Looking Back on 2012 and Moving Forward in 2013 [Confessions of a Twenty-Something]

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How are you guys doing today? Still hung over from New Year’s Eve? Still have glitter in your hair? Me too, but don’t worry; we’re all in this together. Let’s chug some coffee, and get down to business. While we’re nursing these hangovers and trying to figure out how to get out of bed without wanting to vomit, we’re also thinking about how to effectively utilize the fresh start we’ve been so graciously offered by Father Time. There is something about the New Year that makes me so happy and hopeful. There is so much rebirth and growth and opportunity for change.

As I was writing this post, my friend, Carolyn, stopped by my house unexpectedly. When I opened my front door, she was holding a red envelope in her hand with my name on it, but I also noticed that my name was written in my handwriting. That’s when I remembered that a year ago today, I had written a letter to my future self. I had completely forgotten about this note to my future self I had written a year earlier. I spoke of my hopes and dreams for 2012, and also some things I had accomplished in 2011. I read my “goals” for the year 2012 and couldn’t help but be hilariously entertained but also disappointed in myself a bit.

I didn’t fully accomplish my goal of losing a certain amount of weight, but I did lose half of my goal, and so I’ll pat myself on the back for that one. I also wanted to get into a “healthy relationship”—eh, I guess “healthy” is a relative term. So I’ll say that one was semi-achieved for a bit of the year. I also wanted to graduate college with above a 3.0 GPA, and that is the one goal that I definitely did stick with and accomplished. Cheers to me! 2012 was a really great year for me overall. I graduated college. I made new friends. I grew even closer to my old friends. I traveled. I loved. I moved on from loss. I took chances. I made myself happy.

This letter to myself was such a pleasant surprise and also put 2013 into a new light for me. Yes, things will always be confusing and uncertain and stressful at times, but the fact that we all get an opportunity to “start over” is something to be excited about. I cannot even begin to imagine what is in store for me in 2013. What mishaps will occur, what hearts will be broken (Please not mine, Universe!), what will make me laugh and smile and cry–it’s all up in the air. I hope to be moved out, or in the process of moving out, with a full-time job and maybe a boyfriend of some sort. I’d like to be more independent than ever and living a life I can be proud of. That’s the dream, right? But I don’t know for sure what will happen 365 days from now because as cliché as it sounds, life is unpredictable. Like Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” So for now, it’s all back to square one, but that’s the exhilarating part, isn’t it?

The excitement that comes from the feeling that anything can happen—that the world is at our youthful fingertips—is what makes the New Year so special. When that countdown started and the ball began to drop, what was going through everyone’s head? (Besides, “Okay, who am I going to make out with at midnight?”) Most everyone was probably thinking, “Out with the old and in with the new! This is my time to change! New year! New me! Yahoo!” Which brings me to the other crazy thing about the New Year. It gives people this sudden motivation—this hope for a fresh start—to be the person they have always wanted to be.

From January 1st until maybe January 10th (and that’s me being generous), we go to the gym everyday. We eat salad for all three meals. We keep our closet neat and tidy. We go on Facebook for only an hour a day instead of all day, everyday. We try to be better versions of ourselves. We make these grand resolutions to improve, to change and to be better people. I know that many people believe resolutions are short-lived, cheesy, unrealistic and pointless, but I think there’s something worthwhile about setting realistic and achievable goals for yourself. I really recommend that you all write your own letters to your future self. (Editor’s Note: This is a great site that lets you send an email to your future self on whatever date you choose.) Write about what you want for yourself a year from now, write about what want for the people you love, write about how you’re going to make a difference, write about what you accomplished this year for yourself, by yourself, and most importantly, write about what you are going to do to make yourself happy in 2013.

The New Year can be filled with the pressures to make everything happen and to have the “best year ever,” but it’s okay to make small changes that help you build the road to something bigger and better. In your letter, be confident. Be thoughtful and complimentary. Brag a little. Pat yourself on the back. Make sure to reflect back on the good times you had in 2012, but also dream about what’s ahead in 2013. Start a plan to make a change that you think is reachable and attainable and for the better. I don’t think that there is a better time to change something in your life that’s not working for you than January 1st. Wipe that slate clean. We got this, guys.

For more Confessions of a Twenty-Something, check the archives!

Katie has recently finished her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

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