What a year it has been. We all get nostalgic towards the end of the year – recapping highlights, low moments, looking back at the lessons we’ve learnt and how we’ve grown.
This is my biggest takeaway from 2013: Stability is overrated.
Growing up, we’ve been conditioned to think that there are certain pathways to success. Go to school, get a degree, get a full-time job that pays relatively well, meet a nice partner, fall in love (or apply for a flat), get married (or just get registered), have children, and one day fade into nothingness.
My generation rebels against that notion every day. Some of us are success stories – straying away from the traditional notions of “success” by going to arts or sports schools, embarking on non-linear career paths such as music, entrepreneurship, or teaching. Some of us struggle to find our passion. Some of us struggle to translate our passions into paid work.
Then there’s the notion of #yolo – You Only Live Once.
So we take risks. We jet off on year-long expeditions to “discover ourselves”. We decide to take the path less trodden. Or we simply wait for the right time to invest in what truly makes us feel alive.
That’s what I’ve tried to do this year. After graduating from university in 2012, I decided to stay in Melbourne for the foreseeable future to figure out my options. I’ve worked in the communications industry as a public relations consultant, moved from lifestyle to news to work as a property journalist, and stepped up to become the production editor at Meld Magazine.
I moved churches late last year, and started volunteering in kids’ church – much to my friends’ surprise. I was never one to fawn over children, but now I can’t imagine most Sundays without spending time with them.
Along the way, I’ve often wondered if I made the right choice to stay – but I would not have traded this year for the world.
If you want to chase your dreams, be prepared for your world to fall apart.
This year, I’ve felt the ache of being away from my family when they needed me most. I’ve often wallowed in self-doubt about my abilities and choices. I’ve spent the last 12 months putting myself in a mould, trying to understand why I’m not like “other people”.
Steven Furtick once said,
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
My behind-the-scenes hasn’t been pretty. I’ve cried, wrestled with the idea of packing up and going home, had my heart broken, been let go from a job that was paying the bills, and received countless rejection letters.
But my highlight reel has been pretty spectacular, and I wonder why I don’t focus on that more often.
I’ve made new friends, kept in touch with old ones, laughed over glasses of wine and games of mahjong, been employed by Australia’s largest digital publishing company, and am serving in one of Australia’s largest evangelical churches. I wake up and get to put my words on a page (one of my blog posts went spectacularly viral); I get to be behind a microphone almost every Sunday; and I am friends with pretty incredible, generous, loving people.
When my world falls apart, the very things I fall back on are not my job, bank balance, or dresses in my wardrobe.
The lack thereof of stability this year has taught me just that. Go back to basics. Remember what is truly important. Focus on the good stuff.
And it’s okay if your world falls apart.
It reminds me that a year isn’t measured by results, Key Performance Indicators, a paycheck, or your relationship status. Neither is it measured by the number of times you’ve gotten drunk, said the things you shouldn’t have, or the times you had your heart broken.
Broken things heal. And I think the measure of a year is how we heal.
Whatever kind of year we’ve had, we’ve all struggled in one way or another. Unemployment, crazy nights and days at the office, epic fights with your family or significant other, health scares… the list could go on.
But it’s when you step back and look back, one realises that in the midst of all this, how have you recovered?
It’s okay if you’re battered and bruised. It’s okay if you’re still fighting. It’s okay if you’re exhausted. It’s okay if you haven’t recovered.
Tomorrow’s a brand new start.
New mercies await.
Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s wishing you a blessed year ahead – full of laughter, joy, friendships, and love. May you have enough to weather the storms, enough faith for the dark days, enough hope for the bleak, enough love for the empty.
Here’s some love from Melbourne. x