Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: My Year Of Discovery (A Humbling Year)

I'd be lying if I said I was sad to see 2015 go.

Was it a bad year? God no. But it's been an emotional year, a humbling year, a year of many, many ups and downs. And I can't wait to see what 2016 brings.

I've never made a big deal of the new year. I've never made resolutions. Maybe I've never had a year worth saying goodbye to.

But 2015 was different. January was the first time in 14 years that I was unemployed. It was the first time I wouldn't be able to rely on a paycheck. I left my job of 7 years. A company I had helped build, I was leaving behind. I packed up my apartment, said goodbye to my friends and family. I was starting a new journey.

Central America. Developing countries I only knew from my travel books. After my month of volunteering I had no concrete plan. I was truly on my own and it was exciting. I met some truly incredible people that first month. I let everything go: I napped in hammocks, I went to the beach, I climbed volcanoes, I ziplined, I went caving, I watched a million sunsets, a couple sunrises and went cliff diving. And that was only the first 5 weeks. I got certified for open water diving, went volcano boarding, snorkeling, hiked mountains, jumped off waterfalls, napped some more, hitchhiked, and went everywhere barefoot. I tried some amazing food and ate a lot of ice cream.

I also cried. I had a couple melt downs. I was at times extremely lonely. I felt insecure. I felt depressed. I was on the other side of the world from the people I needed a hug from. I didn't live every day to the fullest. Some days I stayed inside and read or watched movies. I realized that that was okay to do. Some people can always be on the go, I cannot. Some people easily make new friends, I do not. But the friends I did make? God I love them. I miss them so much. Funny how you can get to know so much about someone when you're on the other side of the world together. I missed home but I didn't want to go home.

I came home in May. To say that it was hard would be an understatement. I was an asshole. I was irritable and short-tempered. I lashed out at my family. I had no idea what I wanted to do next and kept changing my mind. My first thought was that I wanted save money and go right back out there, discover somewhere new. That dream quickly shattered as I realized how much debt I had and how long it would take me to save any money. I thought I wanted to save the world, go back to school, move to another country, I was lost. That is a terrifying feeling. I was applying to jobs and getting interviews and not getting hired. I questioned my skills, I questioned what type of job I wanted, I questioned myself. I had no idea what to apply to, what to look for. I was unemployed and angry. I didn't hide that from anybody.

Then came summer. Summer saved me. I got to see my friends again, I went to a music festival, and camping and hiking, visited my relatives in BC and ate lots of ice cream. Sound familiar? Being outdoors saved me. I made new friends and fell in love. I grew, I cared about who I wanted to be and was able to laugh and a little bit of the weight was lifted off my chest. I still felt lonely and depressed and not myself at times, but I saw a little part of me that I had missed. Sometimes when you lose yourself, you can't put your finger on what's wrong. It isn't until you have a moment of happiness that sort of takes you by surprise that you see the part of you that was missing.

In the fall I started working again. Still living at home, I was able to work for my old bosses at one of their stores. I am so grateful that they welcomed me back, knowing that I was still looking for a job in Toronto. This was only a slight comfort when I bumped into old friends: married, babies, career - while I was 30, living at home and working retail. I kept reminding myself that I had chosen this path, that I had chosen to leave everything to travel and experience the world. That was easier to say when I was on the other side of the world.

I guess I forgot to mention that I turned 30 over the summer. It's not as terrifying as everybody makes it out to be. Of course, by now I thought I would have a family, but things change and I'm not settling. I refuse to settle. Not in any aspect of my life. I might be crazy but it is a decision I will never regret. Still, being penniless, living at home and not being able to get a job does sting.

This is why I've always lived for the little things. Ask anybody, I laugh easy. I delight in the small things. A fresh baked croissant, a hug from a missed friend, a night in catching up on everything, scaring the shit out of someone by sneaking up on them. These things make me happy. Oh and poop jokes.

So what happened this winter? I had a low key, wonderful Christmas with my family. I accepted a job offer in Toronto that I am ecstatic to start. I start a new adventure.

2015 was full of discovery, learning, and experiences of every kind. I can't wait to see what 2016 holds.

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