With Anticipation: 2016

A lot can happen in a year.

In fact, exactly one year ago, I was coming off of three months of living in China, and traveling from Seattle to San Antonio in planes, trains, and automobiles. Seriously, at one point, I was on a train from Portland to Los Angeles for 30 hours. It was…long, to say the least. And now, here I sit, in a coffee shop in Washington, D.C., startled by my current reality, and anxious for the year ahead.

2016 is upon us.

And as we prepare for a new year, and before I charge you with goals weighing heavy on my heart,  I ask only this of you:

Please do not shame those individuals who are setting goals, needing change, or hoping for something new. Support them. Push them. Remind them that they are capable, and that they are brave.

This, above else, can be your gift to them in the new year.

Sure, we know the folks whose goals are copy/pasted into each new year, and, of course, there are the goals that we know are physically, financially, and seemingly impossible. As you wade through the dissonance, I’m asking you to see no boundaries. I am asking you to live in this new year as unapologetically and free from fear as possible.

And as I prepare for my own new year, I am pausing on the idea of what it means for me to be unapologetic and free from fear.

I am pausing of the idea of letting my heart be light.

In doing so, I’ve come to terms with the following goals, beliefs, and hopes, and I implore you to join  me on this journey into 2016:

Remember birthdays.
Few things have felt better than the love I received on my 30th birthday. Whether it is Facebook, or just the general do-good office mate dropping off a treat or surprise, the fact that so many people went out of their way to wish me love and light on my special day was overwhelming and inspiring. Be unconditional. Pay this forward. Remember people’s birthdays, and wish them well. And above all else, spread joy.

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Send snail mail.
Earlier this year, I had a friend who sent me a pack of cards, asking me to share love with someone via snail mail. Whereas writing takes a bit of extra time, and the US Postal Service requires $0.49 more than an email might require, I have found and felt so much joy as a result of tiny treasures received from a distance. Do more of this. Put pen to pad. Thank someone. Surprise someone. Remind someone you are there.

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Protest.
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything, and all of that. There is a woman who stands on the corner of my block once a week, holding a pad of paper with various pleas written passionately across the page. Embody this spirit. Get involved, civically engage, give a whole bunch of damns. Challenge injustice, and speak up when you know something isn’t right. Once you know, you can’t say that you don’t.

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Love hard.
I recently filled out some paperwork at my doctor’s office, and when I got to page two, I was prompted to provide an Emergency Contact. For years, I used a roommate or one of my coworkers, but this time was a bit different. I sat there and stared at the paper for a long pause, debating the moment I was about to have (“They can always be your insignificant other until you choose to make them your significant other,” a friend’s advice resounded in my brain). I sketched his name quickly, and attempted to move on. Before I could get past the need for his phone number and address, I was then asked, “Relationship to Emergency Contact.” This is where it got weird. Without hesitation, I simply wrote the word, “Partner.” And it scares me every day. Find this love. Bathe in this love. You deserve it.

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Eat the extra bowl of cereal.
…or the extra doughnut. Hell, eat the whole box of doughnuts. My relationship with food, as dysfunctional as it has been over the years, is one that I think about every single day. It’s no secret that I have waded through years of body image struggles, and even in my young adulthood, I am still incredibly hard on myself for how I perceive myself to appear in the mirror. And again, I am vowing to let this go. Please do the same. Don’t beat yourself up over a second serving, or a buffet extravaganza. Be smart and be healthy, but also allow yourself to decide what that means and how it plays into your life. Be in a good place. Look into the mirror, and shout to yourself, “YOU GO, ME!”

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Get on listservs that matter.
Specifically, find a listserv that inspires you. For example, one of my partner’s coworkers (yep, my partner) has this phenomenal daily newsletter where she emails readers an important historical and influential woman that we should all know. And deeper than listservs, construct your social media in a way that reaches an audience that both challenges you and builds you up. Find super creative folks who will introduce impacting and powerful news, culture, and content into your life. Don’t completely erase those who disagree with you, but be sure to take care of yourself in a way that allows you to experience people who look like, think like, and believe like you.

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Fail hard.
My departure from China was unexpected and earlier than I had planned. I was on a, choose-your-own-adventure, kind of journey, and often look back and feel as though my time overseas ultimately resulted in failure. And while I endured the dissonance of difference and transition in a way I could not have planned for, I also experienced those same feelings during the mourning and healing processes shortly after I arrived back in the United States. And I am continuing to seek that clarity. “It’ll get better,” and, “Things will be okay,” were not relevant to me in those post-experience reflections, though, I ultimately landed on my feet. See past these arguments. It may get better, but it also may still sting for awhile. All you can do is focus on rising above the trauma. Roll around a bit, stumble. Tumble. But eventually, when you’re ready, rise above.

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2016 is upon us.

Where do you go from here?

Goals will be set, lives will change, shit might stay the same.

I turned 30 this year. I moved three times. I failed. I loved. I’m loving, and I’m certainly still failing. And all of this is ok.

I turned 30 this year, and in a severe twist of fate, I found peace. I found hope. And I’m letting these new understandings wash over me.

I hope, in anticipation of this next, new, year, you’ll consider the same.

2016-bound,

Michael

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Remember birthdays.
Send snail mail.
Protest.
Love hard.
Eat the extra bowl of cereal.
Get on listservs that matter.
Fail hard.

4 thoughts on “With Anticipation: 2016

  1. I love you. You should be so proud of the human you are and how you choose to use the space and influence you hold in this world. I’m in your corner and more excited for 2016 now because of your words.

    Liked by 1 person

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