As I thought back on this year, so I could write this blog post, I wondered, “What have I accomplished? Did I do anything worthwhile?” I worried that I had wasted a year because I didn’t “achieve” many of the lofty, high level goals I set for myself sometime on or before January 1st, 2016. And then I reminded myself that 2016 was a doozy. For everyone, not just me.
And so, I reframed how I approached my definition of success. 2016 wasn’t about the flashiness of being on a plane every four months, getting published, or attending banquets at the UN. No, 2015 took care of that.
So often, 2016 was about the pragmatic work of getting shit done and dealing with the shit not only going on in my head and heart, but also with the physical ramifications and manifestations of those happenings. It was about learning how to be in places and spaces when I had no desire to. Figuring out how to be here when all I wanted was to be there. Doing the work of clawing myself back to some joy and finally being able to take down my “out to lunch” sign. The work of learning how to let go or at least compartmentalize the pain I felt. Because, even though I’m a feeler, there’s some shit that just hurts too much. The depression that comes when you’re wondering what could have been done differently and how reaching out sooner might have changed things.
January to July was pretty dark and dim. But, around August, things started to truly lighten up. And through it all, there were these glimmering moments of light.
There was returning home, to the US, Cornell, and friends left behind to find things better than I left them. Discovering, no, being invited to, no, creating my TRIBE – a group of women who have lifted me up, checked me, and seen me through it all this year. There were articles that took off and got picked up by other entities, as well as, pieces only I and 10 other people read – that still mattered all the same. Neos. Leaving a strong legacy behind. Graduation. The growing of spines. Being accepted to every Master’s degree program I applied to, and ultimately deciding on one that is mighty, mighty fine. Dreams coming true on Capitol Hill. Roaming the halls. Seeing history with my own eyes. Playing some small part in our government – something I still believe in despite, or in-spite of all its flaws. Moving to Philadelphia. My own space for a fresh start. A whole city for my taking. Saying no, then showing up anyway. Because, that is what I do. Always, all ways, showing up for you. Graduate school. The load breaking me down so changing how I carry it. New friends. Old friends. In-between friends. Road trips. Home trips. Bal-an-cing it all trips. Applications. Waiting. Lives saved. Impact made. No more ‘all I’m asking for is ifs.’ No more asking. Getting. Getting exactly what I always wanted, though in a shape I wasn’t prepared for. Never prepared for. Always, prepared for. Strong like. Surprises. Escalations. Lessons in always getting it done. Lessons in being here, when and because here is where I have to be, since love is always the why.
2016 was one of those years that left me on the surface underwhelmed and feeling like maybe I didn’t do enough. Which is true, I probably didn’t. I’m sure I could’ve done more. But, darkness has this way of eating away at you. It’s something you think you can push through but often can’t. So, please be sure to keep me where the light is. Keep me where the light is, and I promise I’ll do more. Be the great I know I can be. Create the things I really want to see.
Thanks for the lessons 2016. The lessons, the push, the learning of this new model of me. I figured out how to find my way back to some JOY, created my own space and carved out my voice in the process. Got a degree, and am halfway to another one. Managed to still travel, present some papers and have some fun. Merge academic Gabby with Gabby outside the ivory tower, towards a version of this Gabby girl I’m really starting to like. One that’s always ready to give this academic work, but also never afraid to break it down and make it plain. One who knows that credentials and degrees mean nothing if they’re not ultimately useful and accessible – and not just to and for my personal gain.
I ran from a lot this year. But, I also found my way home- to a new home, a new joy, a new peace, a new glo – one unlike any I’ve ever known. Dreams of a life&love I call my own…
Maybe next time I’ll remember to leave a bread crumb or two, just in case I get lost again. But, let’s be honest, I’ll probably forget to. Instead, I’ll just remain “a series of my best work, recipes, road maps, and doodles from the front lines,” meaning I’ll keeping making it up and figuring it all out as I go along.
2016, here’s to you. All that you are, were, and will be.
2017, welcome. We’ve got some living, some loving, and some major work to do. It’s so, so very nice to meet you.