With the start of a new year I always find myself excited to reflect on the year past and dream of the year ahead. However, it seems this new year is incredibly different than most of the new years of my adult life. 2017 was hard – really fucking hard. If you’re familiar with Brene Brown’s work, it was a face down in the arena year. It was one of those years when, because I dared to truly live and not simply exist, I got knocked down. Face marred with sweat, tears, and emotional bruises – I’m only just beginning to pick myself up from that arena floor. I went all in on life and love and I got my ass handed to me. I don’t regret a damn thing.
When you refuse to play it safe and dare to pursue your dreams, you will get knocked down. It’s inevitable. Playing it safe ensures that you don’t get knocked down as much and that when you do the crash doesn’t hurt so much because you’re not flying that far from the ground. Taking risks, choosing to follow what feels true for you even if it’s not easy or certain, means you will get knocked down and you’ll be flying high so the crash will be intense – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.
When we dare to follow what feels true for us, we risk getting knocked down, sure, but when we play it safe we risk something much worse. We risk never feeling true love and joy. To love fully is to risk immense heartbreak. To experience true joy is to have lived and grown through pain often enough to appreciate the simple joys that exist all around in every moment. Love and joy can be risky. When we play it safe we live around them rather than all up in them. This year I decided that love and joy are of supreme importance in my life and that I could no longer run the risk of playing it safe. And so, because I loved deeply, I also hurt deeply when that love fell apart. Because I allowed myself to feel the full depths of my joy, I also opened up the door to the full depths of my pain. It wasn’t either, or. It was everything and more.
I spent much of 2017 crying in my car between yoga classes, bawling on the couch, and literally face down on my bathroom floor wondering how the fuck I got there, this year was as beautiful as it was painful. I experienced heartbreak and sadness deep down to the core of my being, yet I also experienced profound love and joy deep down to that very same core. Perhaps the contrast of all the pain made the love and joy easier to recognize. Perhaps, it didn’t. Either way, I felt it all.
And, that has been my intention this past year – to feel my way through. I spent 26 years trying to think and plan and organize my way through life. I decided this year was going to be different. I wanted to feel my life – all of it – not just think around it. I wanted to feel it in the moment, every moment, exactly as it was. Well, holy fuck did I do that. I didn’t realize it when I set the intention to feel my way through life that that also meant allowing myself to feel the hard, sad feelings. But, when they came I decided to stay true. I had to go in, headfirst, to feel my way through to the other side.
As I write this, I am realizing that 2017 was the year of feeling. I’ve had years of thinking, dreaming, loving, perfecting, stressing, fearing – and this year was different. Sure there were times I thought myself in circles, dreamed big, loved hard, perfected shit (Ugh, why do my eyebrows never match?!), stressed the fuck out, and trembled in bed with fear – but above all of that this year, I felt.
This has been a year of flowing in and out of hurt and sadness, love and joy. It’s been a year of indescribable joy and sadness. It was a beautiful, messy adventure. While I don’t want to dive back into the sorrow of this summer, I look back on this year fondly, with wild admiration. For me, this was a year of becoming – becoming a little bit more of exactly who I want to be in this world. This year wasn’t the fairy tale ending to the story of my life. No, this year was the messy middle – that part of the story where everything as you knew it falls apart so something even more beautiful can come together.
Here’s to that strong, courageous woman who dared to live true to herself and feel deeply in each moment. Here’s to never forgetting the importance of feeling our way through life. And, here’s to the process, the progress, and the prospect of those more beautiful things that are coming together. Cheers!