In all honesty, Husband Dearest and I were hardly sad to see the end of 2015. People seem to personify years, as though all the bad things and the good things that went on in those 365 days belong to that time, and that day 366 signifies a new, unrelated beginning. With that perspective in mind, these are the new things I discovered in 2015:
Life can be as bad as it gets and as good as it gets at the same time. In 2015, we hit rock bottom. And then we realised that rock bottom wasn’t the bottom, it was just the crust.We could hit mantle, and then lower mantle. And we kept going lower until we reached core. Yet at the same time we had perfection. We had two incredible children, we had each other, we had family, we had friends, we had our own home, we had secure careers, we had love, we had so much laughter and we had cats. And knowing this, yet still being at core bottom, made me feel incredibly guilty and ungrateful. This is a really common feature in human compassion – feeling guilty for not being content with your blessings. As I began to move forwards, I realised these two states are not mutually exclusive. You can be sad but so happy at the same time. You can feel such darkness inside, yet belly laugh and it’s okay. I learnt that I could be insanely happy, grateful and loved up yet life could be throwing shit at us – and that was how things worked. Learning this has helped me immensely this year, and I think the acceptance of this duality in feelings has been key in ‘growing up’.
There isn’t a limit to the misfortune of some and the blessings of another. Nor is there any rhyme or reason for that. I think we’re constantly searching for ‘why’ and desperate to find the blame for happenings in life. And whilst people look to all manner of celestial agents, deciding forces or powers that be, sometimes people get more than their fair share. And it’s bloody horrid. Life can make you so angry and so upset. It can break the hearts of those you love, over and over again, and there’s no justification for it. I think we all like to believe that somewhere there is some balance to things. We’re taught, you do good, good things happen. But sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and you lose faith in any sort of equitableness. Whilst this is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow, I think accepting that sometimes life can be cruel and seem unjust, makes it easier to move on. Because what is most unjust is letting these things beat you.
You should never judge a person based on what they present to the world (especially not via any social media). Echoing the above lessons, 2015 taught me that everyone has their shit as well as their beauty. But most people don’t allow their shit to shine through. I know many people who bog themselves down in comparison to what they perceive others to be. But we don’t all wear our troubles on our sleeve. Our minds are hidden and nobody is completely secure. I learnt that the people who are happiest do not judge their achievements, worth and identity against others but simply strive the be the best they can in themselves. Which can be just as hard – negotiating your inner critic. But at least it’s yours and you alone are the master of it.
I learnt that friends are the thing. Friends are salt that flavours life. They’re the sugar in your tea, the ketchup on your hot dog and all the cliches you can invent. I’ve made some new friends and lost some old this year, but if there’s one thing that has come screaming out of the past annum with all the vibrancy of a transsexual rainbow sheep at a gay pride event, it’s that friends will get you through. I can’t wax the greatness of my friends lyrically enough. They are a-mazing, and my family would not be half the jolly bundle we are without them. (Having said this, my family is extremely awesome too.)
Time isn’t a healer, but it is important. If you break your leg, it isn’t the time that heals you, it’s the medicine and surgery. But time is the medium that carries this through. It’s the same with matters of the heart and mind. Time won’t make it all better, but it will allow recovery. And you’ll never get back what you were or had before that time passed, but sometimes you’ll get better, and at the least, you’ll get different – and that’s ok. People say ‘give yourself time’, in so many situations, and now I can fully appreciate why. If things aren’t where or how they should be right now, just give it time.
Perfection is a fallacious concept invented by fairy tales, hair advertisements and good parenting magazines. If I had a penny for every time I was told ‘good enough is good enough’ this year, I’d be… well, I’d have plenty of pennies. I’ve spent far too much of this year chasing perfection in all aspects of my life. And the wise amongst you will already know – if you seek perfection, you will only end up unfulfilled. Even as I type this, I can feel my mind questioning this defeatist attitude. But I don’t mean we can’t be great. We can be excellent, we can do something perfectly, we can feel wholly complete – but I don’t think we can be utterly perfect and go through life utterly perfectly. Others may disagree but I think this acceptance made me a much better mother, wife, friend, daughter and sister this year and, most importantly, a happier person.
The year 2015 has been an incredibly gruelling, testing and downright awful year, in many, many respects. And yet, I’d never erase it because we’ve had some of the most amazing experiences and learnt lessons we never would have done. 2015 threw all of our pieces all over the place, and as we put them back together, the picture looks different, but hopefully, when we’ve finished, it’ll look better than it ever could’ve done.
But if it just looks good enough, that’ll be good enough for me. *
*Jokes, I’ll most likely be a gibbering wreck sobbing into my red wine that I’ll never be the aforementioned wholesome, Cath Kidston and Liberty fabric apron wearing, mint growing, lamb adorning, knick-knack making, false idol.