2013 was a pretty exciting year for me: I graduated college, survived a summer of unemployment, got a job (finally), completed my first semester of grad school, got engaged… For most of my life I’ve anticipated reaching these milestones, and now I have.
Don’t let me deceive you into thinking I had everything together this year. The reality is I spent 90% of 2013 worrying, and feeling like my life was going nowhere. Sometimes I felt like a failure –most of the time I worried. My family worried. Allllll the worry. Luckily, I have wonderful people in my life who were willing to endure the pain of watching me figure my life out, and loved me through the process. After surviving the more challenging experiences of this year, I’m beginning to realize that every success is laced with worry and uncertainty. It makes accomplishment that much sweeter.
What I didn’t realize a year ago is that in order to reach a monumental moment in life you have to endure a lot of uncertainty, and struggle with tough decisions. Reaching milestones is often like scaling a cliff while boulders are being thrown at you. You can try to enjoy “the journey,” and appreciate the view (“It’s the Climb” anyone?), but most of the time you’ll be too busy trying not to die. To summarize my college experience: I would say it was one big cliff. Sure it had its vistas, and serene ledges along the way, but I graduated exhausted and thankful to have survived. Then I started climbing mount “get a job,” which is fun. Not. As soon as you scramble to the top of one cliff, a larger one looms before you.
I’ve discovered that the steepest part of the climb often happens just before you reach the top. I remember going wedding dress shopping with my sister in September. My mom and sisters talked me into trying on a dress, and then asked me when I was going to get married. “I don’t know maybe never,” I thought, but all I said was “I’m working on it.” By November I was losing hope. I confessed to my friend that Andrew was planning to wait several years before thinking about marriage (he was actually buying the ring). I rethought the course my life was taking. “Am I growing as a person? Do I belong in Africa? Am I sucking at life?” Sometimes I blow things out of proportion just when things are about to work out.
In my experience, the key to successful cliff-climbing is remembering that you are making progress, and approaching the top. Don’t lose hope and think you are never going to make it, because you will! When you feel yourself sliding, hold on and continue on. After reaching the top of 2013, it’s nice to take a moment to appreciate that I’m not where I was a year ago. I’ve grown, and things have worked out. I know this year will be full of its challenges and uncertainty as well, but that just means there will be many opportunities for success, failed attempts, growth, and excitement.