I think most of us can agree that 2017 was a rough year. Starting with a controversial presidential election sure set all of us into a tailspin, making for a rough foundation for us all to fall back on. I know 2017 started out rough by having a terrible semester at college, making the first half of the year a really muted experience. This summer, I tried reinventing myself only to find the same realities of the spring semester come to haunt this fall as well.
This past summer, I worked at a coffee shop in my hometown trying to live the "Rachel Green-working-at-Central-Perk method of starting over." Although, I do have to say my drinks were tasty unlike her inability to brew a good pot of coffee. I was running away from long-term issues with myself, a terrible semester at my college, a break-up with the man I intended on marrying, and the lack of desire to come to terms with who I really was. This all boiled down to my long-term depression, and much of my summer was spent with the only coping mechanism I have ever really learned: avoidance.
I have always felt that most college-aged kids run from their lives in similar ways, except using drugs and alcohol to cope whereas I never was interested in such activities. Even if I tried to be like everyone else, I felt that the light inside of me was dimmed by doing so. I had an experimental party phase for two weeks, of which looking in the mirror made my stomach churn. I foolishly thought because I did not like to party I was more mature: someone who was an old soul, simply because she preferred nights at home in her bed writing confessional poems and these articles hoping to get noticed someday. It turns out, I am simply an old soul because I just am, but that doesn't mean that I don't do a fair share of avoiding my problems. It's my specialty, actually.
Coffee Planet in Ballston Spa, New York, during a rainstorm in July 2017.
Last week, I went back to visit the coffee shop. Decorated with Christmas lights and garland, with the windows spray painted like dusted snow, a Christmas tree in the front of the main window, and an uncanny scent of coffee; I took a trip in time back to this past summer. The girl behind the counter would have no idea what would happen between then and now, or how all of the truths that she thought she was learning would become falsehoods. The temporary truths she learned helped her get through the "in between" summer: the one in between her fantasy life and the reality that would come.
Coffee Planet decorated for the holiday season in December 2017.
At times, I find myself yearning to feel the sense of naivete I felt all of the last summer, but I know that reality would awaken me sooner rather than later. There is a seemingly obvious "point of no return" that comes with an awakening: once you have seen the truth, you cannot return to the place you once were. Just as Eve picked the divine fruit in the garden of Eden, I opened my eyes to the brewing currents of change that were occurring for the last year. I was unhappy. A shorter haircut, a new job, and a heightened ego weren't enough to mask my truthful unhappiness.
Pandora once opened her box out of human curiosity, instead of living in blissful innocence; this, her and Eve have in common, as we all do. Humans are drawn to truth, trying to self-actualize as Maslow calls it, but in the process, we are exposed to so many evils too. Truth, while pure in its virtue, is a double-edged sword. To see beauty is to see pain. To see the truth, you see evils. The yin-yang relationship of truth, evil, and all things surround us if only you can see it. We live outside Eden's gates, now exposed to all of the things paradise lacks.
In the world we live in, it may take hitting your lowest point in order for you to reach your highest. These low points or reality checks show us how the bad continues to persist in the world we live in, disguised as divorce, murder, crime, and all of the things that paint humanity in a negative light. But while these exist, so does the good. I hit my low this fall, but the love of my life reemerged into my reality at the time I needed him most. The Universe dictated the timing to be when I was at my lowest, a blessing that definitely makes the hard times survivable. Near-death experiences, re-kindled romances, everyday heroes, and the survival of internal wars inside of us shows that the good will always exist as long as the bad.
I would hate to say that the good outweighs the bad because I truly believe there is an equal amount of both in the world. How you respond to the terrible things that happen in your life, however, dictates your own reality. By choosing to see the cracks in your heart as beautiful, envisioning each filled with gold like Japanese kintsugi art, you will continuously learn to see the beautiful good in the world around you.
Japanese Kitsugi Art focuses on making the broken parts of the pottery beautiful.
I write this article as much for all of you as I do for myself. 2018 is the year to learn the balance of good and bad, taking our negative experiences and learning from them; in turn, creating more positive moments in our reality. Whatever we think soon becomes the reality we live, so this New Year I challenge you and myself to bloom into the versions of ourselves we wanted to be all along.
Welcome, 2018. We're ready for you.