Maybe the best way to start off the New Year is to procrastinate. At least, that’s what I tell myself as I write the post that was intended for January 1… four days late. There are any number of solid excuses for this: I’ve been busy, I’ve been traveling, blah blah blah. But ultimately, it comes down to one fact: I didn’t (and still don’t) know how to summarize a year in one post. 2015 has been a year of crazy change, unbelievable adventures, and a fair amount of self reflection. To give you a brief idea: I graduated with my undergraduate degree this year, I went skydiving, I completed 160 hours of Yoga Teacher Training, I got into a fellowship that allows me to live in Germany, I am currently living in Germany, and I’m going to London next year for graduate school. Long story short- the intense pace that has been my life for the past 365 days isn’t going away. The rest of this post gets a bit personal and more self-reflecting.
Before we get to the mushy feelings section, I’ll be quick. My year has really not been as dire as I perhaps make it sound below. I have a tendency to be slightly dramatic and with sensitive topics, it’s difficult not to be. This year, as you read above, has been filled with incredible moments of triumph, both shared and solo. The darker parts will always have a more poignant taste (and let’s be real here: no one wants to hear about just the happy bits).
To the tune of self-reflection, it’s hard to know where to begin. As long as I can remember, I’ve been extremely self-conscious about how I look, which in of itself is not entirely odd for a girl. This year, though (perhaps as a function of Teacher Training), I resolved to at least start to get over that. Body confidence isn’t something that I want to waste brain cells on; I’d rather be reading or going to yoga or at least be doing something productive. And I sort-of kind-of have. In some ways, I’m just as terrible to myself as I’ve always been but in others – I feel more at home in this bag of skin that will continue to house me. And as far as things go for 2015 – that feels like more of an accomplishment than any of the other events that have changed.
My father got prostate cancer this year, and underwent a botched surgery, the result of which was him spending 15 days in the hospital. I cannot begin to describe to you how utterly heart-wrenching that was. I have never felt myself on the verge of tears so often. Nor have I ever had to fake it so often with such difficulty. Expressing emotions is hard. It’s this vulnerability that no one wants to admit, especially when it comes to sickness. No one wants to be pitied. Even now, I find myself wondering what would have happened if he hadn’t come out the other side. He prefers to stick with the Gricius family motto, which (apparently) is that we are strong people and we get through anything, not letting anything stop us. Perhaps that is the best way to deal with it, and I certainly agree that’s my life motto too with reservations. Seeing someone you love very much in terrible pain and not being able to help or alleviate the symptoms is hollowing. I think I will carry that emotion for the rest of my life, and the memories of these past few months hopefully with the internal strength to never again have to feel that.
This year was also the year where I discovered that I never really mourned the loss of my mother. Somewhere between the dreaded 14 hour days at Teacher Training and split tears every night with my dad, I could see that whatever I did as a child was merely a delay mechanism. I still don’t know when I’m going to be ready to properly grieve or if it’s something that will take time – but knowing that I’m not done per-say with that part of my life has been a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. Let me explain. People like to consider themselves through rose-colored lenses, picking and choosing the best parts of themselves to admire. I am no exception to that rule, I will espouse my ability to adapt and friendliness to no end – but mention the crippling flaws like shyness, manipulatory, and pathologically lying and I’m suddenly silent. I have always wanted to think of myself as completed as I am. But seeing myself in this whole new life (Thanks to Teacher Training), it’s become apparent to me just how unformed I am. There are so many gaps, so many cracks in what makes me a person. I have not grieved for my mother who died more than 10 years ago, and as a result – my childhood memories are blurred at best. Up until fifth grade, I can only tell you what I know from what others tell me. And knowing that is okay. Acknowledging that there will always be something “wrong” with me is freeing in the sense that now there is no fake screen of perfection. I can see myself for who I am, and I’m happy with it. I like my strengths and my flaws are just the same as everyone else’s.
It’s difficult, no, it’s frightening to put writing up on the internet that stretches so deeply into our own struggles. Did I mention I originally meant this to be an upbeat reflection of the year? That evidently didn’t happen. But I think it’s important to share stories like this – because it has to potential to make someone else’s life easier in seeing that other people are dealing with the same struggles that they face. If there’s one thing I want, it is for someone to read this who is facing something similar. Humanity has a way of isolating themselves in difficult times, when really shared experiences can be the healthiest way to heal and pull yourself together after facing something challenging. That’s all I can hope to share from last year.
2016 is going to be a mixture of success, happiness, pain and regret, just like last year was. I can almost guarantee it. In all honesty, I’d rather have a bit of both.