A Disappointing Year

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I’m not gonna lie. 2017 has been a pretty disappointing year. It’s been a year where many things haven’t panned out the way I thought they would – personally, nationally, globally. In a year filled with global tragedies and personal tragedies for more than a few dear friends, my concerns feel petty. But I also know I’m not the only one who has had a disappointing year.

This time last year I was filled with hope at the changes I believed were coming. I expected those changes would bring good things – increased social justice, growth and advancement, opportunities to push a little further into who I am and a little further out into the world. There have been changes for sure but not in the way I expected.

It’s been a year of hearing a lot of “no” and not a lot of “yes”. It’s been a year where more than once I have wondered if I’m headed in the right direction or totally missed my turn somewhere. It’s been a year where I’ve pushed myself past where I’m comfortable and then wondered if I am better or worse off for it. It’s been a year where the fear of failure and inconsequence has been making rustling noises just outside the door.

It’s not the worst year. And there were several unexpected changes that brought a lot of joy. (New sister-in-law! New nephew! My family all in the same country! A chance to work with amazing artists on creative projects!) The disappointments of this year are small in the grand scheme of life. It’s entirely possible that in a few years I won’t even remember them at all. But for now, they are dampening my hope for good things in a way that I don’t like.

I don’t believe in forgetting the past but I do believe in letting the past live in the past. I think being an adult is making decisions and then living with those decisions as best you can. Yet it is all too easy for me to let past failures and disappointments keep me from being brave and stepping out into something new and uncharted. Each disappointment makes me a little more cautious about being courageous again.

The beginning of Advent (and my birthday) are coming up in a few weeks and I am ready to push the restart button. I’m ready for renewed hope and dreams and vision for the next year. I’m looking forward to the holidays to taking a break, time with family, and making time and space for refueling my dwindling reserves. (My Christmas plans include a few days of silence and meditation at a monastic retreat center and I’m so excited.)

There are good things on the horizon. Irons in the fire. Exciting collaborations forming. Relationships deepening and expanding. There are always, always changes and I’m hopeful for a few good ones. I’m proud of myself for the risks I’ve taken even when the payoff isn’t what I expected. I’m not losing hope. I am just spent and tired now. This year has used up more of me than I thought I had. In an odd way, that is encouraging though. The wells of strength and courage and hope are deeper than I think.

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