The Difference A Year Can Make

At the beginning of each year we made these grand plans to make massive changes in our lives. I will be healthier. I will sleep more. I will cook more. I will pray more. I will be kinder. I will work harder….We make promises to our selves that are often empty. And at the end of each year we look back and feel like nothing has changed, we haven’t made any progress. However, I invite you to be skeptical of that self-accusation. Because if you take a moment to reflect on who you were last year in comparison to this year, I would be willing to bet that the difference is tremendous.

It is easy to look at the negative changes in your life. Maybe you are 20 pounds heavier. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you went through a break up, or transferred schools. Maybe you didn’t make it into the program you wanted or maybe you just aren’t the person you thought you would be, but is that bad?

I sincerely believe that everything happens for a reason. The trials we face, the things that knock us down, each failure and success shape us. Now, I think the consequences of each event is up to you. How will you let the events of your life shape you?

I will share my year for illustrative purposes.

Last year, I entered my first year of college. I moved into a dorm, chose the classes I would spend my time in, and for the first time in my life had complete control over what I did. That is a lot of change for an 18 year old. I am an only child; so moving into small living quarters with three other girls was a challenge to say the least. Now I was lucky because I had roommates that made the transition easier than it could have been. However, I didn’t do that for myself.

I was burned out. I was little miss do it all in high school, so when I finally had a chance to just be a student I jumped at the opportunity. Each day, I went to class and went home. I would workout at my local gym, and then retire for the night to my little cocoon in my dorm room. I would cry myself to sleep, because I was absolutely miserable. Yet I didn’t do anything to fix it. I let the consequences of these changes destroy me.

So, after a year of self inflicted torment, I made a change.

I jumped head first into everything I could. I got a job, I got a cat, I joined a sorority, I became the president of said sorority, I started writing for a website, I took 18 hours, I started writing and editing for this website, I actually made friends, and I was happy…. for approximately two seconds.

There was a brief period of ecstasy in the busy. I felt like I had become the girl I used to be, and then realized that I would never be that girl again. Past Emily and Present Emily will always be two different people, with two different needs. I learned that lesson the hard way. Depression, anxiety, sleepless nights, missed deadlines, and failures are what resulted in me trying to fit in a box that wasn’t made for me.

This sounds like the worst year ever right? Well if you look at it from the perspective I just presented, then yes. But that isn’t the whole story.

Over the past year, I have learned more about myself than I ever had before. I learned what I need to be happy. I learned that just because my body doesn’t look like it did in high school doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful and strong. I learned what it is like to have true friends and what it is to be loved and pursued by them. I learned that just because I am not perfect doesn’t mean that I am broken.

So, just because I may not have hit all my new year’s resolutions, doesn’t mean I had a bust of a year. I am growing up, and although the road is bumpy, I am still making forward progress.

With that being said, I would encourage you to give yourself some grace. Look back though a positive lense to see how far you have come, and I promise you will be surprised. Be stronger because of every set back. Let the hard times in your life change you for the better, because you deserve that. Never be your own worst enemy, because you are the one person you can’t escape.