You wake up, it’s a bright shiny new year. This year is going to be different, you tell yourself.

You roll over in bed, you listen to “This Year” by The Mountain Goats for the thousandth time (it’s tradition, obviously) you greet the sun like it’s somehow going to shine differently, you make jokes about how much last year sucked and how this year is going to be so much better.

Except last year was last week, was a few nights before, and things are only as better as you make them.

It’s a project. A work in progress.

It’s why you say you’re going to star things on the first and do things on the first and then you think maybe Monday sounds better and before you know it a few days have passed and, alright, hey. It’s Wednesday. You’re already looking at things that are due at the end of the month. And suddenly it’s ten whole days into the new year and you really don’t feel like anything is different at all.

Getting old is weird, because I still remember summers taking forever and it seemed like summer vacation was endless. The cartoon Phineas and Ferb sums this up really well, highlights this feeling really well. Summer is just one great long television show that never ends. Then you get old, you grow up, you tell people “I’ll email you tomorrow” and the next thing you know it’s been six months and you still haven’t sent that thing and then the Guilt settles in.

The Guilt gets personal, too. You were going to take that trip, take up that new hobby, whatever it was you promised yourself in the dark of the 31st day of December when you decided to be a new person in the morning last year. And now it’s a new year and you wonder if you should make promises or resolutions or have ideas at all and—it’s a spiral, basically. But you can’t think like that.

This year I didn’t do a lot of the things I wanted to, that I said I would last year. But I did do a lot of crazy, fun, impressive things that I don’t think I gave myself enough credit for.

I took up fencing and have been training to go to my first tournament in April. I’ve never competed in a sport before in my life and have barely done anything that’s considered “sporty.” This is totally new for me, and I feel so accomplished for doing something so athletic that I’m starting to love and that I actually feel like I’m good at (even if that remains to be seen.)

I published my original fiction for the first time, three bite-sized flash fiction stories that I’m in love with. I’ve been published for writing and editing before, but this is my first time sharing work of my own that isn’t tied to an existing franchise, and I’m really proud of that. (You can get a copy here, if you want.)

I explored several of Wisconsin’s state parks, including a few hidden away that I had never been to before. I didn’t visit as many as I wanted, but we got the annual pass that let us go to and from several of them and when a friend visited we did a lot of exploring. It was fun to climb mountains again, to explore a natural bridge hidden away in the woods that looked like both time and the people of Wisconsin had forgotten it. Being outdoors was so unbelievably refreshing in a way I hadn’t realized I’d needed.

top of the world.

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I received my passport, for the very first time, even if I haven’t gotten to use it yet I still went out and filled out the paperwork and got one and received a key to traveling the world because of it. (I even blogged about how to apply for one in the United States if you want one, too.)

I took my best friend on a self-guided crime tour of Chicago, to see where famous gangsters were shot, and spent the day exploring new parts of a city we already loved. We even got to see bullet holes in the side of a church, which was a pretty incredible piece of history.

 

I cooked so much good food, read so many good books, took so many great photos, wore so many great outfits, heard so much great music. So I didn’t see the entire world all at once, but I had fun, I made memories, and I accomplished a lot. If 2017 has even remotely as much in store for me as 2016 did, I think things are going to be alright. The state of the world is a little weird right now, but you know what? There are still things I have control over. I can do the things that make me happy, spend that time with people I want to be around, and push myself and my talents to the limit.

I can work harder, I can try harder, I can make more time for fun.

So what if it’s ten days into the new year, I’m still really looking forward to where this is going. I’ve got 355 days ahead of me to figure that out and see what 2017 has ready for us.

Time to go accomplish things.