A year ago today my life was rather different. I remember sitting on my bed curled up with Carter as we were watching the season 3 finale of Downton Abbey, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of a girl I considered to be one of my dearest friends. She arrived shortly before the shockingly disturbing finale–which made it easier because there are certain things one should never watch alone. Later that evening we met the guy I was dating at the time for dinner and drinks with his delightful siblings. The evening passed in a chaotic whirlwind of driving around Jacksonville searching for new adventures. We rang in the new year with fireworks and I remember thinking what a crazy way to start/end a year!
Today, neither the guy nor the friend and I are in touch any longer. Time changes much. I am celebrating the new year with a glass of wine and a great book–You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day–in the comfort of my Boston apartment.
And I solidly think that I am a happier person.
Perhaps not circumstantially. Spending the holidays alone in a city where you don’t really know anyone can weigh on one’s spirits and there’s no denying that the past few months have been some of the most tumultuous of my life. I have lost friends through both distance and death. I have moved away from everything that I knew to a place where I felt as though I was fighting to stay afloat. For the first time in my life I truly felt as though I was failing at everything and then something incredible happened…
A few years ago I wrote a blog about a story a friend shared with me about the last thing his grandfather said to him. “Move with grace. It’s just pain.” (Talk about brilliant last words!) From the start I was struck by the subtle beauty of those words, and how easy it is to forget that in the end we either survive the difficult moments in our lives and ultimately grow from them or we don’t. Looking back on old blogs I am always a bit amazed by how much we can change in a few short years. My entire worldview seems different from the girl who wrote those words, but the power of that one phrase remains the same.
2015 had its dark times, but it was also a year filled with quite a few beautiful moments. I moved to a beautiful new city on my own. I saw a few of my favorite artists in concert (particularly Mumford and Sons on my birthday and Greg Holden/Ingrid Michaelson!) I fell in love with the pacific northwest. I visited Robert Frost’s farm and hiked in New Hampshire. I completed my first semester of graduate school, and I have not one, but two new jobs awaiting me in the new year. When I look back on this year I really hope that what I remember most of all is that 2015 was the year that I took a lot of chances and followed my dreams.
There were a lot of ups and a lot of downs, and I have to say that when I look back on 2015 I refuse to see it as anything other than enlightening. This was the year that I learned to love myself in new, empowering ways. In true India fashion I’d like to share a few of the best things I’ve learned:
- There is a difference between being alone and being lonely, and sometimes both are needed. Being alone helps you to find yourself. When you eliminate outside influences you are left with only yourself and those times of being alone are so important for your personal growth. Feeling lonely can be crushing. It has the ability to pull you deeper and deeper into its darkness, but those periods of loneliness help you to fully appreciate the beautiful people that you do have in your life and also to seek out new ways to connect with the world. Heidi Priebe wrote a beautiful blog on the importance of loneliness. You can read it here.
- Distance helps you figure out the friendships that last, but don’t discredit the ones that fall behind. This might have been the most difficult lesson for me to learn, but the that old saying about people being in your life for a season is true. Remember the good times, but don’t be afraid to leave people in your past. It’s not a lack of love. It’s just a growing process.
- Video chats are the absolute best. I couldn’t be more thankful for that technological advancement. Though, to be quite honest I wish we’d spent more of our time and resources on figuring out how to actually make teleportation possible, but I’ll take video chatting until then.
- It matters that you take the time to truly appreciate the people that care about you. Writing letters, sending gifts, making phone calls…I often feel as though these things should go without saying, but being separated from so many of the people that I love I have found a new found appreciation for both the giving and the receiving of these tiny moments that say, “Hey, I care about you and I just wanted to let you know.”
- Take care of your body as well as your mind. It’s so easy to wear ourselves out with stress and just the weight of the world and we often put a lot of emphasis on being healthy physically, but mental health is equally important. Taking time to mediate—allowing yourself time to just give you mind a break. It makes a huge difference on the way you face the world. Of all of the new habits I adopted in 2015 I think my growing yoga/mediation practice was the most beneficial. It has made me stronger both physically and mentally and that was my ultimate goal for 2015!As the new year dawns I couldn’t be more excited for where my life is headed. 2016 will undoubtedly have its challenges, but I will do my best to face them with grace and keep going.
I hope the best for you as well.
People will disappoint you and wrong you, but they will also defend you and fight for you and bowl you over with kindness. We are all such radiant fuckups — we have to remember this and love one another for it. And even when it seems impossible, we have to be good to one another, to extend an open hand, to try to bring the light back in to illuminate the darkness.-Cody Gohl
P.S. If you’re curious about the books I read in 2015–and the ones that I’ll be reading in 2016 you should check out my new book blog!