As the new year approaches, I look back on 2021 and wonder, what the f*ck just happened? Sit back, pour yourself a glass of something bubbly, and break down the year with me, Madi, founder of @letterstodeardiary.
I finally had a good cry, mourning the lows of 2021. (*Whatever lows that your year entailed, this is an exercise I highly recommend before we enter 2022.) It was an ugly cry that ended in calling my mom and listening to Natasha Bedingfield. My mom said something very accurate on our call as I was venting, and that was, "Madi, everyone feels this way after the year (and a half) we just had." With that, I opened my laptop and started writing.
From the outside (social media) looking in, my year (and maybe yours too) looked terrific. Personally, my year did have many incredible highs. But, it also contained months of tirelessly job-searching and interviewing while trying to stay creative on my blog, maintain my mental health, and have positive relationships with friends and family. These struggles were not as highlighted on my feed (I try to include it on DD). A lot of this year was plugging and chugging. What does that mean? I would wake up and go through the motions, and I think that is why I finally had a good cry session (actually, I know it was). I didn't live life to the fullness that I wish I could have (or should have at 24), which is sad to me (and maybe for you too). This realization hit me at the stupidest moment, watching 2021 "Year in Review" Tik Toks.
A trend on social media right now is to show your year in pictures and videos, which happens every year, I guess, but this year it is popular to have a mash-up of Bruno Mars and Adele playing in the background. This damn song has been stuck in my head for like a week straight, and I only use the @lettersondeardiary Tik Tok sparingly (something I want to change in 2022). Regardless, this trend made me realize that although 2021 had highs, I experienced many lows and lots of stress. I didn't leave 2021 with a camera roll full of photos and videos from fun moments like I have from years past or like other people were able to, and it did make me feel some type of way.
If I can give myself one moment of pity without judgment in this piece, I'd like to say that what I hate most about the lows throughout this year is what feels like the loss of time. The thought saddens me that the pandemic started when I was a fresh 22, and now I just turned 24. This sentence can apply to any young person; switch out the ages, but inevitably none of us can change it. A friend of mine from High School posted this on her Instagram story this week, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Cheesy quotes like this don't usually make me question myself too much, but this one did. Although parts of 2020 (and 2021) broke me, they also opened my eyes. If anything I can share about my lessons from this year, we can always change. It is so stereotypical to say, "you can't change the past, but you can change the future," but I do think it's mostly true (other than the curveballs the future will undoubtedly send you). So I guess that leads to the point of writing this down and sharing it on the internet, and that is because if you feel weird about this last year and can't pull a collage of all the amazing stuff that happened to you into a fifteen-second video, you are not alone. Although social media may say otherwise, the reality of the world is we're still all going through this (thanks, OMGcorn).
So my New Year's resolution for DD and in life is to continue to be honest about the real struggles I am facing as a 20 something in this weird world because there are more similarities between us than differences (especially us 20 somethings). I, for one, do not have all the answers; that is why I have the Advice Column and co-contributing writers because we can figure out life and our 20s together. Hopefully, I can bring up shared experiences through DD and carry that into 2022.
That is the beauty of a new year. And no, I do not advocate for the toxic culture of "New Year, new me!" but I support bettering yourself when it is right for you. So set resolutions if that works for you, become a new you if that works for you, or cut your hair- go crazy! I probably will not become a whole new person or cut my hair, and I will still make mistakes, but I will also learn from them. I can't change the past, none of us can, but we can decide our futures.
Happy New Year.
(Cover art by @emmawestlundart)