As 2019 draws to an end, I have tried no fewer than five times to write an end-of-year letter to you all, and I keep failing because there is too much to cover. So much happened this year on the world stage, and even in my personal life, it’s just been … a lot. I won’t try to account for it all because ain’t nobody got time for that, but here we are on a Saturday morning, the day of the winter solstice, and it’s time to give it one last try.
First, I made you a playlist, so you can listen while you read.
To start with, today is the shortest day and longest night of the year, so my fellow seasonal depression sufferers have something to celebrate: Starting tomorrow, each day will be a little bit longer than the last. By mid-January, it won’t even be dark when we leave work anymore! Every year, I’m surprised again at how fall and winter can pull me down into the underworld of depression. I know what to expect, what the warning signs are, and what steps I need to take to get through it, but this is one area of life where experience does not make it easier. By its very nature, depression continues to hurt and to demand more of us than we think we can give. But because this is a familiar route, I look for the landmarks I know, and today is one of them. We’re halfway there, my friends.
One of the things that has gotten me through this bizzaro world year has been writing to you all, so I want to say thanks for all your help. You might not know it, but you helped me overcome the longest-standing writer’s block of my life. Quite a few of you volunteered to receive letters from me about anything and everything, which gave me a chance to practice connecting through writing, and it felt good to be myself with you all on paper. A few of you even wrote back! And even though I am not the most consistent pen pal, I want you to know that our exchanges really did help me grow and learn in some seemingly simple but much needed ways.
And to those who shared your personal struggles so I could exercise my pen and my brain giving you advice, I cannot thank you enough. What I want you to know is that whatever you think is wrong with you … you’re perfect. You’re beautiful. You’re good. You’re TRYING. Ok, so maybe you’re not actually perfect, but no one is, so be nice to yourself about it. Try to remember that you are on a journey, and every inch of the road is an essential part of the process. We can’t get there without starting here, so instead of being mad at yourself for everything you aren’t yet, plug back in to your best heart and try to keep moving forward.
As for 2020, I dare not make predictions, but I know my own intentions. For one thing, I plan on continuing to write and to find ways to connect with people in a sincere and meaningful way. I am an absolute believer in the power of human connection to change people for the better, and I plan on continuing to try and live that out. That means holding myself to a standard of authenticity and kindness and trying to take my own advice, which is harder than I like to admit. I’ll keep trying to live by my motto: empower good people to do good things. When we all act on our better nature on a basic human-to-human level, we build beautiful communities, relationships, and families. So I’ll do my best to help others be their best selves without presuming to know what that means for them. Everybody’s on their own journey, and the best we can do is support each other through it.
There’s still a lot to say about the political events of the year and my hopes for our collective future. I have a ton of thoughts and feelings on this whole subject and am trying to talk myself into sharing them in another post. For now, I’ll come back to the theme of the day — the Solstice is the longest, darkest, and for some of us the hardest night of the year. Similarly, this feels like one of the darkest moments in American history. I trust that the days will get longer, brighter, and warmer with time. I believe it’s human nature to strive toward betterment, and I believe that largely because you all prove it. I see you all trying, learning, wanting to be better, and making a damn effort. So I have hope that this dark moment will give way to something brighter if we all keep doing the work.
Yes, it is work. And it is hard. But that doesn’t mean you’re not getting better. In fact, it means the opposite. The harder the work is, the more you are growing. It’s when things are too easy for too long that you should be concerned. So if you’ve been working hard this year and you’re kindof exhausted and maybe even losing hope, give yourself a break. Acknowledge all your effort and look back on how far you’ve come. Nourish yourself through this long, dark night. Be with the people you love, who make you feel safe, held, and cared for. Hold yourself gently because part of you is still just a child. Remember who you want to be when you grow up. You can do this.