New Year, Same Me
That being said, I’ve never been one to make a New Year’s resolution in the traditional sense. The ball dropped, fireworks popped, ladies on the Nextdoor app complained, and the world went on spinning as it always did, so I thought. There’s been a different energy in the air lately, like old dust has been kicked up. I think it has everything to do with the dawn of a new decade. Many of my friends posted funny pictures of the “decades challenge.” I saw images of people I knew even my memories had forgotten. They recounted careers being launched, children being born, and, most importantly, pillars of their dreams being erected.
I thought about the girl from a decade ago. Then I thought about the little girl two decades ago. One is ever out in front of me, gaining wrinkles and grey hair. The other I shelved many years ago, gaining tarnish and grey dust. I can’t help but think one of those versions of my former self would have a tinge of disappointment. Don’t get me wrong; I’m proud of what I have accomplished over the past decade, particularly my little family. I have two beautiful, healthy boys and a loving husband. The three of them will be the pride of my life no matter what accolades may come my way.
Twenty-Year-Challenge Doesn’t Have the Same Ring
In 2010, I was 24 years old and had already made the defining choices to set myself on a path for where I am now. Things happened to me over those ten years, not me to them. In short, there wasn’t quite as much twisting and turning in my decade story as the 2010’s curtain dropped. Two decades ago, however, I foresaw a slightly different future for myself.
At 14, I carried a frayed spiral notebook with me everywhere I went. I pretended to take notes in class, but I was really writing stories. I could fill a page in a matter of minutes – front and back. This habit had been going on for a while. I remember my first experience with articulating my dreams what in 6th grade. We were asked to say what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I emphatically announced I would write novels.
That young girl, with her sparkling lip gloss and ungroomed eyebrows, would have also said she wanted a husband, children, house … the setting that is ingrained in us from an early age. So why didn’t she? Why didn’t I stand in front of my classmates and announce all the things I have now? I never didn’t want them. Perhaps those things were a given. Perhaps I just wanted to be a writer more.
High school came and went with its own challenges and triumphs. Same can be said for college which had many more lows than highs. I abandoned the notion I was meant to be a writer for things that came with much more practicality somewhere along the way but never stopped loving it. I never intended the shelf I put that desire on to be out of reach; either I shrunk or the ceiling grew.
No one tells this to middle schoolers, but the dreams we chart like stars as children don’t account for the obstacles we may face as adults — death, addiction, financial woes, heartbreak. Dreams evolve in the absence of idyllic circumstances and take on new, realistic forms. That doesn’t make them any less shiny or important. I love my life and am proud of the hard work it took to get to where I am. Still, I can see that frizzy-haired girl with her nose buried in lined paper smiling at something that only she and her characters know about.
So with my most pride of my life at my side (usually asking for a snack), I resolve to not make a resolution this year. I have much bigger ideas in mind. I want to make a promise. I promise to dust off the desires of that 14-year-old girl and give them a shot one more time. I promise to let my personal shortcomings and past struggles be touchstones rather than stumbling blocks. I promise to put away a childish scoff when others talk about their desires and fully embrace them with everything I have. Finally, I encourage anyone else reading this “first step” of mine to look at whatever is collecting dust on your own younger shelves (yes, that was intentional), brush it off, and let it shine.