Ahh, December. The perfect time to start reflecting on the year and thinking about what you hope to achieve in the year ahead. If 2019 has taught me anything, it’s that no matter what you plan, life will surprise you. This year feels especially reflective as we come to the end of not only the past year, but the past decade.
To be 27 at the end of a decade is a strange sensation. 10 years ago, I was a teenager in high school. In so many ways, that feels like a different lifetime. At 17, I was freshly out of a long, terrible, and tumultuous relationship the after effects of which I would feel well into my 20’s. I was getting ready to graduate high school, with the grand adventure of college waiting out there on the horizon.
At 27, things feel a bit more nebulous. I’ve written before about how this stage in life feels strange to me, without a clearly defined length of time in which to accomplish any sort of educational goal.
On top of this general existential angst, 2019 has not been easy. I ran (literally) into the new year with high, high hopes (cue: Panic at the Disco) of running my first half marathon in May. Instead, I got sidelined with unexplained back and hip pain that took the better part of six months to heal, and for which I never got a clear underlying cause. In March I made the decision to defer my race and hope that I’d be healthy enough to run it come May 2020.
I greeted my 27th birthday bitterly. At 26 I’d spent the day running my first 10K, and now I could barely handle mall walking excursions without pain. Though I enjoyed a morning tea service at The Frick with my boyfriend and a lovely lunch with many good friends, inside of me was a white hot ball of rage and fear. It felt like my body was beginning to fall apart, and I wondered what my life would look like if 27 brought so much uncertainty.
In June, my beloved cat, Artemis, died. He’d been sick for a little while, and I thought I was ready for what was to come, but the grief rocked me more than I could have anticipated. He’s been with me for most of this decade, that dear sweet kitten who kindly proved I needed to dump aforementioned terrible ex when he jumped up into said boy’s lap and the guy said “Get this thing off me!”
In July, I began experiencing sharp, stabbing pains at the base of skull and began a series of doctor’s appointments and tests to see what might be the matter. I tried a few treatment plans before we settled on a diagnosis and a way to cope. I got an MRI and then, in October, a definitive but largely mysterious diagnosis. In a few short months I’d gone from healthy to someone with a chronic pain disorder, the cause of which is almost entirely unknown.
In August, I moved out of the apartment I’d shared with a dear friend and resumed living alone. It felt different than I remembered. Though I still do relish the freedom and alone time, I’ve never lived truly alone, since my apartment in Cincinnati was also home to Artemis. Even now, sometimes I catch sight of something out of the corner of my eye and turn sharply, expecting to see a cat up to some mischief there. At the same time, living alone makes it so much easier to carve out the introvert time I need to recharge.
It’s so easy to think back on this year and recount all that I’ve had to navigate, the down swings and difficulties that loom largest when I think of this year. When I think about the struggles of the year, I try to be grateful that I’ve overcome them. That I’ve survived. To remember that in spite of it all, this year like any year in which I continue the great, wondrous adventure of being alive, has come with some good.
I find it valuable not only to reflect on the past year, but to spend some time forcing myself to give kudos for the things I’ve accomplished and gratitude for what I’ve experienced. While the list that follows may not be of interest to you, I invite you to take a moment to make a similar list yourself. Whether you thrived in 2019 or merely survived, there are undeniably things to be proud of yourself for this year, and you deserve a moment to pat yourself on the back.
In 2019, I:
(links in this list go to blog posts or published pieces written about the experiences mentioned)
- Completed my 4th consecutive 30 Day Yoga Journey with Yoga with Adriene, YWA Dedicate
- Made homemade bath bombs and thoroughly stained my boyfriend’s bathtub with my overzealous use of dye (and then used a Magic Eraser to clean said bathtub before he moves out)
- Started playing Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, cementing friendships with two wonderful groups of people and finally entering the world of Tabletop RPG I’ve been curiously watching from the sidelines for years
- Became obsessed with The Glass Cannon podcast & network, listening to over 300 episodes worth of content (Am I proud of this? I am not sure)
- Got medically cleared to start running again and clicked “redeem” on that deferral code for my 2019 Half Marathon, sealing myself a spot in the 2020 Flying Pig Half
- Had a date for Valentine’s Day for the first time in my adult life, and received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers at work, to boot
- Practiced yoga with Adriene in person at a wonderful 3-day retreat, filling a major bucket list item
- Stepped way the way out of my comfort zone and traveled to Salem, Massachusetts for a weeklong women’s retreat with near-total strangers from an online community
- Celebrated my one-year anniversary with Andy
- Completed my second year teaching two college courses I’ve wanted to teach for years (English Composition and our First Year Experience course, Strategies for Success in College)
- Got a tiny bit better at work-life balance and self advocacy, including asking HR for a standing desk that has massively improved my chronic pain symptoms
- Starting writing consistently(ish) again
- Went to Niagara Falls, my first foray to Canada and first international trip since graduate school
- Helped implement the logistical pieces of a new policy for students to use their affirmed names across university systems
- Kayaked for the second & third times
- Served as a student success coach to a new cohort of students
- Screened, lectured on, and led a discussion of Captain Marvel for the first time
- Got two essays accepted for publication
- Co-facilitated two more mindful writing workshops with my friend & former roommate, Mel
- Went to therapy regularly
- Changed over my monthly Ipsy subscription to support a couple of my favorite creators on Patreon
- Attended a Patreon livestream with one of my running role models and ended up being the only person there, resulting in a one on one conversation
- Finally went to the dentist after a full calendar year of ignoring the fact that I finally had dental insurance
- Hiked most of Mt. Marcy, the highest point in the state of New York
- Got to share happy moments as friends moved in with partners, got pregnant with their first baby, celebrated new professional and educational successes
- Ran/walked/hobbled my 3rd 10K
- Learned to cross-stitch
- Ran my first Turkey Trot 5K
- Shared a beloved Ohio gem, Hocking Hills, with my boyfriend, something I used to dream of one day doing when I visited there with my family as a kid
- Participated in many, many enjoyable Quidditch and Battle of the Fandoms mileage events with the Potterhead Running Club and Fandom Running Club (shoutout to Mel, who joined me for the first time this year!)
- Capped in aforementioned events, which means hitting the maximum total of 15 miles in one day–my first time achieving this accomplishment!