It's finally December--and I don't want to be a person who wishes the days away, but I cannot believe we are in the final month of 2016. Naturally, we all start reflecting--for better or for worse. I'm excited to enjoy everything the end of the year has to bring, and I know now that I can never predict or prepare for what the next year will have to offer. All I can do is take the lessons I have learned and promise myself to remember them as I continue this walk through life.
This year has been a journey, it's taught me a lot of things and defined a lot of things for me.
Resentment: Bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.
You learn the meaning of the word resentment when you're trying to move forward with any type of relationship--family, friends, romantic partners--but any time things get bad you start lamenting on all of the hurt you're trying to grow beyond. Resentment is a burden for anyone, in any situation. You can't heal, you can't grow, and a situation will never heal as long as resentment is in the mix.
I learned both the good and the bad sides of resentment this year. The first time I recognized the bad side came during a relationship I work hard to mend and maintain in my life. In the middle of any argument, somehow, some way, we're bringing up things that happened 5 years ago. 5 years. The second time I recognized the bad side was during an awful family situation that I still can honestly say I have a lot of resentment about. It weighs me down because I'd give anything to let it go, I just haven't figured out how quite yet. But the better side of resentment, the lighter side, is release.
Release: Allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free.
You learn the meaning of the word release, unfortunately, only after you've been caged in by negative feelings. Whether you realize it or not, negative feelings, bitterness--it only holds you back. At some point you have to stop being angry at people for hurting you, especially when they are people you have left in your past.
I learned the meaning of the word release the day I was face to face with the boy who cheated on me and broke my heart, and I didn't feel angry. It had been months, we had not spoken nor seen each other, and when I saw him all I did was smile and say hello. I wasn't mad anymore, I wasn't spiteful, I didn't want to slap him. I realized in that moment that I had grown past that heartache--and I was released.
Worry: To give way to anxiety or unease; allow one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
You learn the meaning of worry when you sit around and think yourself into awful moods about scenarios and situations that haven't even happened or are completely and totally far-fetched. You also learn the meaning of worry when you find yourself being upset about the inevitable, like death. What's productive about sitting around worrying about who you may lose, or when you'll lose them--instead of enjoying the time that you have?
I learned the meaning of worry when I learned I had anxiety. I'd made such an awful habit of worrying that I developed something that was out of my control in some ways. Some days my anxiety is truly out of my control, and some days I can trace the thought pattern that leads me to my most anxious moments.
Depression: Feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
You learn the meaning of depression when your doctor actually tells you that you are battling depression. You realize it's not a word to toss around when you're just a little sad, and you realize it's something bigger than you ever understood. You learn the meaning of depression when you feel so many negative things and can't pinpoint why, and when it's sometimes hard to see the sun on some of the brightest days. I'm not sure depression can actually be understood from the outside looking in--but it comes in many different forms and affects all kinds of people.
I learned the meaning of depression when my doctor told me I was battling depression. For a long time, I felt like it would beat me. It was heavy and it was dark. It was hard to wake up in the morning and harder to fall asleep at night. I learned the meaning of depression when I couldn't even leave my house without listening to Rise Up by Andra Day. But then I decided to only allow depression to be a small part of me and never define me.
Joy: A feeling of great pleasure and happiness
You learn the meaning of the word joy in those moments when time seems to stand still, when you don't have a worry in the world and you can feel your heart smile. You feel joy in those moments when you feel immovable, when everything is exactly how you want it to be in that moment - and no one can take it away from you. You've got to find these moments, and you have got to cherish them.
I learned the meaning of joy when I walked around Disney World with my family for Spring Break. I learned the meaning of joy when I sang along with Beyoncé to Love On Top next to my mother. I learned the meaning of joy when I saw my grandmother's reaction to her surprise 70th birthday party. I learned the meaning of joy when my parents gifted me a new car. I learned the meaning of joy when I got accepted into my program at SVSU. I learned the meaning of joy on a bus full of people I love for my 21st birthday. I learned the meaning of joy celebrating my birthday (again) with my family in Detroit. I learned the meaning of joy celebrating my birthday (again) at Disney World with my brother. I learned the meaning of joy the day I got to rap along with Kanye West at his concert.
Discover: Find (something or someone) unexpectedly or in the course of a search.
You learn the meaning of discovery when you venture off into new territory and learn something new. You can learn new things about life, about other people, and about yourself. You usually end up discovering things after a period of feeling lost.
I learned the meaning of discover when I discovered all this potential in myself that I didn't have my eyes opened wide enough to see. I learned the meaning of discover when I applied for a job on a whim, that I felt I wouldn't be a good fit for. I learned the meaning of discover when I branched out and made new friends. I learned the meaning of discover when I stopped staying in and being anti-social. I discovered a whole new me, this year.
