“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton
At the start of a new year, many people spend time reflecting on the previous year. They share stories of growth, share what they’ve accomplished in twelve months, and share the good memories from the previous 365 days. But it doesn’t seem like we allow ourselves to have a year where you gotta put up with the rain.
Somehow, we must prove to ourselves and to one another that big things have happened. That we’ve accomplished a lot. That life didn’t stand still, but that we kept evolving.
You gotta put up with the rain.
And then we plan and attack the next twelve months. We make new year’s resolutions. Or we choose a word to describe what we want the next year to look like. Then we try to keep ourselves accountable and maybe even ask others to join in. But by the time spring rolls around, we may not be where we imagined we would be. And then summer and fall and winter creeps up on us and we’re left asking, yet again, what did I accomplish?
Y’all. I’m not convinced this is the best way to look at a year in the life. Maybe we don’t need to keep evolving every twelve months. I’m not convinced that I need to list accomplishments from the past year to prove that my life has had significance and meaning. And I’m not certain that I have to prove to myself or to others that I have had a year worth living.
Perhaps I’m being cynical. Perhaps the past twelve months or so have been more difficult for me than I want to admit. Maybe I’m reliving the pain that I experienced this time last year. But I think that it’s ok to say that I simply had a year. My year was neither big nor small. Instead, I simply lived the past twelve months.
DID I HAVE A WORD FOR THE YEAR? (GAG ME WITH A SPOON.)
Last year, I was working on a team that asked everyone to state a word of the year for 2019. Bleh. I wanted to vomit. Ok. Not really, but those kinds of things are not and have never been for me. Having a word for the year seems like the very thing that middle class, suburban, white people do. And yet, I’m one of those people. Plus, my supervisor was asking me for a word. So I played along.
That was the word I heard come out of my mouth. I really wanted to say CHILLAX but I wasn’t feeling snarky or hipster-ish or able to remember the band that told the story about the chillaxin t-shirt years ago. (I still can’t remember the band circa 2010-2012. If you know, please share!)
All I knew in that moment was that I needed to relax. At this time last year, I had no idea what the next twelve months would hold. I had no idea what to expect in the next twelve days. Everything was changing and moving so quickly.
Just a few weeks before this time last year, I thought the next 10 years of my life were planned out. And then, on a Monday morning, everything changed.
I was out of full-time work for 6 months. I worked from home during most of that time. Even before employment changed, I was suffering physically and mentally. The stress of being a mom – in particular, a white mom who had adopted three black girls and had to figure it all out in a moment’s notice – finally caught up with me. Plus, the herniated disc in my back was flaring up. I was unable to carry my 2 year-old daughter any longer. I could no longer run. There was nothing musical in my life. It was difficult to find time to do anything that I wanted to do or to simply find 2 minutes to just be.
It was time to RELAX.
And honestly, that’s what I’ve tried to do the past year. I’ll be the first (or Chris might beat me to it) to say that I haven’t always succeeded in relaxing. I still have my moments. I still have my days. But I’ve tried.
And that’s why I think it’s ok to just have a year. A year where you don’t necessarily feel the need to list accomplishments. A year where you don’t feel the need to prove yourself. Instead, those twelve months are a time to just be. 365 days to live on your terms and to rediscover what life looks like after all your plans change.
Because sometimes, you just need to chillax.