Goodbye, 2016

“New Years” never really meant that much to me.  “My life is determined by school years, not by successions of January Firsts,” I used to say, and New Years Eve always fell awkwardly in the middle of a school year.

With college sliced into two distinct semesters, this may be the first time New Years actually indicates a transition for me.  Not only a transition to new classes, but a transition from a naive and exploratory first semester of college to a more focused and directional second.

At the same time, I’ve never experienced a year so sharply dichotomized.  I mean, the first half was the triumphant, pressure-free closure of my high school career.  In the second half, the doors of my little town burst open to Penn, to Philadelphia, to the world. 

What did I do well this year?  Well, I can’t brag much, because I feel like most of the positive changes came from my circumstances, not from me.  Like, I stopped missing people and the past like I was gonna die, but that is mostly due to the richness of my present.  I became more independent, but that is because I moved away from my family for college.  I did more adventurous, true-to-self activities because of that new independence, etc. etc.

Some things that were in my control: I filled pages of my journal like a maniac.  I posted a shit-ton on this blog in July and August.  In the first few weeks of college, I really put myself out there, talked to lots of people, and gathered friends, though it’s usually instinctive for me to keep to myself.  I urged myself to be bold and experimental — as a result, I have few “I wish I had done…” regrets.  I think I really benefited from that hustle.

I feel a lot different.  But other than the fact that I learned much, I doubt whether I actually changed significantly.  I only feel different because I know myself better.  As adulthood tossed me into this new life, in midair I clutched onto the core elements of myself and shed the characteristics that were merely the products of my previous society.  Once I landed in my fresh setting, I had to introduce and re-introduce myself to my new peers.  Each encounter basically consisted of a stranger staring me down and asking, “Who the fuck are you?”  I didn’t have my town there to speak for me.  I didn’t have my family there to speak for me. I didn’t even have my friends there to speak for me.  So I spoke for myself — after a hesitation, I tentatively replied, “Well, I think that this is me…”  and offered my best guess.   And from there, a colorful and distinct personality distilled from a fogginess that I once thought inscrutable.

It’s not all inner-peace and self-actualization.  Understanding oneself, unfortunately, also means seeing your flaws and shortcomings.  After this semester, I’m more aware of my insecurities, but I am still not sure how to overcome most of them.  I’m also sharply aware of what I don’t know, as college tends to do — mainly, I’m clueless about my future.  That may have been the scariest realization of my year.

So that’s what I want to achieve in 2017: Invest more time in finding direction for myself.  This will require (sigh) adult things, like…internships, networking, resume-building…I’m already cringing, but I know I gotta.

What else?  I want to study more efficiently.  I want a job.  I want to join more clubs.  I want to worry and talk about boys less.  I want to drink less-sugary beverages and eat more vegetables.  I want to raise my GPA.  I want to improve as a student, but I don’t want to change purely because of the pressure and inadequacy I recently feel among my peers.  Oh, I want to read more.

“Write more, too?”  Kind of awkward, because I’m trying to sort out how I feel about fiction writing at the moment (will elaborate in a later post).  However, if 2016 did anything, it reinforced how much writing saves me.  I need personal writing especially — the kind of stuff that I scrawl in my journals, the kind of stuff that I post on my blog.

The kind of stuff that you, dear reader, see.

You’ll see more of me in 2017.

Love,

-M.L.

See my 2016 in music

See my 2016 by month

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