Reflecting on 2016.

Oh, how I have missed carving out time to write, create, and dream in this space. I think that my last post was made during the brief window between orientation and the first week of classes, and it’s hard to believe that so much time has passed and so many things have changed since then.

Now that 2016 is coming to a close, I wanted to take a bit of time to reflect on what this year has meant to me personally (which has been mostly positive), even though the state of affairs of the world at large has been quite the contrary in 2016. I mostly use this blog as a means of reflecting on my life and rallying together the things that bring me joy, and it seems fitting to breathe a bit of life back into this space now that I have spare time on my hands again (at least for the next week or so).

This year, my entire life changed. I was admitted into the law school I now attend shortly after the new year, and I knew from the moment I received that phone call that I was going to Boston. I wrapped up my internship in May and the began the process of finding an apartment, organizing the move, and then finally moving into my new space (which is truly, my dream space – The Secret works, babes!). Quite simply, everything changed. It was finally time to make good on the promise I made to myself when I officially decided to once-and-for-all pursue law school two summers ago – to stop making choices out of fear and to instead make them out of love.

So I packed up all of my clothes and all of my books and all of the strength I could muster and I did something I never thought I could do: I moved a few states away from basically everyone that I know and love. And I survived. And a few months in, I began to thrive. When I say ‘thrive,’ I don’t mean that I moved through every situation with calm and grace and success. My definition of ‘thrive’ is this: moving forward with intention and self-compassion; showing up anyway, even if you’re scared to death; messing up and being loving toward yourself both during those moments and after them; learning as you go and holding yourself with reverence every step of the way. It’s about finding out more of who you are, and letting yourself evolve and change and break through boundaries of who you thought you had to be forever. It’s all-of-the Brené Brown and all-of-the Marianne Williamson and all-of-the Elizabeth Gilbert. This quote by Glennon Doyle Melton comes to mind:

Be messy and complicated and afraid, and show up anyways.

This is the person I am becoming. One who shows up, hands shaking, voice shaking, feeling unsure but willing to try. Trusting that, in time, those shaky feelings will dissipate and be replaced with confidence, because that is their track record in my life. It is so much easier to stay small and safe (believe me: that was my auto-pilot for so very long). The real challenge is to show up, and to keep showing up, and to give yourself grace in the moments where you show up and don’t meet your own (often too high) expectations. It’s trusting, always, that I am good enough, even in the moments where I am failing or embarrassing myself or falling well below some idealized version of who I should be at all times. Spoiler alert: I am not that person! I am a collection of successes and failures and laughter and tears and stumbles and triumphs. And so are you. And so is everyone – so don’t let them make you believe any differently.

The first month of law school was incredibly challenging for me personally. My body was adjusting to less sleep than it was used to, I was doing more readings and assignments than I thought humanely possible, and I was panicked about getting cold-called in class and falling on my face (which, believe me, happened more than once). When October rolled around, though, I began to settle in, which I knew would happen in due time. Was I still afraid of the dreaded cold-call? Of course (and if we’re being totally honest here, I still am and probably will never not be. It’s really intimidating to be put on the spot!). But the workload became more manageable and I learned more of what was expected of me and how to budget my time better. My legal writing skills improved in ways that could be measured – which was reassuring. I met with a plethora of exceedingly helpful advisors and I received advice from 2 and 3L’s about summer internship applications, outlining, and final exams. Things were still challenging, but they got better over time.

I think that is the trick a lot in life: if you keep moving forward, time makes things better or more manageable. You adapt, you change, and you accommodate – and in time, the challenge molds you into a more confident, complex, and interesting person.

I also think that a big change for me this year was this: I probably failed or embarrassed myself just as much as any other year, but I stopped letting it destroy me every time. My foundation is now strong enough (i.e. I have enough love for myself and confidence in who I am) that social faux pas or whatever else I’m worried about will reveal to others that I am not in fact flawless 24/7, don’t call the shots anymore. I still feel insecure or exposed for a short time, but then I breathe in and breathe out and let it go, knowing that my personhood is strong enough to no longer rest on other peoples’ possible perceptions of me. I am enough, no qualifiers.

There were also a lot of ‘little things’ that made this year great for me that I want to document here, because I know I’ll forget them in time:

I discovered so many new artists this year (LANY, BØRNS, Shura, French Exit, the list goes on; I also saw The 1975 perform at the Barclay’s Center in May and it was quite literally the best concert I have ever been to). I wore red lipstick during the daytime for the first time this year. I started waking up at 5am this year and it worked so well for my body and my mind. I went to Anthropologie and every time I walked in felt as if I was being greeted by a warm hug from a dear friend. 2016 was the year that I started reading poetry, and actually preferring it to longer prose. I had more fun picking out my outfits and doing my make-up every morning than I’m proud to admit. It felt like I smiled and laughed more than I have in the past – big grins and deep belly laughter. And through all of these small actions, I became more of who I want to be.

And now for a little more of the real and true (again):

I’ve made mistakes this year. I’ve said the wrong thing at the wrong time more times than I can count. I was called on in class and my voice shook in the same way that it did in Mr. Hakes’ 6th grade English class when I had to give oral presentations. I embarrassed myself, sometimes daily. I was put in situations where I felt insecure and unsure and was no longer able to hide behind a wall of perfection. I am not perfect. I do not know why I have spent so many years trying to portray that anyway – it all seems ridiculous now. I did so many things that I was scared to do in the past this year and I survived all of them.

I practiced self-compassion as frequently as I breathed in air this year. I tried, I failed, I tried again, I failed again, and kept moving one foot in front of the other. I learned how to operate on less hours of sleep than I thought possible, and while I don’t recommend not sleeping enough, the fact that I could sustain myself just fine was a personal victory for me, and a big metaphor as well. I used to live my life (and I still do at times) with all of these ideas and rules about who I am. [“I like this, I don’t like that. I do this, I don’t do that…etc.”] What I learned this year is that yes, I am a distinct entity, but that I can push past these boundaries of who I thought I was or could be and keep evolving into who I am. What a relief this is: that I can keep growing and changing and not worrying so much about little things that don’t really matter. Stop labeling, stop judging, and just be myself. It sounds so simple but to me it is a profound revelation and change in me, one that I am incredibly grateful for.

I’m about to do a more personal journaling exercise to really delve deeper into what this year meant to me and how I will take the lessons it taught me moving forward. Afterward, I’ll do a little manifesting for 2017 before celebrating the New Year with friends tonight. I hope that this year meant something to you. I hope that even if it was a difficult year that you leave it sucking the marrow out of what those challenges were here to teach you. Please remember that things always get better in time. And if, like me, this year treated you very well amidst its challenges, I raise a glass to you and encourage you to keep tilling the soil of your life and reaping its benefits well into this next chance we get to circle around the sun.

xx Laura

Edit: a friend just tagged me in this rupi kaur post and it is the perfect way to wrap up just how I feel.

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