Reflecting on the Hardest Year of My Life

In just a few short weeks, we’ll be saying goodbye not just to 2019, but also the end of the decade that shaped our childhood. For many of us, it’s a bittersweet ending, because it seems that 2019 was hard for all of us and we just couldn’t wait for it to end, but we’re also not ready to say goodbye to our childhoods. We started the decade as innocent young children knowing very little about the real world, and this past year it’s almost as if all we wanted to do was go back. Many of us can agree 2019 was not easy, and it felt like somehow we were experiencing the best moments of our lives in the midst of the worst year of our lives. At first, I thought it was just me, but after countless hours of social media scrolling, I realized I wasn’t alone and that many of us were feeling the same way. Though I don’t know how or why we all shared this feeling, there’s one thing I do know for sure: we survived! 2020 is right around the corner, so I want to take some time to reflect on the positive things that got me through this year, and just hope they can get me through the next one.

The year started off pretty strong. I was doing well in school, I had good relationships with (most of) my roommates, I had a solid circle of friends, and overall, I was pretty content with how life was going. It was only once summer hit that things started to really go downhill. I won’t get into all the personal details, but let’s just say it wasn’t much of a “hot girl summer” after all. The one thing that really got me through, however, was keeping my friends close and making time for them even in my darkest times. Despite how much I may have wanted to, I couldn’t go through my hardships alone. Talking to my friends about what I was going through brought us closer than ever before. They made me feel heard and appreciated at my lowest points, and I did the same for them. Everybody always has something personal going on that they don’t really like to talk about, but sometimes that’s the best thing to do. We comforted each other, supported each other, and now, we’re healing together.

Although having their support is beneficial, friends can’t solve all our problems, as much as we may wish they could. Which is why, this year, I also started attending therapy sessions. For so long I thought therapy was a waste of time. I didn’t see how it could possibly be helpful. But once my mental health hit an all time low, I realized I needed to give it a shot. I’ve now been going once a week for the last two months and already I feel like it’s been super helpful. Even if no mental illnesses are present and no diagnoses are made, it’s great to just have a safe place to vent and talk through things with a third-party who can give completely unbiased opinions. It really helps clear your head and let go of some deep-rooted emotions. 

Another thing that keeps me going each day is the fact that I always give myself something to look forward to. I’m a sucker for concerts and live shows, but when I can’t afford them or there simply isn’t anything that interests me at the moment, I entertain myself in other ways by just planning movie nights, day trips, and anything that gets me out of the house. This past year, I went to 5 concerts and the VMAs, not to mention a bunch of other fun moments like my week-long trip to Turks & Caicos and going to Pride for the first time. I kept myself busy to prevent myself from feeling lonely all the time and distract myself from all my problems, which is why, in a way, 2019 was one of the best years of my life. I did a lot of things for the first time, and in the midst of all that was happening, I started to really find myself, to the point where I don’t even recognize the person I was a year ago. However, though I was happy in all those little moments, and looked happy on my social media posts, I was actually really lost on the inside, and no amount of nights out could distract me from that. Which brings me to my next and final point: social media.

Perhaps the biggest thing I learned to do this year was to avoid looking at other people’s social media unless it was absolutely necessary. All too often I would just be laying in bed scrolling through Instagram or watching Snapchat stories and seeing all the fun things other people were doing while I was just home, waiting for the next day that I, too, could post about all the fun I was having. But that’s when it hit me -- I’m no different from everyone else. People use social media to highlight the good times, not to document the bad. If someone’s having a bad day, they’re not gonna post about it. That’s when I started to realize I needed to step away from social media, or at least, stop paying so much attention to other people’s. It was still nice to use social media to document my exciting moments in my own life, purely for my own memories. But on bad days or just during bad moods, I learned to just put my phone down and do some work or spend time with my family to cheer myself up. And regardless of anything, the one thing I always liked to remember was this -- no one’s life is as perfect as it looks online, and one bad day doesn’t mean my life is any less than everyone else’s. 

2019 may have been the hardest year of my life thus far, but thinking about it now, I’m thankful for everything it taught me. Without the tough times, it’s hard to enjoy the good ones. You need to lose yourself in order to truly find yourself, and though I haven’t exactly found myself yet, I’m working on it every day. Hopefully, the end of this decade brings with it an end to our hardest struggles and the next decade brings opportunity for growth and happiness. After all, once you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up from here.