and the only prayer I had the night it happened. It was that I wake up the next morning to see them again.
Ultimately, this hostile but life changing experience proved to me, that in real life, regardless how cliche it may sound- time, love and health are more valuable than any amount of pay check. That even if you offer me a million bucks that night to die, I would deny and choose one more day to live for my loved ones.
This is the reason why instead of slamming the door on 2017, I will still happily look back on this past year. I am still as excited as you all are for the new year, but I am now more confident than ever before that I will be better off in 2018 if I can build on what I learned and realized in 2017.
Just the same, I no longer feel the need to reinvent myself come this New Year. I am not a series of different versions. There is no Chesy 2017 or Chesy 2018. There’s just me. What I was and what I’ve done in the year that has passed are not any less valuable than what I am going to be or going to do in the years to come.
It’s all part of one life.
I will still push myself to learn, to grow, & to be forgiving. I will continue improving my craft, increase my chances of success and make use of my potentials.
Most importantly, I will always try to remember that I am not broken, or half baked.
I am whole, strong and true.
It is this genuine sense of willingness to embrace the bad with the good, the joys with the tragic that allow us to appreciate the beautiful imperfections of all of our experiences so we can tell stories that matters most to us.
If I got here- in this exact state of mind right now, you can too.
Happy New Year, loves!
IT IS ON. Again.