an open letter to 2017

Dear 2017,

Wow. What can I say? If anyone asked me to describe this year in one word I would say: Discovery. In all the best and worst ways. In preparation for this letter, I wrote out all the major things that happened to me this year month by month as a reference. Usually, someone can look back at two or three major things that took place in a year, but I feel as though every month there was something new I was feeling, experiencing, and adjusting to. I’ve never been through such emotional journeys and been okay/ proud to have done so. Now, I’m not the best writer and honestly I am looking forward to this year being over, no offense, but I feel as though I can’t wave goodbye just yet without saying these 5 thank you’s.

#1. Thank you for letting me hit rock bottom.

This was a year that I didn’t expect to feel so dark but it did. I remember bringing in the new year in New York City, a place where you’d think I dance under the stars, wear a sparkly dress, and be surrounded by tons of happy people, but we sorta missed the countdown trying to run to the roof to see fireworks. Ended up just saying  “Happy New Year’s” to strangers in a hallway. No sparkly dress, no parties. I remember being so excited to see fireworks on a rooftop in NYC, and then being disappointed. Now to most, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but to me, it was metaphoric….not that I would have admitted that at the time. Coming back home I had never felt so alone, and strange in my whole life. Weeks go by and I start to see a therapist. Depression she says. Anxiety and obsessive thoughts she says. Almost a grand later and my mental and emotional health become one of my main priorities. Never had it been this bad, the thoughts…..the darkness. I could have sworn I wouldn’t have made it out, you know, alive and all, but it got better. I discovered myself in a new way. I learned to look my insecurities in the face and then punch them really hard. I learned how to cope with all the new things I was feeling. I learned that things going on inside were not healthy or “okay” and I was glad I put myself first. I allowed myself to be a priority in a new way.

#2. Thank you for giving me space.

Growing up I loved being around people. I don’t know if it was the dancing or the acting or the being an only child thing, but I was comfortable with the attention. I was confident enough to hold my own, but this all hindered me from being able to look within. I was too busy for that, too stimulated by my own life to notice I was the one living it. This year I have spent the most time alone. I literally just had more time in my schedule to be alone, with my own company. At first it sucked, but eventually, I learned to love it. I think the therapy, the amount of pain and loss and confusion I have been through the last two years all lead me to change...even in my personality. I became more introverted, someone who needed space, and time, and silence. I wasn’t looking to fill every empty day with someone or something, I left it unplanned and untouched. I have really had to see myself for who I really am and then spend time with that. I think this was the best thing for me since quality time is my love language. The more time I spent with myself, doing things that made me happy, the more I learned to like myself.

#3. Thank you for new and old friendships.

Friendships had always been a struggle for me growing up. I could never really keep anyone around and I could never explain just why. I was insecure and broken. As I have gotten older, I had been blessed with two best friends who are still in my life today. But I decided, mainly because they both live in different cities, to open myself up to new friendships. I have gotten closer to people I would never expect to. Some of the people in my life that know the most about me, I would have never given the time of day to before. Being open to the right people has taught me a lot, healed me, and really allowed me to have hope again. Hope in myself and in others. I have learned so much from these friendships and most importantly I know that I have people in my life who love and care about me. This has gotta be the best feeling in the world.

#4. Thank you for the grace.

I should really be thanking God for this, but I think you and God had some sort of plan to join efforts for me this year, and for that, I am so very grateful. I really went through a lot of questions this year. The past 12 months has been a constant, “Well what does God think about this? Or this? How does He feel about this?” Learning that God is not afraid of my questions, and the idea that I want to get to know Him more has been comforting… freeing in a sense. This grace to explore God as I am, despite my failures, my fears and the way I hold back, it has given me the most real relationship with God than I ever have had. Growing up in church you go through some ups and downs in your faith and it’s important to understand fully what you stand and explore that. Believing in the word of God, holding that close to my heart and the way I choose to live my life, and being humble enough to accept God’s grace when I need it has changed me so much this year. I have truly discovered a new level of God and His love. I feel more free and confident to be myself. I truly know there is so much more to God, and that God wants to be VERY involved in every part of my life. He wants to be involved in every political debate, every law, every regulation, every friendship, everything. He has a stand on everything, and He has so much more love to give than you can imagine.

#5. Thank you for the dreams.

This year has been a year of truly coming to a place in myself where I am more confident and sure of who I am but also not afraid of the dreams I hold inside. I have discovered new dreams, awoken old ones and kept a tight grip on ones I have had for a while now. This year my creative juices were flowing, even if it wasn’t always showing outwardly. I have never had such a drive and desire to make dreams become a reality than I do now, and for that I thank you. This only gives me more and more hope for the next year of my life. For the first time ever, I am doing something crazy and scary for myself and myself only, and man does it feel good.

All in all, this year has been the best and worst year of my life. Don’t know how that is possible but it is. I am thankful for all the discoveries made and I hope that 2018 is a year those discoveries live themselves out more and more. I hope to build strength against the obstacles that have been thrown my way. That I don’t end the year in a hallway saying Happy New Year’s to random strangers…. but even if I do, that the metaphor this time will be new places, new faces. Writing this out has taken some time and forcing myself to write out what happened in my life month by month has been very therapeutic and humbling. I encourage everyone reading this to do the same. Write yourself a letter and then send it out, let it go, do whatever you need to to start fresh. 2018 is whatever you make it. You have the control to make it a great year. Remember that.

Amanda Smith1 Comment