Last December, I spent New Year’s Eve by myself because 1. I was broke 2. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. 3. I thought it would be empowering. I envisioned myself in my neatly cleaned apartment on my couch standing in a Wonder Woman pose dodging all negative energy that THOUGHT it had a chance in my 2017. The reality is that I spent it wrapped in a blanket staring at my TV while my apartment looked like the child of negativity had been running around with little control. I watched shivering tourists wipe snot from their nose as they waved goodbye to 2016 and awaited the beginning of 2017. 5…4…3…2…1. The ball drops and the millions of red-nosed tourists embrace each other with hugs and kisses celebrating the start of another year. I scoffed as I watched people hug their significant others while I sat on my couch bitter because I had no one to embrace me, not even myself. There I was, snuggled on my couch crying my eyes out because I felt sorry for myself. I thought counting down into the new year would erase everything from the past year and give me a clean slate. Admittedly, this proved to be wrong.
I wanted to erase everything in 2016 because it was one of the hardest years of my life. There are situations that I wish I never had to face. But in therapy, I learned we could not numb specific feelings or experiences. If I erased the negative experiences of 2016 from my mind, I would have deleted all of the other amazing things that sprouted from the challenging times. 2016 was an integral part of my growth in 2017, which is why I cannot talk about my “glow up” in 2017 without talking about the foundation of my growth in 2016. It was the year where I started to ask myself what I truly wanted for my life. It was when I began to make deliberate choices on the things that I accepted in my life, pushing me to pour more into myself than I poured into others. This new commitment to my self- love prompted me to end an almost four-year relationship because the love that I had for myself was more important than the love we had for each other. It was also the year that I transitioned out of the classroom because I wasn’t giving my students the very best version of me. 2016 was the year where I laid the seeds. 2017 was the year where I grew my roots. In 2017, I wanted to heal and work on becoming the very best version of myself. Since late 2016, I’ve been laying the foundation, nurturing the soil so that I could blossom in 2017. In 2017, I’ve developed my roots, and my branches are still sprouting. It’s been a beautiful struggle nonetheless, I’m grateful to have embarked on this journey.
In 2017, I focused on one thing and one thing only: becoming the best version of Juce. Now don’t get me wrong. I never disliked myself in any way. In fact, I always thought I was pretty popping. But between the nasty breakup and the challenges of adulthood, there were parts of me that no longer had light. So I dedicated my year to bringing light to those dark parts. I took charge of my physical well being, ended toxic relationships, consistently went to therapy, and let go of the things and people that no longer served me. I lived out one of my dreams to travel across seas with my family, parading through the streets of London with my mother, brother, and cousins. I felt magical when I was a part of a beautiful campaign led by amazing friend Lara, (undefine.) which focused on courage, healing, resistance, solidarity and centering the voices of women of color. I grew an appreciation for Atlanta, a place I once held disdain for because I defined it by my personal experiences rather than its unique culture. I focused on decluttering my life on every aspect including my car, my apartment, and even my phone. I shamelessly partied like I was back in college. I felt my energy radiating in what I like to call a rose gold wavelength, gold sparkle with a hint of pink (my favorite color). I stopped shrinking myself for the comfort of others and allowed my light to shine. I became more assertive and let go of the feeling of torment that came with not saying what I think or feel. I had hard conversations with people I love and let go of people that made me feel like it was hard to love me. I laughed a lot, cried a lot, made mistakes and pardoned myself for those mistakes. Despite the struggles that came forth, it’s been a liberating year.
Anytime I reflect on my year I think back to me crying on the couch. It was so significant because I have this superstition that the energy I bring in the new year with will be indicative of how the rest of my year will go. But 364 days later, I can attest that my superstition held no truth. I put all this pressure on myself to create the perfect space to bring in the new year, even separating myself from my family, to have everything go total opposite of what I wanted. I didn’t place the same pressure on myself as I did last year to start the year off “perfectly” because I know that the way I start 2018 is not indicative of how the rest of my year will go. I am confident that the new year will come with a set of different experiences, both highs, and lows and I am ready to embrace both. When I put my 2017 victories next to my 2017 challenges, it doesn’t make the bullshit worth it, but it makes my growth and happiness that much more significant. As I await 2018, I feel proud of all my progress in 2017 and am looking forward to my continued growth in 2018.
As we enter 2018, I’d like to propose a toast. Cheers to another year of continued growth, love and renewed focus. May the light within you shine from wherever you are. As we enter this new year, let go of the pressures of fulfilling your idea of what a perfect year should be. Instead, meet yourself where you are now and rise from there. When you fall, give yourself the same compassion you would afford others, and pick yourself up with grace. We got this.