I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. On the one hand, you can look forward to all the exciting things the new year will hold. On the other hand, there's a temptation to look back on the previous year and, if you're like me, you often focus on the things you didn't do or accomplish or complete, the things you would change if you could. I stopped making New Year's resolutions a few years back because I found they don't usually last very long, but I do still make a few goals for each year.
One of my goals for 2014 is, once a year from now on out, to travel somewhere completely new. It could be a new country, a new state (though I only have eight of those left), or a new city. Wherever it is, every year, I want to experience something new about this amazing world we live in. I want to go to a new city or new country and learn what it is about that place that is so special, what it is about that place that makes the people who live there love it.
I brought up this goal in conversation with some friends of mine and one mentioned that she'd already been doing this for the last ten years or so. Out of curiosity, I decided to go back over the last several years and see how many times I'd been somewhere new.
After glancing briefly through photos on Facebook, I discovered I'd been somewhere new every year since 2006. The only year I couldn't confirm right off the bat was 2012. I could easily recount several trips I'd taken over the course of that calendar year and a lot of exciting things that had happened, but everywhere I'd traveled was somewhere I'd been before.
In an effort to determine if I actually had visited anywhere new in 2012, I scrolled back through my entire 2012 newsfeed, smiling and laughing at the pictures and posts from all the adventures I'd gone on throughout the year.
Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that the transition from 2012 to 2013 was a difficult one for me.
In January 2012, I started my first official romantic relationship. In October 2012, we broke up, and at the very beginning of January 2013, any chance of a friendship post-break up had completely dissolved. In so many ways, 2012 felt like a year marked by that relationship and since it was completely removed from my life only a week into 2013, I felt like a failure.
I'd spent an entire year cultivating a relationship with someone I truly cared about, who I thought truly cared about me, and then suddenly, it was all gone. I was back to square one, left to pick up the pieces and figure out where to go next. I felt like I'd wasted 2012. An entire year of my life had been spent building something that was ripped away and, largely because of that relationship, I'd ceased to make progress in other areas of my life like my career.
It was a difficult time and one I don't wish to repeat. But as I scrolled back through my Facebook newsfeed for 2012, attempting to determine the new place I'd gone to that year, I realized something.
In so many ways, I felt like 2012 was a waste because I ended the year single and in the exact same place in my career as I'd started it.
But scrolling through pictures and posts, I noticed something: 2012 was a year filled with adventure, whimsy, and delight.
I flew down to Florida to shoot engagement photos for my amazing sister and brother-in-law. I went to Wisconsin to celebrate the life of my incredible grandmother. I went to my alma mater multiple times to spend time celebrating the accomplishments of people I love. I participated in my church's Easter pageant and learned incredible lessons about how the Lord uses me because of, not in spite of, my brokenness. I went to New York City and drank smoothies and saw Newsies on Broadway and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and ate delicious food and pretended to be dinosaurs with my Bestie. I shot archery and drank hard cider at the renaissance faire, visited one of my favorite places in the whole wide world twice, moved into my first post-college apartment, ran (well, walk/ran) my first 5k, stood up next to my big sister as she pledged her life to the man she loves, started a small group and began to dive into a ridiculously awesome community of believers, and spent Christmas in Michigan with my gigantic and wonderful extended family.
Does that sound like a wasted year to you?
When everyone is posting on Facebook about their new jobs and awesome significant others, it's so easy to believe the lie that if your job and relationship status aren't exactly how you want them to be, you're somehow failing at life. If you're single at 27 or still working at a coffee shop at 25, you're not doing life right.
But your life is so much more than your relationship status or your job title.
Your life is comprised of a million little moments -- the ones filled with laughter and tears and smiles and dinosaur impressions in museums. Your life is comprised of the people you know, the places you've been, the person you were, the person you are, and the person you're becoming.
For the last year, 2012 has been a blemish in the history of my life because I was looking at the wrong things. I was remembering the broken heart and the job I no longer wanted, when I should've been remembering the hard cider and the Brooklyn Bridge.