I’m not sure if it’s a bit early for annual reflections. We haven’t even had Christmas yet.
But this post has been sitting in my head for some time. And in the eventuality that on New Year’s Eve I will be too busy partying to be posting, I hope you will forgive my prematurity. And the reflective tone. Because honestly? I am far more comfortable in humour than I am in, well, this.
2013 has been a real mixed bag. I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. At times 2013 has really showed its unlucky side. My personal misfortune has been very minor compared to some of the things I’ve witnessed. But we can always say this. There is always someone worse off than us. What we must remember is that our personal misfortune is just that. Personal. And painful.
2013 has been the year that’s knocked me. In one way and another. Cumulatively, these relatively small things have made me wake up and realise I am not infallible. That I am vulnerable. This has been a scary and unwelcome realisation. More so with having young children who depend on me for so much.
I have struggled to find strength when I’ve needed it most. Because it’s hard to be strong when you’re suddenly ever so slightly afraid of the future. When you haven’t yet discovered your resilience. The very nature of resilience means that you can’t even begin to possess it until you’re actually challenged. Well, I’ve laid a few foundations this year.
And yet it is easy (and our natural tendency) to dwell on all the ‘bad’ things that have happened and forget the good. And, when I allow myself to think about it, there has been a lot of good. I realised this the other day when I had a message from an old school friend I haven’t been in touch with in 20 years. She’d come across my book, read it and taken the trouble to write to me and tell me how much she’d enjoyed it. Meanwhile, most days I forget I even wrote a book. Let alone that anyone is actually reading it. Beyond my mum.
So no, I haven’t demonstrated strength this year. But through losing my way, feeling a lack of purpose and wondering ‘what’s next?’ I do end 2013 with something I didn’t start it with. A dream I’ve had since I was young. I am writing. And I absolutely know that I wouldn’t have done this if a little adversity hadn’t crossed my path.
And writing is so liberating. Whether you like doing it. Or whether you like reading it. We all need words to make sense of our world. I can’t summarise it better than the writer, A L Kennedy, who recently spoke at Blogfest (the following quote is taken from The Pigeon Pair and Me’s fabulous review):
Write with love for your audience. Bear in mind that, in writing, you are doing something that is the opposite of dying. You are keeping someone company.
When I read this, it stopped me in my tracks. Because in my vulnerable and anxious moments, I instinctively turn to writing. And in those moments I feel alive and fearless.
So to all of you who read my blog, I thank you for giving me this outlet. You have kept me company. You have kept me sane(ish). And I am ever so grateful for your support.
If 2013 has been a difficult year for you, if it’s been disappointing, surprising or completely shaken you to your core, know that when you have been feeling uncertain or in pain you have also been building foundations. Foundations of resilience that will see you into a stronger future. As a stronger version of yourself.
Also remember that in vulnerability there is always company. Because rarely is there a person who doesn’t feel adrift at least some of the time.
We’re in this together.
This wonderful, uncertain and sometimes scary thing called life.