Looking back at 2019, I don’t know exactly how to feel. I was promoted. I got a new best friend. After spending 9 months in the suburbs 40 minutes out from DC and almost a year in the slums, I finally moved to a neighborhood full of young hot people with a Sweet Green and 2 Starbucks. I was admitted into one of D.C.’s social clubs. For the first time in my adult life, I consistently exercised. I went to Martinique.
But I was also disappointed and frustrated in literally every aspect of my life. I covered for a colleague with a decade of experience on me and the biggest clients at my company for 3 months while she was on maternity leave. After months of progress and major wins, my biggest client was floundering, and nothing I did to try to get them back on track was working. I let go of one of the most important friendships in my life. I’ve lived in this area for over 2 years, and I still feel lost. I put myself out there again and again, telling myself I had to “risk it to get the biscuit” and got my feelings hurt again and again.
I could go on and on about all of the highs and lows of this year, but I’m not sure how helpful that would be. Because we all have such different insecurities and struggles — as well as our own strengths and blessings.
Looking back on the year, there are specific things I know I want to change — and clear, actionable steps I can take to change them. But there are also things that overwhelm me because they seem so out of my control. And it sucks. Because my entire worldview is predicated on the belief that hard work will solve most problems. And that’s true. But those few problems that hard work can’t solve are BIG, significant problems. They’re problems that I think about every day. And the idea that I have to just wait to be lucky drives me crazy.
When I think about the goals I set at the beginning of 2019 and the person I am going into 2020, I think this year I have to be more intentional. I have to push myself to set goals that I am constantly evaluating and measuring. I have to make myself uncomfortable. And I have to actively seek gratitude in the seasons it comes less naturally to me, and as I wait for luck in the places that hard work doesn’t work.
I can’t think of a single year in my adult life that I feel entirely positively or negatively about. The year I got fired was the year I got hired. It was also the year I went to my first music festival, moved 400 miles away from home, got my heart doused in gasoline and lit on fire.
Some years are bound to be better than others, but no year is going to be perfect. And the things that make a “good” year can feel just as out of your control as that small minority of important problems you can’t solve with hard work. All you can do is your best and hope for the best.
I think we all tend to think that if we can go to the gym this many times, or start that side hustle, or cross this threshold, we’ll have a “good” year. But that’s not necessarily true. Of course, that’s not to say that we shouldn’t be trying to improve ourselves — but the best things and worst things in life often come without warning, rhyme or reason.
I’m sure in 2020 I’ll find myself just as upset and exhausted and fed up in 2019 and 2018 and 2017. There are choices I’m making that I hope will minimize that, and set me up for success. But I think the low points in a year are what put the high points in perspective, and help us appreciate them for all they’re worth.