Monday, January 5, 2009

Hoppy New Year!

Dear Revellers,

Alas, it is a New Year. For some of us, it is a new beginning. For some, a time of reflection. For others it is just another day.

I always find New Year's a bit of a mixed blessing. I try hard not to care about the New Year, but it's very hard not to. You see, I was born on the first day of the New Year, and so not only is there a lot of hype rolled into that special calendar year turn over, but there is also an element of aging and age-based reflections that get thrown into the mix.

And so I'm dealt with a bit of a one-two-punch every time this event rolls around.

As a combined New Year/Birthday celebration, some of my friends and I went out to dinner. Inevitably we all began summarizing our year, reflecting on our successes and failures, and outlining conclusions about whether the year was a "good" year or a "bad" year.

For the most part, my friends were positive or benign in their responses, but I answered honestly: I've had a horrible year. For me, 2008 has been the worst year so far in my experience. Considered as a whole, I struggle to find good aspects of the past year.

And I'm not going to rant on about why my year was awful, since some of it is described in this blog; but I do want to talk about the reactions my friends offered after my confession.

Most of them thought I was expressing resignation or sadness about my year. They cooed and said things like, "O, it can't have been that bad! Find something good in it! Don't worry, it will be better this year!"

And I think they made a mistake in assuming where those statements were coming from; I was not complaining or looking for platitudes. I was doing an honest appraisal of the last year of my life.

It sucked. It *was* depressing. I cried over the events of the past year. I tore my hair out, and beat my breast, and got lost in despondency.

I know my friends found my flat (and relatively negative) summary surprising. Surprising maybe because I didn't lightly gloss over the past, and speak only of the positive things, like so many of us are prone to doing. I was being honest, and sometimes, honesty, well... it makes others uncomfortable, I guess.

Despite the discomfort of my friends, it was important for me to be truthful about my experiences. Sometimes life is downright overwhelming, and I think it's important to admit that. And sometimes life is quite ugly, and I think we need to be honest with others about that too.

Pretending that things are great all the time does nothing for us as social beings. Perhaps keeping up illusions of a perfect life experience works in some cases, but I think in most cases, illusions can be destructive and counterproductive. How can people help you, or love you, or give you things if you never ever express a need?

Telling people that life has been difficult helps them to understand why I've been a little standoffish for some time. Explaining to my friends that I've spent a lot of time sitting alone in a corner, licking my wounds, enables them to understand that I haven't actually been a neglectful friend; I've just been working on some difficult problems, and that they should still call, even if I'm too tired or preoccupied to engage in meaningful visit.

And so yes, my year has been shitty. No, I've not been around much. And no, there's nothing anyone can do to fix any of it. Of all the things you can't do, there is still one thing you can do: You can continue to be my friends.

I guess there was one very positive aspect to the last year: My friends. My very kind, very loving, very caring, very understanding, and exceptionally loyal friends.

Cheers to you all! Drinks are on me the next time around!
Your bff who is keeping her chin up,

PS. I do predict that my next year will be immensely better than the last. I have some serious plans to roll out, and some interesting projects on the sidelines!!! Do I have a great job lined up yet... er... well, still working on that one!!!

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