2014 is over, and it’s already been 2015 for a week. A week of the new year is already gone. My gosh, we’ve come a long way. Whether it was your first year here or your 87th, we’ve all come a long way. What did we promise ourselves on the eve of January 1st, 2014? Do we even remember? And what did we promise for this year, 2015? We drank and were merry on December 31st into January 1st, and now our first week, our first chance, is over. We told ourselves this year would be different. This year, we would learn.
2015 is here. We’ve left behind 2014 and all of its mishaps. There were lots of lessons that presented themselves to us throughout the past 12 months. There was lots of time for growth. We may have watered that growth and let it bloom, or we may have stunted it, not ready for it quite yet. We saw deaths, riots, cries for change. 2014, you were quite a year. You’ve already been gone a week – but did we really ever look back at what we learned from you? Maybe in this week of 2015, we’ve already repeated some mistakes.
So, what have we learned?
We’ve learned about ourselves, and we’ve learned about the world. How do we relate to the world? I guess, that’s what we’ve been learning about. What we’ve learned is that sometimes we fuck up. Maybe that was one of the first lessons we learned last year, and this year. Maybe on January 1st we woke up hungover as all fuck with countless text messages worth of mistakes we’d already made. We started off the year being unsure of anything except how awesome we are at messing things up. We are clumsy with this life. We learned a lot the year before, and we brought it all with us, along with everything we didn’t learn, too. Our mistakes tagged along, but that’s ok. Sometimes we make gigantic mistakes that we don’t know how to fix. We know we messed up. We feel helpless.
2014 was the year of accepting what we couldn’t change. What we’ve learned is that life goes on despite the pain.
What we’ve learned is that we will hurt people, and there won’t be enough sorrys in the world to make it better because they want the one thing that we can’t give them. Our love, our attention, our approval. We hurt people because we are not clones of each other, and therefore we won’t always agree. We are all so incredibly different. We’ve learned that we cannot always avoid hurting people. It’s going to happen, and it’s going to suck, but don’t worry – people are going to hurt us right back. What we’ve learned is that love can be selfish. It wants what it wants, and it wants it now, and it doesn’t matter who it has to hurt to get there. This year we thought we were ready to be in love. Some of us were. Some of us fell in love with another person, a career path, a piece of literature, a cause, a mountaintop, an unknown town, a big city, multiple persons, a sunset, an idea. Some of us got the shit kicked out of us by love, like the movie Love Actually promises we will. What we’ve learned is that love does not always have the best time management skills. We might be ready for love, but love might not be ready for us. We had a lot to focus on this year, and if we couldn’t give love our full attention then it backed away, slowly, putting itself into storage for safe keeping until it decided we were ready for it again. We loved and we lost and we hurt oh so bad.
We’ve learned that we will never regret the times that we loved.
We’ve learned that sometimes people will be convinced they’re right and refuse to apologize or acknowledge that they were wrong, and that’s ok. We can’t kill ourselves trying to make them see that it’s ok to be wrong, as long as you own it.
We’ve learned that we will get hurt, over and over, year after year.
What we’ve learned is that we all have something we’re fighting for, and if we want others to understand our battles we have to try and understand theirs too. We’ve learned that two people can be fighting for the same thing, just in different ways. If someone is fighting for everyone to live a healthy lifestyle and someone else is fighting for body positivity and no more fat shaming, they should be working together because they’re really just fighting for the same thing. Fighting against each other never works. Fighting alongside each other has a much higher success rate. We’re still in the process of learning that one. We love our causes and we hold them dear to our hearts, but we can’t have supporters if we’re not supportive in return.
What we’ve learned is that we are only human. We’ve got powerful brains and innovative ideas, but we can still be defeated by something so tiny and yet so catastrophic as a disease. Some of us pretend we understand the magnitude of such a disease but are too far removed from it to really feel it’s affects. Some of us – doctors, politicians, every day people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong resources – understand, and wish we didn’t. We’ve learned that there are some fears that we think we understand, but we simply don’t. There’s a difference between fearing something from afar because you know it’s scary as opposed to actually being forced to be afraid of it because you have no other choice. It’s right in front of you. Sometimes, we’ve learned, fear is a luxury. Some of us have a choice in fear. Not everyone does.
What we’ve learned is that things will happen that we can’t explain. Diseases will strike, planes will disappear, people will take their own lives, innocent people will be abducted, wars will rage on for no reason, people will hate, and we will be confused. We want answers for everything, but life won’t always let us have them. We’ve learned that sometimes we have to accept not knowing as an answer.
What we’ve learned is that some people only want to hate. What we’ve learned is that we should only want to love.
We’ve learned that this world isn’t always fair to some people. Even though we’ve come so far, we’re not there yet. We’ve learned that even though we are all equal, some people will still be singled out because of the color of their skin or who they choose to love. We’ve learned that people will die, and they won’t always get the justice they deserve.
What we’ve learned is that just because we raise our voices doesn’t mean they’ll finally turn the volume down. We can riot, we can petition, and it will make a statement, but that’s it. Things aren’t always going to change just because we want them to. We can scream as loud as we want – there will always be people who have the power to just put their headphones on and drown us out. To those who were lost and no one would listen to how it was wrong – we won’t forget you.
What we’ve learned is that sadness is not always visible. We can’t always determine how someone is feeling and if they’re going to be ok or not. Sometimes the funniest, brightest, most world-changing people just don’t want to do it anymore. We’ve learned that anyone can be depressed, from the funniest comedian we’ve ever known to a 13-year-old child. We’ve learned that we can’t pass judgment. Even if all of the signs in a life point to happiness, we can never know the full story. We’ve learned that even if we never knew someone personally, their loss shakes us to our core and a little piece of us leaves with them. We can love people without even knowing it. We’ve learned that we are all connected more than we realized. What we’ve learned is the sun always sets and rises again the next day, and we knew this before but we learn it again year after year, because we need to. We need to constantly be reminded that the world keeps going, even if it feels like it’s going to end. We’ve learned that despite theories of an impending zombie apocalypse, the world is not in fact going to end. 2015, we’re stuck with you.
Ladies and Gents, what haven’t we learned?
Well, maybe that’s a trick question. There’s a lot we don’t know yet. A lot will happen that we’ll have to learn how to deal with.
I guess, in a way, we haven’t learned much at all. We’ve experienced a years worth of pain and growth and too much love. We’re learning, we’re getting there, and we’re figuring it out.
We’ll never quite have it all figured out.
Welcome to the race, 2015. What are you willing to teach us?