I just don’t know about this year. I wouldn’t pick it out, you know, if all of the years were spread in front of me and I could choose them, relive them, one by one. I would go back further, before I chose this one. But then, wouldn’t everyone? Being 17 was always going to be better than being 32. Most people are wistful for their early 20s long into their 30s and 40s. The endless stretching years of abdication of responsibility laying out in front of you like a lifetime of indifference – interrupted briefly by wild nights, lost memories, fleeting loves and long lie-ins.
I know that it is ‘de rigeuer’ to hate 2016 anyway, but I never cried any tears for Bowie or Prince (sorry). I cried salty, ugly tears for rainy holidays and suffocating overwhelm and torn muscles and missing people and injuring innocent things but I did not weep for fallen heroes (I’m far too self-centred, I think). So if my year wasn’t punctuated by their losses, then why am I watching the last dying embers of 2016 with a cautious eye ensuring they fully extinguish, rather than a feeling of fleeting loss?
Every year for the last few years has had a milestone moment. Buying a house, getting engaged, moving workplaces and changing jobs, getting married, and this year another house move and another new job. Changechangechangechange. I’m kind of longing for a nothing year now, you know? I need some time to decompress. I need some time to sleep. This year we went to Mexico, France and New York. I got a promotion and a job I have real passion for. We bought a house with a roll top bath, tiled hallway and a brass door-knocker. I love Bodhi dog more than I thought it was possible to love another thing. I am so, so lucky that sometimes I just walk around my house and worry it will be taken away from me. But. But. (Always with the but).
But 2016 has been filled with lots of days (and nights) when I have felt sad or lost. It has been a year when I haven’t felt truly myself and it’s made me feel confused and stressed. I’ve filled this year with either seeking out experiences and engagements to try and find what fits, or seeking out total solitude and looking inward. I feel either exhausted, or bored. I find myself constantly looking at other people’s lives and wondering, is that what I should be doing? Is that the life I should have? I haven’t written the novel yet, started the podcast, lived in a foreign country or run a half-marathon. I haven’t got a Master’s Degree, learnt reflexology or seen the Northern Lights. I’ve got a great job that’s stable, flexible and uncomplicated but should I be doing something creative, pushing myself out of my comfort zone? I can’t help but feel like 2016 wasn’t the greatest because I fell a little behind. Got a little more lost. Spent too much time on the go, or mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and shopping for trainers. Not enough time ‘chasing my dreams’. (Or maybe that only exists on instagram, and why are they running away from me anyway?)
Ugh, instagram. Okay, here is a thing. Everyone’s photos of babies in reindeer outfits and toddlers unwrapping presents is making me wonder if I want tiny people in my life. But I don’t know for sure about that either. There’s just so much I don’t know, and that’s been a theme for 2016. I sought out some advice recently to help with this, and one of the things I took away is that sometimes I need to be more at peace with the ‘not knowing’. To get comfortable and sit in the indecision of not having the answers as to what I should be doing with my life – whether I should be I travelling, whether we should be starting a family, whether I should write the novel, keep the blog, join the football team, get the management qualification (etc). I realised that some periods are about just ‘being’ rather than feeling the pressure of making decisions. And I think that’s my plan for 2017. Not to beat myself up about knowing what the next steps are for me, but just to take my hands off the wheel a little and just ‘be’. I incite my own stress by telling myself to make more decisions, but maybe it’s enough for now just to take more baths, get more sleep, smell more flowers and read more books. Maybe 2017 will be a nothing year, and that is what I need. Or maybe it will be a something year. But for now, I’m just going to sit. Bath running, fire roaring, an overflowing to-read pile and a snoozing dog. Life is hidden in the small things.