this was the year that I sang in front of people into a microphone. this was the year that I got my first B in college, had to sit out of a dance because it was too loud, and cooked breakfast with one of my friends the day he asked me out (and I said yes!). this was the year that I flew out to L.A. for a whole week, worked my first hockey game, and lived in a dorm with the best shenanigans ever. I watched my friends grow up with me into even more incredible people.
this was the year that I learned (and relearned again and again) to let go of old things that were beginning to hurt. this was the year that, in the spring, I finally learned to look up at the sun and laugh at all the color again. this was the year that I stopped cringing any time something good happened, waiting for the fallout or crisis to happen in another area of life.
I think a lot of teenagers live on angst for a variety of reasons. I learned to see more than that, in this last year of being a teenager. it is one thing to cling on with a death grip to the truth that God is good, but it is another thing to breathe, and taste it instead. I feel even sadder about the state of the world than ever before, but less afraid of painful things than I have ever been. and maybe that is what trust looks like in this world: facing each day as it comes and allowing for healing while I walk.
I’m a little less afraid of conflict than I used to be, and a little more able to ask for help instead of shrinking out of a desire to be “non-inconvenient” (my boyfriend has been reminding me of that one). I’m more sure of myself and my ideas and dreams: instead of hiding them, I’m learning to pursue them and follow the adventure. I’m learning to say what I need, instead of expecting people to read my mind. and I’m learning to maybe, slowly, be kind to myself, too.
this was the year that I worked my first office job, where time is told by the plunging temperatures (I served as my boyfriend’s jeep’s air conditioning most of the summer). this was the year that I was a bridesmaid for the first time, and spent more than a few days laughing and waking up entirely too early from joy throughout the months.
this year I sat under a pavilion in a thunderstorm and grinned as it rolled in. this year I’ve learned to weep at the beauty of being loved as just as I am, just as I was, and just as I will be. this was the year I became a little more Real.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams,
this was the year that I started re-editing the first full book that I wrote, drove up to dahlonega and amicalola falls with my guy for a day trip, and realized how awesome being home with my siblings truly is. this was the year it rained all during camping, and that I saw old friends. this was the year my dad made me cry all over the thanksgiving dinner table, I had my second adventurous car experience, and went to my first Oscars party.
this is the year I learned how I truly rest: deep one-on-one conversations, putting words and poem-thoughts verbally to nature, and artistic things. it’s how I process, what makes me feel close to God, and often ties closely to praying, for me.
this past semester is maybe the hardest I’ve had yet. my brain was stretched, commuting eats up time, and sometimes most of your professors assume that you must be taking just their class. sometimes, you need to cling to really good songs and really good friends who show you how much you are loved by your Creator, and the fact that He is still moving even when you cannot see Him.
I’m writing this in advance by several weeks (okay, well, two-ish; I have a party to attend and a football game to observe), and yet the words to sum up the year won’t congeal. every year has different flavors and nuances of the same word: family. friends. learning. words. art. creating. I suppose, if I were allowed to choose a phrase for this year, it might go more like this:
all the lessons of laughing and crying, all the days of sunburn and emails and paper-writing, those all are vastly different in color and tune. there are moments of laughing hilariously in the library, crying with joy during a concert or crying because of broken people. the sun rose and set over and over again, every day, and I did not stand and smile at it every day. that is a sadness, and yet the sun was still there (even on the stormy days of this fall). there are moments when you have to rush into the pounding rain, but I think a big part of life is trusting in the shelter that’s already there from something that sounds so still and small, but is bigger than the storm.
here’s to the storms and weariness of next year, as well as the days full of rippling sunlight. may we be able to laugh and love in the face of fear, because it cannot hold us. the thunder and rain are already temporal, and death has nothing on us. ianus is a door.
may we dance. may we live. may we rejoice. may we grow to be more honest, more Real, and more like Christ.