To the right of my desk, I have a cork board. Through the year I pin up different memories I've had. Movie ticket stubs, favorite photos, programs from the theatre, etc. In December I clear it off, place all of the items in a box labeled for that year, and then begin placing new items up on the board. I put all of the Christmas cards I've received on first, so I have them up all year around.
Since 2017 is brand new, the only things, other than a couple wedding save the date cards, I see are Christmas cards. Having them sent to me through the month always makes me smile, and reminds me that I have more friends than I realize sometimes. I love see their life updates and happy faces looking out at me as I work on my computer on whatever project I have going at the moment.
Then comes the guilt.
Every year I intend to send out Christmas cards. I can find a favorite picture from the year, mail it out to my friends, and give them a quick update on my life.
But what would I say? What picture would I send?
"Merry Christmas! My dog Bandit is one year older this year. Isn't he adorable?"
Which... he is adorable and I'm sure people would love to see pictures of him.
Or maybe I could say "Look at how many books I've read this year! Isn't it so impressive?"
Which... yes, my 124 books I've read this year is impressive. But really?
When I see photos of exciting vacations, new babies, weddings, and job offers... these updates seem a little less than impressive.
It's a classic case of comparing myself to others, and the more I think about it, the more I delay gathering cards and addresses and sending them out. Then more Christmas cards arrive in the mail and the whole cycle begins again.
For the last 12 months, we've all been lamenting at how awful 2016 has been. Politics, deaths, terrorism, 2016 has been a doosey. It's sucked.
The thing is though, is that I've sucked too.
This isn't a statement of low self esteem or anything like that. I'm awesome and I have the potential to be awesome.
BUT I WAS NOT AWESOME THIS YEAR.
My 2016 started with my breaking my knee. Which, compared to some of my other injuries, it really wasn't that bad. I was in a lot of pain the first night, but by the next day it was tolerable and I didn't fill my pain killer prescription. I didn't have to stay overnight at the hospital, and I didn't have to have surgery. Yes, being out of work and not bending my knee for two months wasn't fun, but all things considered things could have been a lot worse.
For those two months I read. And read. And read. And read. Makes sense, since I didn't have anything else to do and couldn't walk.
Then my knee was healed and I went back to work. But I didn't return to the real world.
Instead, I just kept reading. I avoided hanging out with friends, and dove further and further into myself and my fictional worlds.
Part of this was also working on my novel - which I'm proud of. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Then, I learned that there is such a thing as writing too much. Apparently, for debut authors, literary agents won't even look at manuscripts which are over 700 pages long.
And that was my 2016 in a nutshell.
Not to say that these are bad things, and I did have some wonderful moments. I saw Hamilton in Chicago. I met many of my other Internet book nerd friends at BookCon and YallFest. I also met some of my favorite authors. (Becky Albertalli who wrote Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda now follows me on twitter, which is kind of awesome.) I went to weddings and was able to celebrate with my friends and family with their big moments.
Then the Christmas cards come. And I notice that my body is acting weird and randomly losing weight for no apparent reason. And I see people I haven't spoken to in years. And friends from college die. And the holidays have this weird way of forcing you to reflect on the past year and your life and everything that's wrong with it.
For me personally, I sucked.
I did not reach my full potential for awesome. And there's a lot of potential there. I want to get that awesome back.
I'm not going to stop reading and writing - obviously. That would be tragic if I did.
But I also need to make room in my life for all of the other awesome things and people around me too. I want to actually accept invitations from people when they want to hang out. I want to pay attention to my body and what it's telling me and be sure I take care of it. I want to actually talk to my friends instead of only reading about their lives through a Facebook status or the once a year card or letter I get from them in the mail.
And maybe, just maybe, next year I'll actually send out those Christmas cards to show you all how much I love you too.