I wasn’t going to write a ‘Happy New Year!’ blog post. In fact, I finally have the promised Berlin series all lined up and ready to publish :) But I spent some time this evening talking to my mom about resolutions, and now, here I am at midnight, clicking away in the dark, inspired to share some big dreams and stupid regrets.
So let’s kick this post off by saying, holy guacamole, 2015 was awesome. And not for any of the reasons I expected it to be. This year has been perception-shifting. Let’s reflect on my New Year’s post from this time last year . . .
I’m so bad at dreams. To have dreams is to put your faith and heart into something that you know might not come true. I’ve absolutely given up on dreams – on trusting what I want to future to be. – Jan 4th, 2015
Reading this quote makes me choke with sadness. It’s true, 2014 was a hard year for me. Many of my dreams turned out to be illusions. And so I went into 2015 mildly content, but without expectations, hardened, and void of hope.
But my heart is so big, and when I close my eyes it wanders. Around the world. Into the depths of others. And to restrict that – to chain your heart down or let it wander hopelessly so it will not be hurt or disillusioned again is a lonely coping mechanism.
Yes, I spent a large portion of 2015 living in the moment. I made many decisions without contemplating the consequences. I was indeed bold, and I did not get hurt. But my actions were hardly courageous.
My resolution last year was to live without fear. And perhaps one way to live without fear is to let go of expectations. If you are indifferent to the outcome, your decisions will be fearless, because you are detached from any consequences. But that’s not the kind of fearless I now want to be. Perhaps I do not even want to be fearless.
I want to be courageous. I want to dream. I want to have faith in myself, because I am a strong and competent woman, with the friends, the family, and the self-worth to make my dreams come true, no matter how fucking hard that is.
I am not nonchalant, I am a fighter. And at one point in 2015, I remembered that. I had let go of everything – hope, dreams of the future, and was simply floating – and in doing so, I discovered who I was. I am a person who can encounter failure and learn. I may hurt from the past, but I will never, ever again bury it again. The past is part of who I am. And that takes a monumental amount of courage to accept. And although the future might not be the one I had planned, that too will be who I am, whether I aim to shape it or not. So I might as well dream big, work hard, and never, ever give up hope. That is courage, that is fearless.
This time last year I had zero dreams. But over the course of 2015, two things happened.
In May, my mom came to visit, and we watched Cinderella. Half way through the fantastical tale, it occurred to me that I used to watch Disney movies every single day. . . . up until I was around 18 years old (a somewhat embarrassing confession). Why? Because I love singing. I adore imagination. I believe in happy endings (not the Thai massage parlor kind). I had always believed in fairy tales, but somehow forgot this along the way. And so I decided that evening, that although the world might not be one, I could still be my own fairy tale.
In July, I was laying by a lake with two close friends, watching the clouds. We were listening to music, pointing out lamas and baby dragons in the sky. And out of nowhere I suddenly blurted, “I hate my job.” Maybe hate was a strong word. There were parts of the job I adored – people I admired and common goals I felt passionate about. But I used to smile and laugh at work – a lot. I didn’t mind the long hours because I loved the environment, the beliefs, and the people. But somehow over time that shifted, and I found myself doing something I didn’t love. I felt trapped, and scared to leave, because although I was unhappy, I didn’t know what I would do or where I would go next.
Then, in late summer, something brilliant happened. I got let go from my job. As I had a permanent contract, I received a good amount of severance pay (thank you Dutch law) and decided to forget about work for a few months. I slept in, woke up when my body was no longer tired, started running, got back into bikram yoga, created art, took photos for no one but myself, started journaling, ran errands for friends, decorated my house, traveled, had lunch with non-working pals, stayed out too late, threw dinner parties, babysat, read books, hosted guests, and enjoyed life. I was completely free. I was not dating anyone. I had no job. And I was financially secure. I could do anything, go anywhere.
And that’s when I realized what I wanted to do. It wasn’t a job or a dream, but rather a way of life. I simply wanted to continue being a happy, healthy me. And so I thought about what this meant.
It meant traveling. It meant staying in Amsterdam, where I have an amazing and eclectic bunch of friends. It meant binding my passions and my career. It meant buying an apartment, running a half-marathon, and photographing the world.
Instead of being indifferent to the future, I examined my happiest self (who took a few gentle nudges to discover), and slowly worked towards building the ideal life for her. And now, she has dreams. She has plans. She has resolutions. And of course, the future :)
She also starts her new job tomorrow, so she must be off to bed!
Happy new year friends. Happy 2016.