I actually hadn't thought about doing a 2016 recap until I saw several other bloggers doing it and I remembered that people usually reflect on the year's experiences as January approaches. I guess I'm always one step behind.
But, it seems like for the most part, people don't want to talk about this year. All I've seen on social media is a general consensus to move on as quickly as possible. Of course this doesn't necessarily represent the views of every single person on the planet. Just those I happen to follow on Instagram. But isn't the bad, as well as the good, worth remembering?
I want to talk about this year because it was one of the most important in my life. I can only speak to my story. I had a very good, very great, very hard year.
This year, I married my best friend and started a brand new chapter in my story.
I wish I could say there was much more to my year than my wedding. But the nature of planning an event of that scale is all consuming. And until August 27th, all available space in my brain was focused on one singular objective. The back third of this year has since been consumed with learning how to be a wife instead of a girlfriend, how to balance, how to not drown in new responsibilities.
These are good problems to have. Most days I embrace the challenge. After all, I know I have it relatively easy.
We have big hopes and dreams. For four months today, we've been figuring out how to dream together. To plan together. We've focused a lot more on looking forward than looking back. The future is more exciting now that we're tackling life together, much more exciting than the past. I have a list longer than I care to admit of all the things I want to write about so I can move on. I have half written entries about our trip to New Zealand, half edited photos of home decor I want to share, and half baked recipes, half thought through musings. I see now that these are not true reflections, merely check boxes on my path to get to the next big thing.
Several nights ago, R and I talked about our growth this year. I wept because I wasn't sure I had grown much. Until he brought it up, I was confident I was a different person than I was at the beginning of the year. Which is true, but not because of the kind of growth that matters. I have a different title, a new last name, and a lot of new skills due to the insane level of crafting necessary for pulling off a DIY wedding. But have I grown?
It was so easy to keep living a life of lists. I made a list of vendors, decorations, guests, gifts.... then I made a list of home necessities, bills, groceries, events to go to, friends to see. I didn't know I was doing it, because I was actually enjoying everything as it came. Our wedding was perfect. I was fully present. Everything was beautiful. I enjoyed it. Our honeymoon was amazing. I was so grateful. I made more lists because they helped me get to these places. But lists are always dangerous (at least for me) because eventually they take over. I become obsessed. And once again, I'm checking off boxes.
Boxes I don't normally care about. I have my vices, just like everyone else. My lists spiral into things that don't matter. I lose focus.
This year felt like it flew by because of anticipation. When I'm constantly waiting for the next thing to happen, I can't see what I have now. And then I realized... I've been waiting for joy.
While this year was happy and blissful, it was also incredibly stressful. And I said to myself, you'll have time for deep joy later. You'll have time for friends, community, relaxation, and things that your soul craves....later. Once you check all the boxes. But I'm still checking boxes.
Last night I picked up the book 1000 Gifts again. I read it several years ago and it was pivotal. It connects what people so often miss - real gratitude with deep joy. Lists do not cultivate thankfulness. Oh, they seem important and productive. But they are only a tool. And most things that we really need to achieve cannot be accomplished by a single check mark. They are long, hard, and beautiful paths that often take a lifetime to learn. The most important things in life can't really be checked off. We are never done.
That doesn't mean I give up. Instead I press in. Every day is a chance to relearn dependence - just the opposite of what everyone seems to want. Gratitude, humility, openness.
Perhaps with just four days to go until the new year, I have grown.
I'll look forward to a new year, but I'll know that a clean slate can start any time. That the calendar is just another tool, another list of days. That this last year was good, even if I don't understand all of it. That it happened to me just as it was supposed to. That I'm really excited and very in love. That my story is important no matter how small.