Reflections: A Year in Review

Happy New Year! 

With each new year, it seems that time passes exponentially. Before we know it, we’re rushing to finish holiday shopping and see loved ones from afar. Busy holidays soon conclude and we make goals and promises for the next chapter in our life. As we ring in the new year today, I’m taking the time to reflect on 2015 and what the year meant for me.

I faced several big changes this year and many lessons were taken to heart. I was trying to decide if 2015 was mostly a good year or a bad year, but it wouldn’t be accurate to pick one or the other. Rather, I think the best way to describe my 2015 is the year of change. Good and bad, joyful and challenging, this past year was definitely an emotional one for me.

Unfortunately, one of the main themes for me this year was ending relationships. More accurately, discerning healthy relationships from negative ones. It was a challenge and a process for me to learn how to let people go. I’ve always been the type of person to give 110% effort in a relationship and try to fix it when problems arise. I’m the initiator, the planner and problem solver. The fact that I’m sensitive and wear my emotions on my sleeve only adds a level of complexity to my challenge. Therefore, in 2015 when I seemed to be inundated by people – who I regarded as friends – that didn’t want to put in effort to maintain our relationship, I had a really hard time letting go. Whether it was their mediocre level of effort or complete disregard for respect, I still didn’t want to accept the fact that they didn’t want my friendship – or at least not enough to reciprocate. I’ve never understood why someone you’ve established a happy relationship with wouldn’t want to do what it takes to maintain it. Maybe I’ll never know, but at least I can say that I’ve finally learned how to let go.

It has been one of the most rewarding concepts for me to grasp – the importance of no longer chasing after people. Whether it’s a romantic pursuit or a desired friendship, it’s not worth it to continuously chase after someone who won’t put in a reasonable amount of effort on their end. It seems so simple to say that, but it’s a lot harder to live that philosophy. I eventually understood that if someone is worth your time, effort and love, they will demonstrate it and they won’t let you do all the work. Friendship and love is a two-way street and the effort should be balanced and easy. If it’s not, then time shouldn’t be wasted nor tears be shed over someone who clearly doesn’t value the relationship mutually. I deserve better. We all deserve to have good, true friends and loved ones that will try their best to make each other happy.

With that said, it’s also healthy to learn how to be satisfied in your own solitude. Another lesson for me was figuring out how to be happy without being dependent on someone else for my happiness. I’ve always thought that I’ve had self confidence and loved myself, but I struggled with that being enough. I was happier sharing my time with a significant other and I was sad when I was alone. It has taken me a long time to finally enjoy doing things alone. I’ve actually gone so far as to prefer it lately! So many benefits have come from my change in attitude and perspective. I’ve been able to focus solely on improving myself and figuring out my passions and next steps in life.

As I’ve been figuring out my next steps in life, another big theme for me in 2015 was becoming independent and growing up. I gained my first full time job, sort of “moved out” into an apartment, started paying rent and all of my own bills (oh yay), and begun saving a lot of money towards paying off my student loans. Can I just say now that growing up is overrated?! Ok…I guess being an adult has its perks and struggles.

It’s true what they say – when one door closes, another one opens. God has His plan and during those moments that we’re begging God to explain what we’re going through and end the pain, we need to remember that His timing is not always our desired timing. Even when a prayer feels unanswered and you seem to be stuck in a reoccuring nightmare, God is working on a solution that you may not even realize or understand. Through my frustrated moments this year when relationships ended, I only needed to be strong and patient until the right people walked into my life. Sure enough, prayers were answered (not in the form I may have predicted) and I’ve truly been blessed with some amazing friends.

I feel so thankful to have grown close with several people in the past year. A blessing in itself, I returned to the church this summer that I attended during junior high school. Later I was invited to a young adult bible study group that meets weekly. My life has changed for the better ever since I started going to the bible study. Not only have I grown in my faith and closer to God, but I’ve gained a really positive and fun support group. They’re a tight-knit group of friends that I see on a regular basis that bring me to tears of laughter and who have my back through hard times. Now I realize that being selective in friendships has many benefits. I couldn’t be any happier to be a part of our group.

An unexpected yet very appreciated friendship also formed with a coworker at my new job. When I started in June, I really didn’t know what to expect. Quite honestly, I thought it’d be a very temporary job while I pursued a career in journalism. Turns out, my plan has changed after unexpected realizations on the job. One of those realizations being that I enjoy working at the college a lot more than I expected to. It’s challenging yet rewarding and I work with a great group of coworkers. I’ve especially grown close with my cubemate. We’re the same age, have the same sense of humor, similar interests, and we quickly felt comfortable to confide in one another. Not only do we literally help each other throughout the day on work, but we figuratively help each other get through the day by sharing jokes and stories. One day I invited her to church, and now we often go together. Work just wouldn’t be the same without her and I’m so glad I get to spend every day with such a good friend!

Before I finally say “good riddance” to 2015, I’d like to conclude with gratitude (hey I can rhyme). One of the best realizations of the year was recognizing how fortunate I am and therefore my promise to not take it for granted. I’m truly thankful for my good job, loving family and friends, connection at church, beautiful home, good health and even joy. A few months ago, a friend of mine told me during one of my low moments, “Kari, your happiness may be taken away from you now, but make sure you keep your joy!” At the time, I couldn’t fathom this annoying “joy” I was supposed to have. Well Maria, you’d be proud of me now, because I certainly have my joy.

Thank you to all my family and friends who love and support me, and especially to you for reading this! Cheers to 2016! I hope you all have a blessed and happy new year filled with many opportunities, life lessons and joy!