Let’s face it. This has been a garbage year.
From losing Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Leonard Cohen, to electing a self-centered, egomaniac as president, this year has sucked. And of course, while writing the previous sentence, I learned that Carrie Fisher died. Wow. While trying to write a “here are some positive things about 2016” post, Carrie Fisher died. Boy, 2016 just does not want to let up, does it?
Because this has been such an awful year, I’m using this post to catalog nine positive things that happened to me this year. I’m not doing this not to convince myself that this year hasn’t been horrible, but more to remind my depressive self that even in garbage years like this, there are still some small good things to look forward to. I’ll also conclude this list with my New Years Resolutions, in the hope that 2017 will offer better things and less deaths.
- I went to Oxford. I had every intention of writing down all the amazing things that happened to me in Oxford, but never had the chance. But what a wonderful trip it was. My third trip, which ended up being just as meaningful and magical as my previous trips. I got to dig through the C.S. Lewis archives, handle his old hand-written notes and manuscripts. I got to meet new friends that shared my passion for musicals, Inklings, and art. I got to sing at the top of my lungs with said friends, everywhere from pubs to bus-rides, to street strolls. I got to reconvene with old friends, learn from scholars, and broach important topics regarding literature and the future. Oxford reminded me of who I was.
- I protested when Trump came to St. Louis in March. I learned a lot going there. I saw girls ten years younger than me in line, repeating the same tired lines I used to repeat: “Hillary is a criminal, she is a liar” along with some new ones: “Trump is the only candidate with balls”. Oddly enough, I related to those girls, who plainly refused to look outside their bubble, because of course everything was tainted by “the liberal media”. I used to act similarly. It felt good to stand up for what I believed in, it felt good to wear a shirt that proclaimed that my Christianity would always be against what Trump stood for. I’ll continue to protest in the upcoming year and I will continue to practice a Christianity that stands against Trump’s hatred and greed.
- I rekindled my passion for music. There was a time when I thought I had to choose ONE THING as a career path. Oddly enough, the person who convinced me otherwise was Lin-Manuel Miranda–who has never met me. But seeing someone who had a talent for writing, acting, and making music seamlessly turn those talents into a career is nothing short of inspiring. It reminds me that I can do anything. My love for music never really went away, but there was a time in high school when I dropped it. I had pretty much the worst music teacher in the world in high school, who utterly destroyed my confidence in my musical ability and unfortunately convinced me that I had no future in music. That was a lie. I am talented at singing, I have a tremendous amount of musical ability, and I carried that teacher’s negativity on my back for way too long. It’s time to pursue the other half of myself–music–and find a way to infuse it into my calling.
- I took three classes and got a 4.0 this semester. For the past three years, I was taking one class at a time, because that was all I could afford. Then I decided to go crazy this year and take three night classes while maintaining a full-time job. The last time I took multiple classes in one semester, I had a very real and ugly struggle with depression–which negatively impacted my grades. It was daunting to throw myself back in again. BUT I DID IT. I had my ups and downs this semester, but I got all A’s, including a lengthy independent study that was intended to prep me for graduate work.
- I presented a paper at the Taylor Colloquium in June. The last time I did this was in 2014, where I was so nervous during my presentation, I paced back and forth frantically like a psycho, which I think inhibited my project. I did much better in June, felt a lot more confident. Both papers helped my research for my independent study and it felt good to add more to my CV and foundation in Inklings research.
- I got a new cat. Losing Goldenrod last January was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through, and I say that with absolute sincerity. He was a part of my life for so long and there is still an emptiness in my heart from his absence. Dorothy will never replace him and will never be able to fill that emptiness, but I am learning to love her for her own distinct, bratty, and affectionate personality.
- My best friend moved in. I’ve been fortunate to live with best friends for the past three years–two from high school, and now one from college. I am so grateful for her, for what a great roommate she’s been this year, for her encouragement, her faith, her humor, and her support.
- My trip to North Carolina and Indiana. Such a short little road trip, but so badly needed! I needed that autumn foliage to remind me of the glory of God’s creation. I needed to see Rebecca, to remind me that I’m not the only one who understands Oxford. I needed that Heath McNease show (his live performance of “The Great Divorce” will remain forever in my heart) to inspire and sustain me. I needed that drive up through Kentucky, to see my old WWU friends, to giggle, to smile, to talk about boys and life. I needed that Kate Voegele concert, that night of revelry and fun.
- Hell’s Heresies. This year, thanks to another best friend, I had a story idea. A story idea that morphed into a full blown novel, of which I am 20,000 words in. I have a weird, unshakable confidence in this one–the same absurd confidence that got me my first job, despite my lack of experience and degree, the same absurd confidence that got me to Oxford both times, the same absurd confidence that appears out of nowhere, but carries me through nevertheless. This novel is going to be it. It’s going to be the one I publish. I don’t know if it will be successful or make me scads of money, but I know that this novel is it.
Boo you, 2016. Further up and further in to better things!