Thoughts about 2016, Dreams for 2017

Back in mid-October, I finished a shift at the pizzeria, locked up, said good-bye to my coworkers, and promptly lost my ever-loving sanity. Ten minutes later, I was sitting on a curb in front of the Plaza, across the street from Central Park, sobbing. I was in a state of panic. I didn't want to go home and sleep, I didn't have any friends in the vicinity but I was desperate to talk to somebody.

Thank God for Chi. My friend, a Hillsong-goer, fellow writer and dreamer, wise and brilliant Chi read the panic in my texts and called me. We spoke for at least an hour that night, as I wandered the nearly-empty Manhattan streets. I cried at times, so distracted that I headed East instead of West in an attempt to get to Sixth Avenue. I laughed outrageously and hysterically, waving my arms and probably really freaking out the poor late-night city workers I passed.

I told her everything: that I was afraid I was a burden on the world, that I was overwhelmed and exhausted and tired of striving, tired of never being enough. I told her I was thinking of suicide, again.

Chi said many encouraging things to me that night, which helped me get through that episode. One thing she said was to try and take life in small chunks. "Let's just make it to New Year's," she said.

I'm not sure that's possible, I thought and maybe said out loud.

Well, here we are. New Year's Eve, the last day of 2016, and look who's still kicking: me.

The fact that I'm still alive is thanks to a few people — Chi, for sure. Rowan, who, when I was telling her about a different suicidal impulse, told me I needed to stay alive for her sake. Those words were life-saving. I'm here because of Rebeca, who gave me hard talks, and my doctor, who prescribes my meds, and my counselor, who forgave a two-month silence and is still willing to help me work through my issues and even tell me I'm worthwhile. I'm here because of my parents and my family and my church and my God. I'm here because of my job at the pizzeria and because there lives a fire inside me that is only sated when I'm writing, and the thought of quenching it, ever, is terrifying.

This year, 2016, has been a rough one, for me and the world. Radicals are rising to power across the globe, death seems to lurk in every corner and some days it feels like the apocalypse truly is nigh. Personally, I struggled with several months-long depressive episodes, a summer of wretched unemployment and the need to put my graduate education on hold in order to focus on my mental health.

img_5400But some good came of it. I can count on one hand the number of cutting episodes I had, and while it sucks that the number is greater than zero, three is way better than the hundreds I hit in past years. I wrote SAVING GRACE, my favorite book so far. I finally, finally, FINALLY got the tattoo I've been dreaming of for literal years. My best friend moved to New York. I've met some amazing people and been privileged to live with women who have greatly improved my world. I've fallen in love and had my heart broken and yet somehow remained kiss-free. This year has been weird and wonderful.

I can't wait for 2017. I can't wait for my 24th birthday, can't wait to finish editing SAVING GRACE and write SPOILER ALERT and the new, untitled YA I'm starting to dream up. I'm hoping I'll get an agent and maybe a book deal (a girl's gotta dream, right?) in 2017, hoping I'll fall in love some more and maybe this time it won't be unrequited. I'm hoping I finally learn to love myself and see some beauty in the mirror. I'm planning on getting closer to God and really, truly discovering His heart for me and the world.

In 2017, I want to live to the fullest. I want to experience every moment as brightly as possible, and then I want to relish in the memories and the expectation of more to come. I want to continue to dream and write and make friends. I want to see mental health stigmas busted. I want to travel to Greece or Turkey and volunteer at a refugee camp because the stories coming from Syria ruin me. I want Venezuela to heal. I want to shower the world with love, I want blessings to overflow on my beloveds and my enemies, I want good to spring from every well and just overwhelm us.

I want to be happy and content if none of those things come true. I want to find peace, inner peace, this year.

Guys, I am so excited for 2017. I know that whole thing about how calendar years are just arbitrary markers of time and not actual sentient things and yadda yadda yadda, but I believe that I can make a conscious decision to enjoy the arbitrary marker of time we call 2017. I believe I can make the best of every bad situation and truly enjoy the not-so-good ones. I believe it can be our best year yet — no matter what.

Will you guys join me in being excited for and dreaming about having a good year? I've told you what I want to accomplish and experience in 2017 — what about you? Connect with me, guys! Leave a comment, shoot me an email through the contact form, be my friend...let's all band together and force 2017 to be awesome. We can do it, I believe. I've got to believe...