In the waning days of the fall of 2013, one of my wisest friends urged me to say “yes” to things more. I was on the verge of a new relationship and warily dipping my toe over the line. I believe her intentions were for me to stop overthinking every decision, to stop letting my anxiety stop me and to stop being afraid of paths I could not yet see. Thus, the Year of the Yes Woman was born. The relationship ended, but not my pledge.
Say “yes” to what though? To new experiences? To spending a weekend at the beach with someone I was just learning? To a women’s day retreat with a renowned author? To flying alone to St. Paul, MN to see my old roommate? To another year serving with AmeriCorps, this time with City Year?
Truthfully, being a ‘Yes Woman’ morphed into something more than just trying new things that I shouldn’t have been second guessing at all. 2014 has been a fun year for me. A carefree, adventurous year that I needed and I wanted. Sometimes saying ‘yes’ was more like saying ‘what the hell, why not?’ Why not stay up all night, why not go out for Taco Tuesday, why not go to a strip club in Baltimore, why not take the day off to watch the World Cup final downtown, why not take another shot, why not kiss that guy at the bar.
Here, at the end of the year, I feel I achieved my goals – my undefined, vague, unknown-to-me goals. I went into this year, this life after graduating after joining AmeriCorps and moving back to Orlando, lost and tired. Tired of working towards a timeline that punished missteps, tired of not doing what I “should be doing,” tired of comparing my success.
I think I’ve learned just as much this past year as I ever did in school. I learned that I have a terrible need to write, like it is my religion. I learned what it is like for a child to look at you and say they need you. In turn I learned what it is like to worry about a child who had no relation to you, to rush to work panicking over all the scenarios in your head. I learned how it feels to walk away from something and how it feels to want something that is terrible for you.
These weren’t all new lessons – 2014 wasn’t the first year I’ve lived. Many things were confirmed for me, reassured for me. Some tried to teach me about myself – I know myself, stars and faults, better than one could imagine. Mistakes aren’t new to me, neither is the eternal boredom or propensity to complicate things that plague me.
This year was an adventure. An adventure with the roving band of misfits I call my friends, near and far. I went to Tampa for Gasparilla and Homecoming. I visited Pensacola, Gainesville and Minnesota chasing the ones I love as they move across the country. I danced in snow flurries for the first time and visited the Library of Congress. I held my dog of fourteen years on her last day and wobbled at my GrandBig’s wedding and read and read and read several things that have changed how I look at certain things.
Next year, I might not drink as much. I might get more sleep. I’ll finish my graduate school applications. I might move. I might pay off my credit card. Yet, these goals aren’t subscribed to a specific timeline. If I learned anything this year, it’s that we are all a little lost. The successful, fantastic people I know and love are all sometimes lost and seeking something, working toward something. Satisfaction and contentment are what is lacking from my generation and it is okay. I’ll achieve what I want to and what I need to in due time.
And along the way, I will read and learn and grow as a person, I will struggle to make time for relaxation and peace and I will hustle to the next step in my plan. I will cry and yell and probably say something foolish while running back to the ones who love me. I will dance and drive fast and sometimes take a shot when I shouldn’t, and I will laugh and love and live.
In 2015, I want to read Hemingway, whenever and wherever on whatever path life takes me.