New year, new me!
New year, same old me.
On New Years Eve, Evan and I observe the (German?) tradition of leaving coins outside throughout the night to symbolize leaving your troubles behind. Bringing the coins inside on New Years Day symbolizes bringing money and happiness into your home throughout the year. Four years ago, when we first observed this tradition, I had just left my job as a teacher and took an 80% pay cut so that I wasn’t crying on my way home from work everyday and giving myself a stomach ulcer. I had also just moved to Pittsburgh, so I was feeling the burden of an empty wallet.
It would have been nice if my coins on the back porch had multiplied overnight. Obviously, they did not.
But observing this tradition this year, I realized that every year I’ve observed this tradition, I’ve received a nice raise or moved on to a higher paying job.
If I was a superstitious person…I’m not a superstitious person.
For four years, I have fought for happiness, meaning, balance, truth, love, purpose, and health. I have FOUGHT – struggled, cried, fallen, risen – but I have consistently gotten closer to my goals. I have learned to regret nothing, appreciate everything, learn from failure, work hard for and absorb success, and most of all, to always feel blessed because I am blessed. My life is nothing like what I thought it would be like ten years ago, five years ago…heck, even two years ago. But it’s my life and I love it and that’s what matters.
If I was superstitious, I’d forget about all of my hard work. I’d forget the struggle. I’d forget the pain, fear, anxiety, doubt, self-hatred, etc. I’d reinvent myself as a whole new person because I wouldn’t want to remember that struggle. But in forgetting the bad, I’d also lose all the joy, success, love, and hope I’ve experienced.
So I don’t want a new year, new me. I like the old me. It’s gotten me here, and I really like here. I have a wonderful job in a field that challenges me and gives me purpose. I’m engaged to be married to a wonderful man who loves me (I really don’t know why), cooks for me (and even cleans up!), doesn’t put the toilet seat down but really does have the best intentions, and has let me figure out who I really am and how to get there without wavering in his support. I am blessed with two parents who have always given me the best advice, let me make mistakes, let me figure out how to fix the mistake, and been there when I really couldn’t dig myself out of the hole of mistakes I had created. And myriad friends, acquaintances, etc. who always have my back and know how to keep me sane.
I have a seriously beautiful life, and it’s all because I’ve struggled and fought on.
We get so caught up in trying to reinvent ourselves. We are a future-oriented society, and that’s great, but sometimes you have to see your past to see how bright your present has become.
As you embark on a new journey in this new year (new decade, yikes!), keep your old self, but make it better. Make your resolutions, your goals, your intentions – whatever you prefer. Change your habits, change your life, but don’t forget how you got here in the first place. Even if your “here” isn’t great, it still matters. From here, you can go anywhere.
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt