I really lived this year.
My year was broken up into thirds. The initial third consisted of my first real relationship in 5 – 6 years. It was a strange experience, diving back into something that I last had when I was 28. It became very clear that I was rusty, and had a lot to learn. I put way too much pressure on the situation. I wanted everything to be perfect, to make up for lost time. I am not proud of who I was, but I’m learning to take it easier on myself. We had a lot of problems, and after the third breakup in four months, I think we can both admit that we were never supposed to be together, that this was never going to work. A little time away and some gained perspective has only confirmed that for me, and I’ve enjoyed being single once again. I don’t feel incomplete. There is a part of me that fears that I’ll never be in a fully functional adult relationship, but that’s a post for another time.
The second third was about getting over that breakup. It had been the right call, to end things (it had been her call not mine), but that didn’t mean that it didn’t sting. In the wake of the hurt and anger, and all of our cancelled trips, I planned some trips of my own. I didn’t break new ground, but rather, revisited the past. I went to places I’d already been, and visited friends that I hadn’t seen in over a year. It was wonderful reconnecting with so many people, and through it all, I let the realizations and epiphanies come in. I was hoping that through traveling, that I would figure out how to proceed, after we all lost such a significant amount of time. Sure, we still lived it, but not in the way that many of us wanted to. I love people, and so spending that much time away was an adjustment. We all learned to be flexible. Most of us didn’t have a choice.
After a recent conversation with a friend, the biggest realization I had was that I had not been fully honest in my relationship, but it ran deeper than that. I had not been fully honest with myself, and about the life that I was living. Parts of my life weren’t what I wanted them to be, and thus began the quest for happiness and fulfillment. I’ve had so much time to reflect. I thought about how after my father’s passing, that while so many people told me to get a job to keep myself busy and to draw my focus, that a part of me couldn’t move on. I couldn’t do something normal like get a job or start a relationship, at least, not until I answered a few key questions. I wanted to know things like, “Why are we here?”, and, “What is my purpose?” This leads me into the final third.
My father loved what he did. He found his calling early in life, and so I wanted that for myself as well. I explored, and tried on different hats, but I’m not sure that any of that mattered. In my eyes, it’s like the universe was waiting for me, waiting for me to get honest with myself, before it offered me a path that I had overlooked, time and time again. It’s been there, right in front of me, for the past four years, but I was so hellbent on another path that I just didn’t see it. Again, I’m trying to have more compassion for myself and the mistakes that I’ve made, the things that I haven’t seen. Life was looking at me and asking me to grow up a little bit more, before it rewarded me with the dream path that I didn’t know I wanted. Maybe everything does happen when the timing is right, but I hate feeling like I’ve wasted time, like I could have gotten here sooner.
This past summer, I took a lot of time off, and now that I know how things would unfold, I wouldn’t have done it any differently. I finally found what I’m supposed to do. For four years, I sought a completely different path that I thought I wanted, that seemed to fit my “skillset”, that seemed to make sense for me. However, this past summer, I was asked if I would consider something else, and decided to give this alternate path a shot. That question would change my life, possibly forever. This path that had been hiding in plain sight suddenly became everything I’ve ever wanted. I’ve been walking this alternative path for a few months now, and it’s become my singular focus. I didn’t realize how much I missed being in the fire.
Once I got going on this alternate path, I didn’t want to take a break. I think about the original path from time to time, but not because I’m missing it. When I think about it now, I realize that it would have been such a mistake. I’m so much happier now than I ever would have been otherwise. The original path serves as a reminder to keep my eyes open. More than anything, it’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of tunnel vision.
The past couple of months have been profoundly transformational. Helping people is what I will do from here on out, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m a far cry from the anxious, tortured twenty-something that I used to be. It’s clear to me now that I want to help people, want to fight for them. I remember telling my father that I had passion, and he shot back, “For what?” I know now what that passion is for, what my direction is supposed to be. I’d like to think that my days of floating are behind me, but that doesn’t mean I regret them. I was really struggling to figure out what I wanted out of life, and that self exploration is something that I encourage everyone to do at least once, if not multiple times. There are definitely healthier ways to do it, but it’s of the utmost importance to do that kind of work.
I’ve found a way, a direction to move in, and I’m even considering going back to school at some point. One piece at a time. There’s more work to be done, and so much else in my life needs to change, but I am grateful for this wild and challenging year. I’m grateful for all the wonderful people who made it possible. I’m so proud of the relentless self inquiry I’ve been able to do, and for the therapist and psychiatrist who keep me level-headed. I’ve needed everyone in my support system to keep me going.
I don’t know what 2022 will hold, I only know that 2 years after my mental illness episode, that I’m recovering and continuing that process, and I’ve found something that activates me on a such a deep level. I am grateful for the challenges that have been thrown my way. I know that I’ve needed them in order to become a better version of myself. Emotionally, I’m becoming more and more sensitive. I don’t know what’s happening to me, but it feels like I’m really living, really experiencing each and every emotion more deeply. It’s kind of wonderful. More than anything, I know that no matter what’s next, I know that I’m coming home. That’s all that I’ve ever wanted. Thanks for reading.
One thought on “2021 (Year in Review)”
Life does hold the answer in plain sight, but seeing it is the thing.
Losing your father or any parent is too tough for words. Carrying on as normal it quiet impossiblewhat, because normal has just been taken away. It has been 26 years plus since I lost my dad. I still cry.
Glad you have found the right job for you.
We have to live the life that makes us happy. As long as we are not hurting others, we must live our truth.
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