Support: A thing that bears the weight of something or keeps it upright.
You learn the meaning of support when things become too heavy for you to hold up by yourself. If you're anything like me, you try to take on the world alone. You hide your pain, hold in your pain, disguise your pain--but all that does is make it heavier. You learn the meaning of support when you fall, and you don't have to help yourself back up.
I learned the meaning of support when I first got diagnosed with depression. I got to a point where I really couldn't imagine taking it on alone--and I didn't have to. My brother flew 1,000 miles to tell me I didn't have to. My mom came down the hall and shared my bed to tell me I didn't have to. My dad made sure to sit me down and tell me I didn't have to. My Uncle made a point to text me every single day to tell me I didn't have to. And all of a sudden, things didn't feel so heavy anymore.
Therapy: Treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.
You learn the meaning of therapy when you find things that make you feel like things are going to be okay. Of course, there are therapists, but they are not the only form of therapy. Therapy is anything that makes you feel a sense of healing. It's a way to release negative feelings and embrace positive ones.
I learned the meaning of therapy when I started writing poems in my journal. I learned the meaning of therapy when I started making a point to go on car rides. I learned the meaning of therapy when I started spending time talking to God instead of taking a single moment to pray. I learned the meaning of therapy when I found comfort in doing things alone. I found a lot of methods of healing, because I had a lot of healing to do this year.
Friendship: A state of mutual trust and support between allied nations.
You learn the meaning of friendship when your friends start feeling more like family. You learn the meaning of friendship when you grow older, and see yourself change along with other people. You learn the meaning of friendship when your entire spirit lifts just because of the presence of certain people.
I learned the meaning of friendship when my best friend moved to Grand Rapids and it strangely strengthened our relationship. I learned the meaning of friendship when a friendship of mine hit a rough patch, but whenever I hit a rough patch that friend was there for me regardless of the terms we were on. I learned the meaning of friendship because my friends came through for me tougher than ever this year especially, any time I needed them. I learned the meaning of the word friendship when I sat back and looked at my village, and could immediately recognized how much I am loved.
Faith: Complete trust or confidence in someone or something; strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion.
You learn the meaning of faith when you stop walking by sight. You learn what faith is when you don't know how things can possibly work out, when you feel so low and you don't know how to make it better--but you can't silence the belief that it will get better. Faith is trusting a process that you don't even understand.
Faith gets a new meaning for me day after day after day. I learn the meaning of faith on my bad days; I learn the meaning of faith on my good days. I learn the meaning of faith when I'm happy, I learn the meaning of faith when I'm sad. I learned the meaning of faith when I started asking God for things instead of trying to get them myself. I learned the meaning of faith every time I wanted to doubt the process but couldn't allow myself to do it. Any and every time I'm feeling low, God puts a song right in my path to let me know I'll be okay. I wouldn't have survived 2016 without the music--I wouldn't have made it without faith.
Pain: Physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury.
You learn the meaning of pain when you stub your toe, or burn yourself. But this year I learned to validate a different type of pain. You learn the meaning of emotional pain when your heart aches so much you wish that you had stubbed your toe or burned yourself so the type of pain you are in makes sense.
This year I learned pain comes in waves, for different reasons. I learned that I can think myself into painful situations, and I can subject myself to painful situations. I learned that people I love can throw me into seas of pain with actions or with words. I also learned that all pain is temporary. I learned that John Green wasn't lying when he said pain demands to be felt. But the best thing I learned about pain this year--it is survivable.
Forgiveness: Stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.
You learn the meaning of forgiveness in two ways. The type of forgiveness that allows you to leave situations behind, and the type of forgiveness powerful enough to make you try again. No matter how you spin it--forgiveness isn't a trait for weak people. Resentment is. Forgiveness takes strength and forgiveness takes power. And the only person who can tell you who to forgive, how to forgive, why to forgive--any of that, it's yourself.
This year I learned to forgive myself for a lot of things I felt that I didn't handle the right way. I also learned the importance of forgiving other people: for big things and for small things, and for things they do intentionally or unintentionally. I also learned I'm capable of forgiving things I once thought were unforgivable. I've even forgiven myself for being too forgiving, because I don't think it's anything I'll ever be able to change.
Resilience: The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
With all of these things combined--you learn resilience. You learn that you are resilient--when you silence worry, when you heal pain, when you have faith, and when you discover your bounds of support.
Ethereal: Extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world.
With all of these things combined, I learned a word that describes me. Because I've learned the meaning of all these things, because I've been able to define them for myself. Because I've learned the beauty in change, and in loving wholeheartedly. The way all these words entwine with who I am make me feel delicate, but strong, in a way that I don't believe this world can fully understand.
So thank you, 2016, for defining me, for me, for now. Take the time to reflect on what 2016 defined for you.