2016: The Year That Broke Me

I haven’t blogged in 156 days. If you know me you know writing is my gasoline, it’s my well-balanced breakfast, my metaphorical caffeine.

To have abandoned the one thing that is possibly the best thing for me, what has made me my best and truest self, is to show how this year has left me broken. Writing helps me process, understand and speak the words truest to my soul, and the past several months have left me unable to do much more than go through the motions.

2016 has beaten the life out of me. It robbed me of happiness, excitement, and ambition. It forced me to keep moving like a shell with only emptiness to fill it. I used to be an “everything happens for a reason” kind of guy – always looking at the glass half full, always finding the message in the mess. But I would come to find that this life is as cruel and heartbreaking as it is fulfilling and beautiful.

The cruelty of this year showed me just what it means to hate yourself – to feel a mix of grief and guilt so strong you question who you are as a person. It showed me that life can truly change in an instant, with a brief phone call that changes your night fatigue to numbing insomnia. Worst of all, it showed me that sometimes you will live the rest of your life with questions you will never have the answers to.

Every December, I digest what the meaning of the outgoing year has been and make a laundry list of resolutions to follow up on for the new year. If 2016 has taught me anything it is that there are no guarantees in life. Not even tomorrow is certain, much less the next hour. Of the goals I made for 2016, some I managed to live out, while most fell by the wayside. This year, I’ve managed to, in short, digest this year to a word: broken. I won’t make a list of resolutions or goals for 2017. Instead, I hope to heal and find my love of life again.   After all, I created this blog as a way to chronicle the lessons I’ve learned from the good, the bad and the tragic. I set out to explore the world, and fall in love with it. I want to find my optimism for life again. Even when Pandora opened the jar that unleashed a series of misfortunes and sorrows, at the bottom was still the gift of hope.

As I hope for a better year in 2017, I realize there were many things to be grateful for in 2016. I presented my research in Baltimore and have been working on getting it published. I got a promotion at work and am leading quite a few big projects. I turned 25, and while my intentions were good in making this year the best yet, the milestone is enough to be grateful for. I managed a trip to Maine to see my best friend Erin, and take in some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen. I managed to reconnect with some of my best friends that I haven’t made time for in the past. Lastly, I’m going to be an uncle come June 2017! Despite how broken I feel, there is so much to make me smile. I may be broken right now and part of me always will be, but I’m going to keep moving because life isn’t waiting for me.

I think that is what I’ll always cherish about 2016 – that life has its tragedies and horrors. It can make you question the world we live in and even the person you call yourself, but there is still so much to grateful for, there is so much worth smiling about. Even in the tragedy of 2016, I have managed to smile and laugh. I haven’t been completely shattered. It goes to show that we are stronger than we think, but not immune to being vulnerable.

I hope you’ll stick with me through this journey. It won’t be easy, but nothing really ever is easy. As I learn how to put the pieces of life back together, and what that new picture may look like, I hope you’ll continue to be inspired and make today the best you can.

 

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