last letter of the year
Dear Year 2000,
Thank God you’re almost over.
You were hardest, worst, most incredibly painful year I’ve ever had. Starting from day one when I had bronchitis, followed by quitting smoking, followed by cedar fever and the start of the worst personal pain I’ve ever been in in my entire life, which pretty much stuck around until the end.
You’ve changed who I am. I started the year a rather happy, almost perky, strange young girl. Now that I’m looking back over the past three hundred and sixty-something days, I can’t help but feel quite different. The way I look at myself is different. The way I look at other people.
You’ve changed even my journal. You changed a place where I could go and write whatever was on my mind to a place where I go to be happy for a little while. Even when my world was crumbling around me, this place was where I’d put on a smile for some time. Sometimes I hated that. I hated feeling like a liar. I hated feeling like I couldn’t be honest in this public place. But sometimes I’m really grateful that there’s somewhere I can go and be happy, even when I’m crying while I type. A place that doesn’t judge me too harshly. A place where I am always a princess.
This year I’ve lost family members, animals, and almost lost so much more. I’ve dealt with the pain of family problems, the pain of my love life getting rocked around and tested and stretched and abandoned and picked up again and dusted and bruised and twisted and confused. I’ve dealt with lots of confusion. I’ve lost friends. I’ve said goodbye to others.
I’ve made some incredible friends. I made close girlfriends, which I’m so grateful for. I made a best friend that changed so much in my life. I’ve also reunited with some friends that are incredibly important to me. I’ve gotten a stronger relationship with my sister. I got to say goodbye to my grandmother’s house and met these people that are related to me that I’ve never been able to meet before. I got to see my cousin get married. I saw my parents with their arms around each other, dreaming and thinking of their days back when they first met, wondering if they can go back home again. I’ve seen the smile of a boy telling me that he loves me. I’ve had friends confess their deepest thoughts for me, and I to them, even if it was at the last moment we were going to be together for a while.
I changed my entire job situation. I went from a day job with security and benefits and what people consider “a good job” to making my own website and freelance work become “my job,” which is terrifying and heady at the same time. I am suddenly making my own hours and my co-workers are my cats. Some days this is very hard. Some days I feel incredibly blessed. It’s both very scary and makes me feel quite fulfilled. I got to speak at web conferences about things that I’ve learned and sometimes I just remind myself that I have an acting degree and wonder how I got to be where I am.
I worked with my comedy troupe. I wrote and performed a one person show. I auditioned for a well-known comedy company right after I got to LA and I got in. I write for a website that people recognize and praise. My friends are written about in Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Backstage West. I’m surrounded by incredibly talented, wonderful people that make me grow and challenge me and fill me with laughter and happiness. These are very good things.
My heart has been crushed so many times this year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. This year I’ve had to take a step back and for the first time in my life really look at who was in my life, what I was doing and figure out if it was enough. If I felt fulfilled– if I felt like I’d be okay if it all went away. For the first time in my life, I was thinking about my own independence. I wondered how I was going to feel like I was in control of my life. I never thought about those things before. I never really had to. Or, rather, I guess I chose not to. This year I had no choice. I had to take a giant step back and think about what was important to me. I had to figure out what I want to do with my life. What haven’t I done that I’ll regret if I don’t try? What makes me happy? What makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something? What makes me feel like I’m somebody? I’ve gone from incredibly girl power to a big ball of self-loathing and back to girl power because of you.
I’ve never considered the fact that perhaps I was a crazy girl before. This year there were several moments when I thought, perhaps, I wasn’t going to make it to the end of the year alone. I continue to be terrified of the future, but for the first time in a long time, I’m not so much scared of it as much as I am excited to find out what’s going to happen to me. People keep saying, “Everything works out for the best.” I try not to listen to that, as it seems that it can’t possibly all work out for the best. But part of me really wants to believe that. Part of me knows that the changes and choices I’ve made this year– the biggest choices I’ve ever made in my life– are all pushing me towards something. Something larger than maybe I can even imagine.
2000 was a year full of pain and new experiences and discoveries and choices and decisions and confusion and questions and pain and tears and loss and gain and for the first time was a year where I thought an awful lot about myself. I know I usually put other people’s wants and desires in front of mine. I’ve always done that. I’ve always done what other people think I should do or want me to do. I always try and please others. This year I started putting my wants and desires first. Tenuously, but I’m getting better at it. I still falter. I still go back and just do what other people want, sometimes. But I don’t think that’s so much a setback, but is me learning when it’s best to do things that I want and when someone else’s wishes are more important. I’m always learning. I’m full of learning. This year has been all about learning.
So, thanks for changing me and making me stronger, 2000. I just wish you could have gone about it without all of the pain and the tears.
2001, I’ve decided, has to be the year where I learn why all of those things happened in 2000. People keep saying, “It has to get better.” God, it has to get better. Because if it gets worse, and I can see where it could get worse, I don’t know what I’ll do.
Yes, I do. I’ll change. I’ll get stronger. I’ll learn. That’s what 2000 has taught me. Anything thrown at me, I can deal with. With time, I can learn from it and decide what to do with it and change. Learn. I can find peace in pain. I can find where the good parts are. I can still find something to laugh about. I’m a grown-up and I make grown-up decisions and I can take care of myself. I think.
See? 2001 will still have some things to teach me. I don’t know everything yet.
So, bring it on, 2001. Show me what this past year was all for. Show me what I worked so hard to get. Amaze me. Please. I need good things. I need a year of good things.
I deserve a very good year after all of this.
Thanks for… something. Maybe later I’ll know what to thank you for. Right now, I’m just glad that you’re over. Just a couple of hours left, which I’ll celebrate with a new view in a new house in a new city with a new life. You did that, too, 2000. You did all sorts of things to me.