Last night, as 2011 gave way to 2012, I was surprised to find myself thinking – what if this really is the last new year we’ll ever see?
I’m a naturally skeptical person. I don’t put much stock in superstition or Mayan calendars. But as I drifted fitfully into much-needed sleep (I was stupid enough to get up at 6 a.m. on the 31st) I realized something.
If it all comes to an end in 2012, I’m not angry. Don’t misunderstand me – I am 21 years old and I have a million and one dreams and I am so eager to experience my life that I’m having trouble standing still and waiting for the future. I am insatiable; I am dying for more life.
But 21 or not, if it’s over in a few months, that’s okay. I have had a life, and I have lived wide and deep and tall.
I have loved people, to tears and distraction and excess. I have felt the deep warmth of falling in love and the hollow sting of a broken heart. I have cried myself to sleep. I have made others cry. I have perched at the edge of a mountain to talk under the stars. I have held children while they cried on my shoulder.
I have lived through the horrifying, humbling experience of losing belief in God. I have searched and read and tried desperately to hold onto the religion I was raised with, and I have watched helplessly as it slipped right through my fingers. And then, I have watched in amazement as the empty religion I lost was replaced with real faith in a very real God. I know what it is to look at the sky and know, deep in my soul, that it was created by someone who loves me.
I have fallen so in love with a place that its mountains and its people have become a part of me. I have traveled and I have not seen the world, but the little pieces of it I’ve experienced have brought me joy. I have walked barefoot on summer grass and breathed in the smell of chlorine and concrete and suburbia. I have been a child, and though it’s now a blur of dependence and magic and Mattel plastic, I know that my childhood was good. And I have been an adult; I have looked around me and seen the lives my old friends have made and smiled in happiness for them and known what they have is not what I want. I have set my sights on the future. I have dreamed.
I have known despair and I have known triumph over despair. In frustration with numbness and dependency, I have tossed aside the taunting bottle of chalky blue pills and fallen headlong into the pit. But always, later, I have taken a deep breath and renewed my hope and my commitment to getting better even when “better” isn’t the easy place to be. I have tried again. I have tried so hard.
I have succeeded. I have seen my name in bylines I never would’ve imagined having, I have worked and interviewed and foregone sleep until I carved out exactly what I wanted. And I have also ruined incredible opportunities and I have slept away chances and I have made the wrong choices. I have failed spectacularly. And every time, I have gotten back up and tried again.
I am alive.
It is enough.