So nothing really happened this year; is that such bad thing ?

swept up in a wave, Manuel Antonio Beach Costa Rica

It’s easy to look at a year where nothing momentous happened as a total wash. There was no job promotion or new degree. I didn’t have a boyfriend or a fiancé. In fact, I got dumped by a pseudo-boyfriend and then he fled across the country to Brooklyn. I am 24 and a half: my psychic uncle said I should have met “the One” by now, but I am currently doubting his clairvoyant abilities. I didn’t adopt a cat from the SPCA down the road like I had longed to do. I didn’t achieve one of my major career path goals that I had set at the beginning of the year despite a lot of hard work, and this struck me as an elephantine failure.

From the outside, I think my life in 2018 probably had good optics. I am young and pretty, I have a job that I am actually interested in, making more money than most people my age and living in one of the best cities in the country. I take nice Instagrams, and occasionally write essays on Medium that my friends on social media seemed to enjoy, or at least read.

The knowledge of this does nothing to quell the non stop chatter in my brain telling me I should be achieving more — that every year, nay every month, should be hallmarked by some colossal life achievement. I look at all that I am not: a famous author or essayist, a Rhodes Scholar, fluent in French. I am not saving enough money! I am not making as much as I can be! I am not reading as much as everyone else or traveling enough. I am not running for office. Why was I listening to so many podcasts instead of making a podcast? Why was I not invited to every single party that was ever thrown in San Francisco? Instead of coming home after an exhausting day at work and eating take out and watching Netflix, I should be utilizing my hours better. I should be more productive. It was exhausting, yet to have anything less than this mindset struck me as complacent. I never want to be complacent.

Should I make a list of small achievements, I wondered, so I could feel like I made something of my last 365 days? I guess it would go something like this.

  • I hired a personal trainer. She is a former cop and has tattoo sleeves which I find incredibly motivating and badass.
  • I got a new therapist and she thinks I’m completely lovable just the way I am (big if true!), which is an intriguing theory.
  • I became closer to my younger and only sister. Because we are 8 and a half years apart, we always had emotional distance between us and I wasn’t fully cognizant of her personhood. She has a vast inner life that I wasn’t always aware of. But she let me in when I knocked on the door. She has rebounded from the pits of depression this year with a valiant and relentless strength, and expanded my capacity to love and care and worry.
  • I started singing (albeit, badly) at a piano martini bar called Martuni’s. I’ve always loved to sing, but I never had the training to become great at it. I like the idea that you don’t have to be perfect or even good at something to give it a try. It’s liberating.
  • I wrote! Not as much as I liked, but enough to keep me going and to shoo the pain away. Mostly essays. Some poetry that I haven’t let anyone see. Sad diary entries.
  • I got back into volunteering in my current community and remembered why it matters so much. In the process, I have brushed up my rusty Spanish and it’s almost in top form again.
  • I did some activities for the first time that terrified me physically: I rode in a sailboat off the coast of Santa Cruz, and I ziplined over a rainforest in Jacó, Costa Rica. It is the ceding of control that makes these things scary to me, but the payoff is a sense of wonder, a thrill and the pride you feel of having conquered your mind.

Why didn’t the small achievements, these happy moments and positive changes, mean anything? Maybe because there was no recognition for things like making new friends, or getting a haircut, or getting a new therapist. There would be no cake or parties or congratulations cards sent to me for the bullet list above. Except to give recognition to yourself I suppose was no small thing. Life is not just the big moments, which come every now and then, but the accumulation of all the little moments. I should look forward to both equally.

(I am large. I contain multitudes)