2017: The Rubbish Year That Was

I didn’t want to look back on 2017 because it hurt too much. Trying to reflect on the past year is a lot like poking at the edges of a wound that’s begun to scab over but isn’t healing well: every time I pick at it, it feels a little worse but also looks like it might be finally getting better.

So here we are.

I like winning. Winning makes me feel good about myself, my universe, and everything. In 2017 I started questioning what I was really good at and good for, since it seemed like I wasn’t winning at very much. Life, relationships, career… I found myself feeling like an abject loser in areas where I’d only ever been good, if not great.

Because I’m someone who’s expected to win at things – or at least be really good at them – there came a few low points in 2017 when it felt like I was disappointing everyone. And maybe I was.
Many times I wished real life were more like video games, where I could go back to the last save point and try a different course of action than the one I actually took. Alas – time moves in one direction only.

I think you’re meant to start a new year full of optimism but right now I’m just trying to figure out how to feel a little less defeated. So, in the spirit of save points: if I could go back 365 days, this is what I’d tell myself.

  • Don’t take any of your relationships for granted in any way. There is no coming back from this. Or, if there is, I haven’t nailed it yet.
  • You’ll often have to choose between doing the right thing and doing the honest thing. There is no correct choice. Whichever way you go, there will be fallout. But with the people who count, always pick the honest thing. The fallout will be worth it.
  • Some days, picking your battles literally means picking which item(s) on your to-do list you can most afford to screw up. Your health and your family do not belong on the shortlist.
  • Speaking of health: you are no longer young enough to power through every ailment. This is serious. You will save yourself a great deal of time, money and grief if you listen to your body when it’s not in a good place.
  • You know this already, but you can’t make everyone happy all of the time. (Refer to the tale of the old man and the donkey if you need a refresher.) Try to make your peace with this, because (a) it just doesn’t get any easier and (b) you were never that great with people to begin with.

I don’t expect 2018 to cut me any slack, so I’m just going to rely on the perfection that is hindsight, and try to approach the next year with clearer perspective.

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