2017 could easily be the most life-changing year I’ve had yet. From quitting my job in New York, backpacking around Asia and the Middle East, moving into a van, pursuing my passion of writing as a career, and entering into a new relationship–it has not been uneventful.
Shortly after last new years, I saw a therapist for an “emergency” therapy session. She was a stranger who entered my world for only an hour, but left an impact that has already lasted a year.
For fifty minutes, I emotionally vomited all over her couch, barely stopping for a breath. I was at my breaking point, and I had exhausted myself trying to discuss my predicament with the friends and family I felt comfortable exposing my secrets to. I needed a purely unbiased perspective, and I needed it fast, because I felt my happiness and sanity slipping away bit by bit each day.
Upon concluding my saga, and laying out all the relevant details, I stared at her in anticipation, desperately waiting for a solution. The question at hand was: “Should I quit my job, even though I don’t have any job prospects lined up, or a real plan for what to do next?”
She looked me in the eyes and reassured me I was sane despite my dramatic narration and my own growing suspicion that I might not be. Then she asked me a question. “Have you ever failed to get back on your feet after a big life change?”
I thoroughly sorted through memories, realizing that no obstacle had been so great that I couldn’t surmount and bounce back from.
She continued, “It seems to me that you have a really unhealthy work environment and you are in a bad situation that you don’t have the power to change. So your options are to leave a bad situation and try something new that will potentially turn into something great, or stay in a bad situation that shows no signs of getting better.”
I sat stunned. I knew my options before entering the room, but she had regurgitated them to me so simplified and clearly.
I left with an immediate solution, but clarity on what to do next, came slowly over the course of the year.
It began to take shape over a 2-month long backpacking trip around Asia where I found my inner peace and began to heal. I started acknowledging and then letting go of suppressed anger and resentment lingering around past traumas. I came back to Arizona to sort out my next steps and save money, and ended up reconnecting with loved ones. By the time I converted a cargo van into my new mobile home, my priorities had evolved, and I realized that I was capable of so much more than I ever imagined.
I could easily write an emotionally driven and dramatic novel on the adventure that was this year (and I just might), but for the purposes of this post, I wanted to keep it relatively short and to the point, because too much has happened to cover thoroughly in just one blog post.
The last two months alone have been an emotional rollercoaster. I pressed pause on vanlife and came home to Arizona for a cousin’s wedding. I ended up sticking around for a friend’s funeral, and then to help my mom with her political campaign. I eventually flew to New York to pack up my things and bring them back to my mom’s cabin in Arizona. In the end, I managed to consolidate my life and subsequent meaningful possessions into a closet.
Somewhere between all that chaos, I fell in love. Unexpectedly, and against my best efforts.
I spent the Summer and Fall wandering happily solo around the Pacific Northwest in my van, certain I was exactly where I was meant to be, and basking in the realization that my risks were starting to pay off.
So, I was caught off guard, when a good friend of 10 years confessed his romantic feelings for me. I was hesitant to admit I felt something too. I took extra care to fight my feelings, because they seemed contradictory towards my independence and freedom that I had sacrificed so much to achieve. Beyond contradictions, the timing seemed inconvenient. I had big plans for my solo van life journey, and I had found genuine happiness alone.
But the more time we spent together reminiscing on the past, analyzing our friendship, and imagining our potential travel-filled future together, the more the hopeless romantic in me, let myself feel it all.
The beautiful thing about dating a friend, is that they already fit into your life. The comfortability, chemistry, and compatibility already exist. Once you sprinkle a little romance into that equation, wonderful things are possible.
Who knows what the future will bring, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take a risk on something as uncertain as love.
Now I find myself reflecting at the brink of a new year about all the significant life-changes I’ve made in just 365 days. I’m smiling as I write this, because I realize I am entering 2018 as an entirely revamped version of myself.
I’m not just a new me because of the tangible changes I’ve made or adventures I’ve had this year, such as becoming a part of a couple, moving into a van, or because I traveled to 10 new countries and 15 national parks in the United States and Canada.
I’m a new me, because I let go.
I let go of my impossibly difficult job in New York, I let go of the pressure of society to live life a certain way, I let go of the idea that I’m not good enough to fully pursue my passion of writing, I let go of the majority of my possessions, and I let go of my stubbornness and allowed myself to love and be loved.
I even let go of some big things I had been secretly holding onto.
I finally accepted that shared DNA does not mean someone deserves space in your mind or heart, when I let go of a toxic relationship with my father.
I let go of hiding the shame I carried as a victim of rape and sexual assault, and admitted “me too” on social media to my friends and family.
I let go of my pessimistic perspective of the current political climate, and allowed hope, optimism and action to take its place.
I let go of so many small and large things that caused restless nights, had been a source of insecurity and heartache, had seemingly defined me, overwhelmed me, and controlled me. I let go of fear of negative outcomes, and it became clear that letting go of negativity, by default, resulted in positivity.
I’m entering 2018, a lighter, happier, more fulfilled, peaceful, confident, strong, and dare I say wiser, version of myself. My only resolution for the new year is to continue letting go of the negative things that weigh me down, so there is more room for positivity and growth.
I hope that my story inspires you to let go of something negative in your life too.