Every cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes. It’s supposed to mean that even the worst circumstances have some aspect of good about them. It’s just that though; an aspect. Yes, every cloud has a silver lining, but that doesn’t negate the fact that there’s still a big cloud looming overhead.
Maybe that’s cynical of me. It’s just that when I’ve often heard this idiom used, the speaker is trying to ignore the presence of the “cloud.” That doesn’t help anyone. Pretending everything is okay when it clearly is not doesn’t solve any problems.
All this to say, I’m in a rather cloudy season right now. (I usually hate when people talk about “seasons” of life but since I’m already using weather metaphors I’ll let it slide.) I am trying to find the silver linings, but the fact is that I am still sad, angry, and discouraged.
I’ve been going back and forth about writing this post for almost two weeks now. I don’t want to just be another voice on the internet throwing a pity party because life is terrible right now, but at the same time, I’ve always found writing to be one of the things that brings comfort. As for publishing it for all the world to see – well, I don’t know. Perhaps we’ll learn something along the way (but I make no promises).
I like setting goals for myself if for no other reason than the fact that I like the illusion of accomplishment. We can debate whether or not reading a certain number of books is actually making a difference in the grand scheme of things, but hey, at least I actually did something. If nothing else, I think goal-setting helps us prioritize, and they teach us patience and perseverance.
There’s nothing really special about the first day of the year – it’s just another day, so what? But for whatever reason, when humans made calendars, they designated this specific day as the beginning of a “new year.” And we like new things. They’re scary sometimes, sure, but they also feel full of opportunity. So yes, setting goals for a year is somewhat arbitrary, but I think it’s good to capitalize on that optimism and use it to make changes that will go beyond the next twelve months.
All that being said, today I’m going to review my goals from 2019 and rate myself on how well I did, and then look ahead to what I want to do in 2020.
It’s the end of another year, and also the end of another decade. If you’re worried that I’m going to make you endure a ten-year retrospective like every other content creator on the internet seems to be doing, let me put your fears to rest: I’m not. I can barely remember what I did ten days ago, let alone ten years ago. And while you might be entertained by a cringeworthy look back at my pre-teen years, that’s a trip down memory lane I’m gonna pass on.
As is tradition though, I am going to wrap up 2019 with a look back at my favorites from the year. I promise you I’ll keep it concise, so without further ado, on to the lists!
And we’re back! Thanks for sticking with me the last few weeks everyone – I promise this will be worth the wait!
In case you missed it, I spent the last three weeks on a “cross-cultural” trip with my school – basically, a three-week term in another country with the goal of providing a more hands-on learning experience. Our trip took us to Strasbourg, France, located in the eastern region of Alsace (practically sitting on the German border). Most of our trip was spent in Strasbourg and the surrounding area, with a final three days in Paris.
When I was a kid, I was terrified of flying in airplanes. Not because I didn’t like heights, or because I thought we would all crash and die or anything. I knew that was highly unlikely – my dad used to explain to me how planes had a gazillion safety features, and how they could land anywhere, even in the water, if they needed too. So, in the event of a bizarre aircraft malfunction, I knew that I would probably be fine.
No, what I was terrified of more than anything was losing my favorite stuffed animal in the event that our hypothetical flight had to make an emergency water landing. I was incredibly distraught when I learned that luggage usually did not make it out of situations like that. So I, at whatever young age I was, resolved to never, ever fly in an airplane, especially over water.
I am pleased to report that I did eventually overcome this (perhaps irrational) fear. I actually took my first flight when I was in middle school for a class-related trip, and it was without my parents if you can even believe it. I survived. And I’ve taken plenty of flights since then, the Florida, California, Arizona, and Montana. Now, I’ve learned that of all the things to complain about on a flight, safety is usually not one of them. You can complain about the cramped seats and you can complain about the food, but ultimately, safety is not usually one of the main concerns. And I’m glad about that, because of all the things that I have to be terrified about for this upcoming trip, I’m glad that flying is not one of them.
I had different post planned for this week, and then my body decided we were due for another cold. I spent most of the weekend sleeping and chugging DayQuil, and I didn’t really feel up to writing what I’d originally intended.
But since International Women’s Day was this past Friday (March 8), I thought it would be nice to write a little thank you note of sorts:
Some of us might argue that setting goals for the new year is overrated, and I’m inclined to agree. As BlimeyCow so well explained in one of their recent videos, picking some far-off day in the future to make a change in your life isn’t always helpful in the end.
Even so, I still like the idea of setting goals and looking back at the end of the year and seeing how far I’ve come. But even if they’re goals for the year, I still take it one day at a time. Forget to write one day? Well, there’s always tomorrow. A setback on Monday doesn’t mean I can’t jump back on Tuesday and try again.
With that in mind, I want to look back on how I did with the goals I set for myself in 2018, then look ahead at what I want to do better in 2019.
Recently, I committed the English major’s unpardonable sin.
Plagiarism? No, worse than that – I admitted that I haven’t read the Harry Potter series.
You would think from the scandalized gasps that I’d just admitted to first-degree murder, but that was not the case. Nope, I just haven’t read one of the most beloved fantasy series of all time.
Now, granted, I did pick up the first few books in my late teens, but I never finished the series due to (buckle your seatbelts) a lack of interest. That has actually been my reason for avoiding them all along – my parents never told me I wasn’t allowed to read the books, which might have been a more acceptable excuse at my religious college. No, the reason I didn’t read Harry Potter was because I didn’t want to.
You might be wondering, why didn’t I want to? I’ve always loved reading, and I don’t have anything against fantasy novels. Why didn’t I devour the Harry Potter series like the rest of my peers?
The answer is right there: everyone else was doing it, and therefore, I didn’t want to.
Anyone who’s ever written anything has probably sat down in front of their computer or notebook, all set to write, when they suddenly realize there’s a big problem – they’ve got nothing. All the ideas decided to flee the country as soon as they saw that blank page.
The typical solution is to just start writing anyway, even if it’s slow and painful at first. Even if you have to force the words out of your brain and onto the page, before you know it, writer’s block is a thing of the past.
At least, that’s usually what happens. But when writer’s block comes back day after day and the thought of sitting down to create something makes you feel hollow instead of joyful, it might be time to consider a different approach.
This week marks a month into the school semester, and trust me, I can feel it. Things have calmed down since that first overwhelming week of class, but I still find myself pretty busy with my jobs, classes, homework, and other commitments. Some days I float on, totally fine, situation normal. Other days, I have to work to keep my head above the ocean of tasks.
Each week has its mix of good and bad days, but the past week in particular felt like I was barely treading water. I had some fun things planned for the weekend, so I decided I was going to take a “vacation” – I wasn’t going to worry about all of the nonsense that was cluttering my brain, I was just going to enjoy the things I had planned.