I attended a Christmas party on Saturday night, at which a peculiar, eye-opening and unexpected thing occurred.
I am not speaking of drinking games, nude twister or exorcisms (I once attended a party where someone attempted an “intervention exorcism”. I couldn’t make that shit up if I tried).
What took place was an outpouring of honest admissions of struggle.
We were all standing around the kitchen, helping the host with the dishes, when my friend Emma (who is a reiki-master-slash-soul-reader – yes that is a thing) suggested we each share what we were grateful for in 2013 and what we looked forward to in 2014.
Keep in mind, I mix in circles of comedians, immaculately groomed gay men and their hags, so sincere emotional expression is a rare happening. There was an audible exhale from about 5 of us and then variations on the statement, “I am grateful that it is nearly over” were expressed. I found this both surprising and reassuring.
It turns out this year has been a bloody tough one for a lot of my friends. I had no idea of that fact; I thought it had just been me struggling. My mates (as is the case with most people) tend to only post the highlights of their lives on Facebook and leave the tough stuff for the sleepless nights.
When it was my turn to express what I was grateful for and what I was looking forward to, I found myself momentarily paralysed by the thought of having to find something positive to say about the past year.
In terms of shit years, I’ve had an absolute belter. I am not going to bore you with the details but the headlines are:
1. Marriage ended.
2. Lost best friend due to said best friend making up that she had cancer.
3. Lost house.
4. Lost job.
5. Moved back in with my parents.
Now, I know there are people in the world with far bigger troubles than I but it’s all relative right?
To be perfectly honest it’s feels like someone placed a fucking grenade in the middle of my existence and I am now wandering on the torn up field that is my life, trying to put the pieces back together that just don’t fit anymore.
As bizarre as this is going to sound, I think that is what I am grateful for.
This year has been such an intense period of personal growth for me, none of which would have happened if I had been content and comfortable with things. I have been forced to examine my own life, behaviours and beliefs and had to face some universal truths. It has been a painful year but one rich in experience. I can actually feel the change that has happened within me, my priorities have shifted and I am becoming more of the person I would like to be, rather than the one I thought other people wanted me to be.
Am I starting to sound like I have joined a cult?!
I know inspirational quotes are mostly considered naff and gag-inducing but the one I am about to share resonated with me, is poignant for the current time and is written in red lipstick on my mirror at home, so you’ll all indulge me for a moment, right?
Nelson Mandela said: “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”
You see, a year ago, I would have stood in front of my friends and given the Facebook version of my life. I would have painted a picture of success, happiness and achievement. Of which I did have some. But that was not really an accurate depiction of my 2013. So I told the truth to my friends and in turn they told their truths. It turns out 2013 has been unkind to a lot of them but we all admitted that we learned things we would not have uncovered otherwise.
So I’ll share with you what I said to them. I am grateful for the challenging year I’ve had, the friends who supported me through it and for the discovery that I truly have balls of steel. I look forward to next year being one of new experiences, opportunities and people that I am now only open to because of the things I have learned this year.
I have paraphrased myself there. The actual version involved a bit more swearing, wine and snot-crying, but you get the gist. So, I now turn it out to you lot. What are you grateful for from 2013 and what are you hopeful for from 2014?
Drop some truth bombs, y’all.
Yours in self reflection,
What are you grateful for, and what are you hopeful for?