Writing by Katie Buddle // Photograph by Ani Malguina
Looking back on the past year, I cannot believe how quickly it has gone. I know that’s a cliché and that I probably make the same exclamation at this point every year, but each year it seems to hit a little harder, and pass a lot quicker. I always feel that I should wrap up the year with a kind of thoughtful nostalgia, having achieved 20/20 hindsight about it all as we draw the year to a close.
Honestly though, I’m still confused. How did all that time pass? What happened to all the things I was going to do? Why didn’t I learn a new instrument like I thought I would, or spend more time writing, or make a YouTube channel? One minute I was putting up my new calendar in January; I next checked it when I was moving house in August, and now I don’t even know where it is (probably still in a box in the storage unit beneath my apartment). With only one day crossed off: January 1st, 2015.
I think we always expect to have learnt something by the end of the year, like an arbitrary metric of twelve months is going to be a perfect and compact neat little box of self-exploration, trial, tribulation, and renewal. And honestly, yeah, it probably was. But the expectation that we will be able to articulate exactly what we have learnt and processed over the past year is one that I find kind of stressful. For me, I begin to automatically invalidate any kind of progress or learning that did happen, as I rush to try to prove that I achieved something. As soon as I begin to think of my experiences over the past year as a kind of work towards some kind of achievement or endgame, I begin to wonder if what I “achieved” was actually enough.
Maybe that’s just me. But I think that there is a lot of potential in throwing off the shackles of expectation when it comes to planning your New Year’s resolutions, or in considering your previous ones. Our own self-imposed metric of success can invalidate all the things that we experienced over the years. So you didn’t learn how to roller-skate? That’s cool. You still got through a whole year. You got out of bed sometimes, you slept in other times. You brushed your teeth mostly twice a day, but honestly sometimes you fell asleep with your laptop tucked up under your chin before you could even get out of your jeans. You didn’t take up photography, but you took some damn cute selfies, and I think that’s great.
I think that there is beauty in the small moments, achievements, and even perceived failures of the past year. Now is not the moment when everything is meant to come together, tied in a perfect little cathartic bow with a tag that reads: “2015”. We still have stuff to figure out. It’s a process. Next year the journey will continue, and we will write more lists of things to do and we will procrastinate doing most of them, even if they are things that we love. We will grow and change, but we may not have access to what it takes to measure our own personal progress, because we will be living it. We will stay the same—the moments around us will just sometimes be different.
Did you achieve something in 2015 you are really proud of? That is so cool! Write it down! In glitter pen! Mail it to yourself! Plan to get a tattoo of it! Celebrate your success. But also celebrate the moment where you felt totally average, where you were just okay. Imperfect, often inoperable, but wonderfully and undeniable human. And if 2015 was a write-off for you, let it be a wash: you have plenty of time to figure stuff out. You are beautiful, kind, clever, industrious, and always trying— even if you feel ineffectual sometimes. So buy a new calendar, write a new list, practice momentum. But perhaps, this time, also practice patience. In 2015 you woke up every day, and you took many breaths, and time passed, and now you are here. And that simple trajectory of however you passed your time is something beautiful that is worth celebrating.
On that note, I am going to go and try to find my old calendar. I think it had flowers on it. Or deers? Maybe deers. I might try to salvage the pictures, but the days to fill have completely passed now, so I will probably just chuck them in the recycling bin.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Happy New Year!!!