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    It feels weird to say this because for all intents and purposes it shouldn’t have been, but 2017 was actually a good year for you when you stop to look at it the right way. Notice I said the right way, way grounded and rooted in the deeper understanding of self you gained this year. Way rooted in the realities of here and now. Way rooted in knowing that you’re okay. 

    I could sit here and tell you that this year mattered because you got your Master of Science in International Educational Development from the 3rd best graduate school of education, garnering your second Ivy League degree in the process. I could say this year mattered because you traveled to seven countries, spending significant time in one where you reached a new dimension of self. I could say this year mattered because you went solo and are turning this blog into a business. I could say those were the reasons 2017 was good, and they are, but, we both know there’s more to it than that. 

    You began this loop around the sun cleaning up a mess that wasn’t your own in a city you’ve resisted. I’m glad you learned how to be places you didn’t want to, 2016 taught you that. And then there was the train ride and week spent that had you thinking y’all could be something, that had you thinking y’all were something. A definition and answer still looming, I hope you’ll make your peace with that. 

    You could choose to see this year as one marked by departures. Threesomes turned twosomes twice over. Friends no longer for life. The sanity you left behind on Locust Walk. The tears you shed in the basement, Uber’s after tailgates, the roof,  North Third, on your flight to Johannesburg, and on multiple buses from Philly back to DC. The tears you shed in transit. The shattering of your heart in a way you’ve never felt before. Who knew you could break like that?

    Or you could choose to see this year the right way and know that to be in transit is nothing more than to transition and even though you don’t like change, it is the only constant in life. You got some new constants in life this year. New sisters. Homes you can go back to. Homes you made with human beings instead of out of them even if you now know you probably should throw away the lock and key. New stamps. New experiences. Dare I say, a new you?

    You have spent so much of your life in transit and while I know it brings you joy, I hope you learn the magic in standing still and finding freedom in stability. That doesn’t have to mean being “traditional,” because you will never be like anyone else. But it does have to mean figuring out what makes sense for you. Figuring out the kind of person you want to be. Creating the lifestyle you want to lead. It means not only learning the kind of love you want, but always trusting that it is out there. Owning up to your part in the heartbreaks you’ve experienced this year, April 6th, September 4th, December 21st. When will you learn to stop giving him multiple chances to treat you wrongly after he’s already proven himself unable to engage you rightly? 

    I worry you learned to bite your tongue in service of those who would not hear you even if you spoke. Be careful that learning what your quiet means does not turn into forgetting how to speak. And in the process of speaking, never let your words or those of anyone else send you down the river. Remember that it is always about the work. That you do the work as an offering and leave the rest up to God. Yes scale matters, but sleeping does too. Don’t get so caught up in the social of it all that you forget what is and isn’t really you. That you forget who is and isn’t really for you, the people you can call at 12AM who will answer, the texts to check on you when they haven’t seen your avatar in a while, those are you real life internet friends. Do not make yourself smaller for anyone. “Must be nice.” Why yes, yes it is. 

    Know that you are a person worthy of being proud of even though it feels like the most important things haven’t worked out right. You will find a job and could already have one if you didn’t believe in being fulfilled and fed in all things. Know that the right opportunities for you are always on their way and stay faithful to what you to know to be true of your dreams – your dreams, no one else’s for you. People can only meet you from where they are so do not hold them accountable for not understanding you. Appreciate their effort and pray blessings over their wishes. Hold on to your spark and let no man or woman change it. Pay attention to your ticks and take note of habits that don’t need breaking. 

    I pray you will always love without pretenses and I hope you’ll take off the jacket that he and the world convinced you to wear because the universe needs more people who proudly wear love on their arms. Always, all ways get excited, even if it doesn’t work out. Give when you feel like you shouldn’t, but know what to keep for yourself. Do not become cynical or jaded just because that is what they would have you do. You are not a savage, this is okay. Let go of those who have let go of you. There’s nothing smart or sexy about being a martyr and you deserve reciprocated love. Do not try to disappear; they wouldn’t have seen you anyway. Be wary of he who watches and doesn’t engage. You are not a wishy-washy person. You warrant consistency.

    Trust that pieces of peace will be looking for you always because God is waiting to meet you around every corner and on every rock and boulder. Go to the ocean. Marvel at her depth, a depth you know deeply because your waters too run twenty thousand leagues under the sea. Worry less about leaving the house and give yourself the space you need to be in whatever space is feeding you at the moment. Place your peace of mind and calm of heart above all else. 

    I am so incredibly proud of the woman you have become. You are a woman who knows herself. My only wish for you is to protect her from those who will see her brilliance too little too late or be threatened by it, to take heed of where you lay her head, and to honor the voices both inside and out that she worked so hard to cultivate. 

    In all that you do from here on, be led from your soul out. 
    Your spirit Gabrielle, that inner voice of knowing, knowing when you’re sick of your shit, knowing when you’re sick of his shit, knowing when it is time to get your shit together and knowing when it is time to sit with your shit and learn the lessons it has for you, will never lead you wrong. 
    You will never lead you wrong. 

    I’m looking forward to 2018. 

    Various Photo Credits:
    Damola Akintude | OmphileAntoinette Lee | Leanila Photos 
    Photos of various moments and places that mattered for me this year. 

    Various locations: 
    Philly| NYC | ATL | Bali, Indonesia| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia| Cartagena, Colombia | South Africa| Nicaragua | England | Ireland | Michigan

    Gabrielle Hickmon
    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Find me on: Web | Twitter


    1 Comment

    1. Aundréa M.
      December 29, 2017 / 6:13 pm

      Real tears.. shoutout to your growth and this unapologetic reflection of it. I’m already looking forward to your next letter to self. Go bb, go!!

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