When I thought of what to label 2017 as I write my year-in-review there were many ways it could have gone. The Year of “Healing,” “Surviving,” or even “Treading Along.” But when I dug a little deeper I began to see the questions that arose in my life this past year.
2016 was a rough year and I discussed how broken I was during last year’s reflection. The year left me with little hope. After having lost my best friend, it seemed my life was shattered and putting the shards together seemed next to impossible.
But in trying to resemble some normalcy, I realize that my friend’s passing was a catalyst for a bigger movement in my life. A curiosity built within me, a sort of desire for self-discovery motivated by wanting to be freed from the shackles of grief.
“Am I happy?”
It was the question I was forced to ask myself over and over again. At first, it was driven by loss. How can I be happy again? I was driven to despair because of grief, but as 2017 progressed, I realized that the grief I was experiencing made me take an honest look at my own happiness. The “how can I be happy again?” question was one that would have a ripple effect into every nook and cranny of my life.
The biggest truth when it comes to questions is that once you acknowledge them, there is no blocking the snowball effect that ensues. If you allow yourself to question one area of your life, you will soon begin to question everything. The many parts of our lives are like pieces to one giant puzzle – when one is in question, it’s hard to not scrutinize others.
When I look back at 2017, it was spent being brave and seeking out the help in processing grief and making sense of the many questions I had through therapy. It was being grateful when life was kind and savoring the moments of joy, like any moment spent with my beautiful niece, Tori. Appreciating the beautiful and joyful moments, alongside gaining perspective and objectivity in times of despair and grief, allowed me to look at my own happiness with unexpected clarity. Grief was the catalyst, but happiness was the motivator throughout this past year for the questioning journey I embarked on.
As a result of the good and the bad, I made the decision to end a job that wasn’t making me happy and it has put me on a path to fall in love, once again, with the work I do. For me, I was seeking a desire to be happy, and to return to a more joyful state. The easiest place to focus on when it came to happiness was my career. After all, work is where we spend a majority of our lives. It’s immediacy and frequency meant I couldn’t hide from the question of whether or not my job was making me happy. When I felt my happiness completely disappear, I knew a change was needed. A new job, with new colleagues, at a new institution brought with it a newfound appreciation for the work I do, and a new way of learning and sharpening my skills.
The question of my own happiness made me analyze more than just my career and that decision continues to play itself out. While I feel excited and happy right now, I know there is more to develop in allowing me to know where it is that I should be professionally. I began to question the general decisions I was making – seemingly putting others happiness ahead of my own. This brought with it some resentment and a desire to be more selfish. At one end of the spectrum I’d be making excuses to not hurt others feelings, and on the other it was me being a yes man even when my own self-desire was depleted. My decisions were not being made based on own happiness, or gratitude, but rather on other people’s feelings, or my perceptions of their feelings. My own happiness had taken a back seat and the “Am I happy?” question struck me hard. And so, 2018 brings with it a journey of continuing to heal my grief, but also get back on track to my own happiness, my desires, and my own learning and development.
If 2017 taught me anything it is that nothing is instantaneous. This past year gave me many questions about my life, to which, I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I’m not sure I have any of them, and by the time I do a 2018 reflection, I still may not have them. But I think it’s a wonderful thing to be curious about life, our world and the power that we carry within ourselves. As 2018 begins, I’m hoping to use this new questioning spirit to unlock the potential within myself and to be on a quest for where, what and who makes me happiest.
2017 brought with it a flood of questions, but I’m no longer scared of uncertainty. I feel curiosity excites and invigorates me more than it has. I’m on a quest to finding and creating my best self. 2018 may not be stock full of answers, but I find myself embracing the questions, and as one of my favorite quotes says, perhaps I will, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.