“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.