Three days. In three days 2014 will be but a memory as the clocks and calendars will click over into the future. There are plenty of folks in my facebook feed and twitter feed who are ready to pack 2014 into a space capsule and launch that sucker into the fiery sun with glee, I’m not here to argue with them. The last 365 days have been rough. With all the change in my life it’s been a turbulently bumpy road. There’s been plenty of tears, heartbreak and resigned sighs to fill every single Walmart from coast to coast.
But here’s the thing…and it’s a bit corny. So sigh if you must. I look at 2014 as a year that sucked. I halved my pay. I took on student loans. I started out as a supervisor at my new job and then six months later had to check my ego and pride to step down to a lower role. I found myself having to rethink my friends, my church and just about damn near everything about my life. But here’s the rub, dear reader – it was all absolutely necessary.
When you’re a kid you never really see the terrible truth of the adult world. You get glimpses and moments but it usually starts to pour in like a monsoon deluge when you get your first job. Car insurance. Phone bills. Paying for stuff because your parents see you have a job so that’s how it works. College is next, Student loans. Paying for stuff while you’re in school. And then you gotta find a job. Or you drop out of college.
This is where you find out if your ready to live in the adult world. You see, dear reader, the world requires you to grow up. It demands you take your place in the rat race and keep pace. You have to choose to change. To upgrade. Whatever adjective fits your moxy – apply it in place of mine. And it doesn’t just ask you once and leave you alone. It keeps pestering you. As each year passes life gives you the chance to adjust your settings. Your manners. The deeper ideas on who you are, what you are and all that business.
So the beauty of the end of each year is being able to step back and go, “OK. Who the hell am I? And do I need to be a better person after all the stuff I’ve endured this year?” Some people refuse to accept that the world is trying to tell them something. These are the people who never change. They just keep on going in their ways and means. These are people you usually don’t hang around very often because damn they are annoying/negative/awful/insert your own adjective here. And it only gets worse for them as the years begin to pile up.
I was in that world for 5 1/2 years in a dead end job that didn’t require me to change, grow up or do anything aside from show up and fit into a mold with spikes designed to demoralize me. If I was still in that job, I might not have made it. I had one panic attack that had me walk into the emergency department fearing I was going to have a heart attack, I was stressed when I got to work, I was stressed at work and I was stressed when I went home from work. And there was nowhere else to go but up into the awful upper management world that offered only more beatings and tears.
And so I hit a wall and fell. Hard. I had to rethink everything. I had to take stock of me. I even saw a counselor or two who suggested I may have experienced slight PTSD in my position. In a months time I searched endlessly for a job. Those were the loneliest days. My ego and pride were in the depths of the coal mines of my heart, desperately trying to find something that resembled my worth.
I found my worth over the next year. I got a job in the middle of November of 2013 and began the journey of learning everything I knew over again. How to work. How to take orders. How to accept blame. How to assign blame. When to let it go. When it hold the line. 2014 was underway soon enough and the rest is history, I started School in January with one class and soon followed that with four more in the fall. Four more classes await me in 2015.
What I realized over Christmas with my family is this – I wouldn’t have traded 2014. If I had to do it over again, I’d take up the struggle. Because without all of that I wouldn’t be here writing this today. I wouldn’t be two years from getting a teaching job. And I wouldn’t be near as happy as I am today with the choices I made.
So, yeah. 2014 was an awful year for me. I didn’t enjoy it. I had so much on my plates I resembled an overloaded member of the Denny’s waitstaff teetering towards a full table of hungry customers. But it was for a reason…and for a greater purpose. I can thank God for it because that’s who I rely on in the moments of struggle. I can take pride in myself because I survived it with some pretty amazing scars. And I can know that 2015 will have plenty more plate balancing and table serving waiting for me in just three days.
And that’s ok. There’s plenty more to learn about myself.