31 December 2011

Year End Review

I remember reaching the end of 2010 and feeling completely overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessings I'd been given. 2010 was a good year. 2009 was as well, for that matter. I'd gone to England, started and finished my first year of teaching, got a new job and reached the half way point of my second year of teaching - I'd made some incredible, life-changing friendships and had the privilege of performing one of my dream parts on stage. I felt closer to the direction and guidance of the Lord than I ever had been in my life. Things were good.

This year. . .oh this year. My Christmas newsletter write up last year was way too long. This year it looked something like: "Joni worked. . . and worked some more. She hopes next year involves more theater and travel." Two sentences. That's it. I look at the end of 2011 and am quite tempted to spin the clock forward a few hours in an attempt to welcome a new year. 2011 was hard. It was emotionally and physically draining. A year of solid work with very few breaks, even during the summer. No theater. Only minimal travel. A seemingly endless battle with my own emotions and trying to conquer feelings of inadequacy and depression that were almost cruel at times. Not easy. Not fun.

But with all of this not fun-ness and depression comes the opportunity now for me to rest. To stop for a moment and look at how far I've come and realize the hard-won blessings and growth of the year.

For example, I'm learning for the first time in my life to love myself as I am. My talkative and confident public persona often hides a person completely unsure of herself. Combine that with a genetic born desire to please others and you have a recipe for a person easily confused and pressured into doing and feeling things to please others. I don't mean to say that this year has made me more selfish - but I do think I am leaving this year less easily swayed into trying to please everyone around me by being what I think everyone wants me to be. It's a valuable lesson. For the first time in a while, I feel peace with who I am now, not just focussing on who I want to be in the future.

For another, I'm learning to be happy with where I am in life. It is easy - so easy - in this part of the world to look around and feel behind. To feel as though where I am now is less important or valuable to me than if I were to be doing what everyone else around me seems to be doing. But I like what I do. I love teaching. (I love, heaven forbid, being single*.) And instead of seeing these things as temporary or unnecessary or of less worth to me than a life of changing diapers, I've seen the value in embracing the journey I am on, not the one Jane Doe across the street is on. I still have goals and dreams and desires for the future, but not having those things here, now, is no reason to feel guilty about being happy with things I have now that I really do like. I'm done feeling socially guilty.

So, 2011. . .you were a bit of a pain. One of those years that I'll look at years down the road and be really grateful for, I'm sure. But for now, I intend to blow an obnoxious celebratory horn quite loudly at midnight and drink a glass of Martinelli's in honor of your death. Then I'm going to cuddle with 2012 until it succumbs to giving me the theater time I am in desperate need of.

Happy New Year!

*Most of the time. On laundry/cleaning/shopping day, it would definitely be nice to have some help. Also when my bed is a little too cold.

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