As I was looking back at this past year, I noticed that I did a lot of things (I packed more in a single year than I had in the past 6 years combined) because I made an unofficial resolution to be brave. If you know me, you know that the words "brave" and "Emmy" were rarely used in a single sentence... until this year. There is a lot I can cover but here at the major highlights:
1) I had two novels published in the span of 7 months.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you guys about this since the print versions (as well as the novel sequel in eBook) version were just released a week ago but my biggest professional highlight was finally getting my novels published. I had worked on Will and Lina: When Two Worlds Collide since 2008 (the original draft is nowhere near what it ended up being; one day I'll reveal how the story was original supposed to end) and I wrote the entire first draft of Will and Lina: London Calling last November. This year I edited them (with help from Kiera), worked on the covers, and I made my dreams come true by publishing years worth of hard work. The fact that I had the guts to say "Okay, I want to do this so I'm going to do it" and of not letting my nervousness get the best of me was a huge deal. I've always loved writing (obviously; I've been blogging for 7 years now!) but it wasn't until this year that I really worked hard at letting my "babies" out into the world. Even though I did stress myself out a little with deadlines and formatting issues, finally seeing my novels published was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done... and it's something that I know I will continue to do in the future.
2) I learned that sometimes the best thing is to do is let go so you can move forward.
Some of my biggest triumphs of the year in the "bravery" category had me walking away from things that I did not want to let go of. I walked away from a career path that I was loving but had to let go of because the school environment was making me physically ill. I let go of the fear of financial instability by admitting that I was at my happiest pursuing Theology and Religious Studies degrees and I would much rather do that than Speech-Language Pathology (though, mark my words, I will finish that someday.) I know jobs for Theology M.A.s are hard to come by but I'm not worried. This is what I want to do with my life -- what I feel called to do now that I've stopped trying to control the outcome. I let go of my fear of illness, which I developed when my father was first diagnosed with cancer several years ago. Yes, my platelets and iron are still on the low side and, no, I don't know when/if I'll get better... but I'm not worried about it. I know God will take care of me and, if this is just a cross I have to carry, then I will do it to the best of my abilities. I've found myself so much happier just letting go, moving forward, and not looking back. Oh, and please don't start singing that song from Frozen; I can't stand it.
3) My anxiety became manageable for the first time since I was first diagnosed with anxiety/panic disorder at 15.
I owe a big "thank you" to my therapist (whom I saw from March through the first week of August) because she helped me immensely. After that horrible incident in February, I was in full-on PTSD mode. In cognitive-behavioral therapy I not only learned that I had PTSD, I also learned how to deal with it. Since then I've still had some anxiety come and go (which is normal; that won't disappear altogether overnight), but it's no longer an issue when it comes to making plans. I've gone out so much this year (mainly to Disneyland with friends; it's kind of our thing) and my social life is so much better than it has been in years because I finally said "well, flip that table, anxiety. You're not the boss of me!" I can take public transportation (by myself... a huge feat I hadn't done since 2005.) I can drive long distances. I can do so many things because I refuse to let anxiety run my life... and it's been wonderful.
4) My biggest act of bravery was being honest with myself across the board.
It took a lot for me to sit down and, basically, be honest with myself. There were so many things that I had been in denial of for a number of reasons. It took a lot of courage for me to admit that school was causing me more harm than good because I had invested so much into it. To leave the SLP program (as well as stick up for myself against unfair professors) without even finishing the semester was uncharacteristic of me. I felt like a failure for a while... but then I realized that I wasn't. I tried and it didn't work out because it wasn't meant to be. I gave it my all and I pushed myself as much as I could and I'm proud of myself for that. To be able to say "okay, I tried this and it didn't work" and "okay, I need to make these changes to better my life" and then actually implement the changes was what made my year incredibly satisfying.
I look back at 2014 and I go "man, I went through a lot" because I did. I went through health issues, finance instability, career/academic disappointments, and a number of other things that were major turning points in my life. I see all the tears, pain, heartbreak, and disappointment that I felt... but none of it compares to the warmth, love, laughter, happiness, and achievement that I've also felt. Yes, the year stunk like a poopy diaper but I'm genuinely happy. I'm happier than I've been in a long time and I feel much freer than I have since before my dad died 5 years ago. I'm incredibly excited at all the brand new opportunities that I have in life all because I decided to be brave. I didn't run away and hide; I stood up and said "I'm sorry but I'm not going to let you define me." To quote the gif (from the web series Emma Approved): Holy Oprah, what just happened?! Who is this girl and how can I get her to stay? ;)
Anyway, I won't make traditional New Years resolutions because I don't want to limit my growth as a person. There is still a lot left to do but it'll all happen in God's time. In the meantime I'll just try to keep building on the courage I've gained this year and I hope that it will also translate in my faith which, sadly, took a back seat to school and work for the majority of the year.
Thank you all for sharing this year with me. You've helped enrich my year way more than y'all will know. I hope y'all stick around for the (undoubtedly) amazing adventures that 2015 has in store for all of us. Verso l'alto! :D
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D