Usually sometime in January, I write down a list of the things I’d like to try and accomplish during the upcoming year. It’s usually not a long list, and I’m not very intense about it, and I usually only accomplish one or two things on the list (and this is often based on the fact that one to two things on my list are things that I think I will likely accomplish). However, I enjoy doing some thinking about how my life has gone for the past year and what I’m trying to envision for the upcoming year.
Except this year I’m not sure if I want to write up a list.
There has only been one year of my life that has been more painful and transformative than this past year: the final year of college when I was diagnosed with severe depression (which later turned out to be bipolar disorder) and almost had to drop out of school and had to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t live the kind of life I had been living up to that point.
This past year, while the lows have not been as all-encompassing, life has been rough, and the end isn’t in sight. The issues I’m struggling with are here to stay, at least for the time being.
I also underwent a pretty significant life change by leaving behind an unwritten dissertation (which I may or may not finish) and deciding to move in with my parents and get a job as a high school English teacher. This job and move have been blessings. And teaching brings me joy and is exactly what I want to be doing with my life right now.
There are good transformative things happening in my life right now, but as I think about this upcoming year, I freeze. I cannot envision a way out of the painful mess that is my personal life. And I’m too afraid to set professional (and other related concrete) goals. Watching myself unable to write a sentence of my dissertation this past year and half reminded my again starkly of the struggles my senior year of college and the difficulty of trying to envision a future that I cannot bring into fruition because of my limitations. I wonder: if I hope that X will happen, or if I work towards Y, will I be disappointed yet again because it’s something that I can’t physically or emotionally handle?
I think if I create any kind of list, it will be one of affirmations or hopes, such as “I will try to think of myself as a valuable person” and “I will try to continue to find joy in teaching,” because those kinds of things are the kinds of things I feel I can hang onto right now.
Otherwise, I think I am just going to allow myself to be open to further changes and transformations that I hope will come this year. One of the quotes on our blog reads, “At the end of my suffering, there was a door” (Louise Gluck). This year I am hoping for that door to show up, and when it does, I will try to have the courage to step through it. I hope I am not disappointed.