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A collection of essays on media, pop culture, art analysis, relationships and femininity. Basically, subjects of interest to the Thoughtful Woman navigating a sometimes uncomfortable existence in the Modern World. 

2017 & Now What?

Lana C. Marilyn

A week into the new year, I texted this boy I'm fond of to say that I hoped 2017 had been treating him well so far. "It's going as well as it can be but time doesn't mean anything to me," came his reply. I was at work when he responded and I laughed out loud. It was exactly the kind of thing I should've expected him to say, and I think I love him for it, those kind of responses. Because then I stop and I think about it, and I'm like, of course time is meaningless to you. But you know. I guess it isn't meaningless to me. 

It's a week into the New Year, and I can't even be sure I started it off on the right foot. 2017 started and I was busy issuing apologies. On New Year's Eve, I had ruined my dinner plans, deeply disappointed someone very close to me, and apparently one of my other friends was convinced I hated her. And, just the day before all this chaos, I had heard back from one of my dearest, longlost friends who hadn't answered a single one of my texts, calls or voicemails in the last six months. For 2017, my hair was frizzy, my anxiety was through the roof, and my phone was on "do not disturb". It was...a wreck. 

But it's better now! Because I said sorry, and I cleared things up, and I threw an amazing event two days ago, and I'm trying to move forward. I'm doing my best, at least. 

It is January 8th, 2017 and...I'm doing my best. 

I'm still figuring out and writing down my New Years Resolutions. 

Resolutions are a big deal to me. I like them a lot because it helps me to put my life, and myself, into focus. It's a lot like my writing process. Before I write, I make this big list of what's supposed to happen and then I try to use it as a skeleton to flesh out my ideas around. I don't end up with a perfect body, but I usually get the makings of some kind of recognizable form, something functional. Something I can start with. 

Resolutions are a lot like that. They're not promises or ultimatums. They're goals, they're assessments of my character, my dreams, and...my limitations. At the end of the year, I look back on what did and did not get done. I get a receipt of my failures and my priorities and my potential. For me, it's constructive.

So yes, I do resolutions.

I've been big on resolutions for the past five or six years in a row. They've shifted from lofty dreams to practical things so that I can be better at holding myself accountable. I also started doing this thing a few years back called a "Word Goal". It's supposed to be a single word that sums up what I want to manifest in my life for the coming year. 

2013: Progress
2014: Create
2015: Becoming
2016: Productivity

And this year? Communication. 

From 2015:

Word Goal of The Year: Becoming. I feel that there have been a lot of “firsts” in the last year? Like, I’ve begun ‘traveling, I’ve begun experimenting with intimacy, I changed schools, I strengthened my relationships, I landed a job that I actually like a lot. I feel like I’m learning to challenge myself as a writer, I feel like I’m solidifying certain relationships and reaching an understanding of what I am seeking not only from other people from life itself. I would like to expand that in 2015. I want to focus on experiences that will enrich and benefit me. I want to focus on becoming myself. 

I think I succeeded in the becoming stage. At the beginning of 2015, I was transitioning to new things. The year was about me trying to figure myself out in the midst of those transitions. As I wavered between who I was and who I might be, under the right circumstances.

 In Spring 2015,  for example, I took my first linguistics course and unearthed a new set of natural skills waiting to reveal themselves. Over the summer, I got my heart broken, kind of. I was starting over and fumbling through things, but I like to think I was happy. I threw myself a really great birthday in July and shortly after, I met someone who now has a solidified place of importance and value in my life.

Obviously it's hard to summarize a year of experiences in a paragraph, but my point is that I wanted to kick off my 20's with a sense of growth, and I did. I learned that, most importantly, that I can't change fundamental things about myself to appease others. I learned to own my feelings. And I became a better person for it.

Last January, I wrote: "Aim to make things. Try to focus on being creative prolifically, constantly churning out content that you feel proud of. Experimentation. Aim to be happy. To feel good. Try to just take chances with your art, make new things, challenge yourself as an individual." 

The Happy Jar:

Starting in 2016 (?), I started this idea of a happy jar. You take an empty mason jar, and every time a good thing happens, you write it down on a post-it with the date, an add it to the jar. Mine was pathetically scarce cause I'm bad at these things, but the notes that made it were my milestone moments, the moments that brought me joy, the moments that made me feel good about my path. For 2017, I'd like to try again.

In the beginning of 2016, I was ripening bit by bit, and feeling propelled by this new momentum. This was shortly after having developed The Lit Exhibit a few months prior and drafted plans to publish my first book and launch a gallery all in one. I felt inspired, I felt capable, and I was meeting new people.

Looking back, I find something charming now in the realization that I began and ended the year with repairing broken relationships: Three days into January, a boy texted me an apology for ghosting on me, and two days before the end of 2016, a different one resurfaced from off the grid. In both instances, I was grateful. I begin and end with the themes of reconciliation and renewal wrapped around me.

Retrospect reveals this was a recurrence all along: 

  • In October, I reconnected with a fellow writer from my graduating class who I had never spoken to in high school. But now we're friends, and she's been to my last two events.
  • An old friend who I hadn't seen since 2014 visited twice this past Fall, in September and December.
  • Over the summer, I met up for lunch in Chinatown with a girl I went to middle school with, whom I hadn't seen in four years, and it was great. We had bubble tea and laughed a lot and it wasn't awkward.
  • I grew a lot closer to eldest cousins as a result of inadvertently integrating myself into his circle of friends. I don't think we'd been very close before that.

I was reconnecting, and I was meeting new people in between strengthening my ties with old ones. Over the course of 2016 I published a book, hosted a gallery and a workshop, and all three of those things were "firsts". I dived fearlessly into new territory and came out of it accomplished and wiser, and now I feel driven by all that. By my ability to socialize and to put things into motion. 

So yeah, I feel motivated and capable. But my personal life needs tending as well, which is why I'm stepping back to assess that if I'm gonna be building this new support system and network, I need to do better to nurture and maintain it. With community comes communication. 

2017 Word Goal: COMMUNICATE. Learn to not get flustered when expressing yourself. Practice being blunt but not vulgar. Say what you mean - own your voice. Be confident in what you say.  Exhibit honesty at all times. 

I have a *lot* to learn and practice when it comes to communicating. When it comes to the upkeep of stable and healthy interpersonal relationships. I want to hold myself accountable, I want to not only do more amazing things, but connect better. To do that, I have to learn to break down discomfort when it rises. I need to feel like my words matter so I can stop brushing them, and myself, under the table. 

I'm still figuring out my resolutions. Most are writing goals: more events, more published work, more projects to release. But there aren't many about ME and my needs as a person. I think it's funny, that I pushed two years ago to "become" myself and now I'm at risk of drowning myself in my passions. So 2017 will, for me, be as much about DOING as it is about RECONNECTING. With myself. With others. With my writing and my creative endeavors and my ideas. With my wants and needs. So I'm looking forward to that. To this next, uncertain leg of the journey. 

I'm looking forward to everything this new year has to offer.