“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” – Joseph Campbell
So I’m sitting here in front of my laptop, thinking, pondering, wondering how to not sound like a cliche – to be honest, there is no way to convey certain messages without sounding like a broken record imitating other broken records.
That being said, please allow me to be grateful.
2018 was a turning point in my life; I have had many tumultuous years in my short life span so far, but none have been so transformative, so tempestuous, so life-altering – well, maybe it’s tied with 2005, but that’s a whole other story. This year has been more than the emotional rollercoaster it usually is, year in, year out, day in, day out – it is the culmination of experimentation, and the realization of what I need out of life.
Let me start off by saying what I’ve always wanted:
I wanted to be “normal“.
(Then again, what the frak is “normal” anyway, right?)
I wanted to be free of my disease.
I wanted to be rich, infamous, and adored by all, hated by just as many.
And then I realized, those are all delusions created by my disorder, dreams and illusions, manifestations of my insecurity, my low self-esteem, my addiction to validation, my desire to be accepted, to be loved.
Now all I need is to live, to be healthy.
To accept that I will never be “normal”.
And that is perfectly fine.
In 2018, I lost my job after 4 difficult years of hard work and dedication – a milestone for anyone who suffers from mental illness will attest to – and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I am grateful because even though it was a humiliating experience, it was a learning experience, and I am grateful for anything that will make me learn, that will make me a better person.
In 2018, I lost many friends due to manic episodes, erratic behavior, and other mitigating circumstances that were out of my control – and even though those losses hurt, I learned from them, because I discovered that I am capable of self-soothing, that I do not need validation to give myself worth. My social circle became minute, miniscule, but as many physics buffs might tell you, the more concentrated the mass, the greater the strength.
Friendship is about strength, unity, and support, not how many Facebook likes you garner or how many Instagram cults you develop.
And yet I am grateful because in 2018 I learned so much about my condition, about mental illness in general – I took the daunting step to begin this project, to go into treatment with an open mind, to be responsible and diligent with my treatment plan, to allow myself to be held accountable for my actions, my mistakes, to accept compliments, to respect myself, my significant other, my family, and many others, to discover and embrace my flaws and virtues.
In 2018 I learned that it is possible to live with a debilitating disease, and make the best of what most would see as a no-win situation.
Learning humility is not a weakness; it is empowerment of the will to walk the road that lays ahead.
Today is not New Year’s Eve to me; today is a day just like any other – I woke up, I got up from bed, made coffee, sat down in front of the computer, and smiled.
And now I get to share that warmth and good vibes with all of you; I have the chance to continue sharing those tidbits of knowledge, wisdom, and wit that don’t make me a wise man, a guru, a teacher, a pontificating hoity toity know-it-all – it just makes me a simple man who is working for a better tomorrow.
Every day is a new beginning, tabula rasa, a clean slate for which we are given the opportunity to claim what truly belongs to us: choice.
Here’s your canvas – paint your masterpiece.
So now I invite you to embrace a new day, a new year, and make the choice to live a life full of promise, wonder, uncertainty, ups and downs, twists and turns, to look into the unknown with courage, shake with anticipation, walk with caution and maturity towards that fog of mystery that will be 2019 – when the clouds of pyrotechnic smoke dissipate, when the crackling and thundering of fireworks and loud chants of celebration die down, step to the closest mirror, look at yourself, wink, smirk, and be grateful, filled with joy and anticipation, knowing that you are still here, that you still breathe, that you feel, but most of all that you live because you made the choice to do so.
Now go make 2019 your bitch.