I always look forward to looking forward. At the start of each new year, I list my goals, maybe create a physical or virtual vision board, and completely ignore anything that has taken place in the past 365 days. Very seldom, do I take the time to digest everything that has occurred in the past, determined to focus on tomorrow. However, nearing the end of 2018, I completed a 21-day Daniel fast, choosing to end the year out with a bang rather than wait for January 1st to have a fresh start. During that time, God charged me to reflect over my past year in order to process what He is doing in me in this upcoming season.
I started by looking over my 2018 journal entries. I am by no means a consistent journal writer, as is very evident by this blog site (I promise to do better). However, whenever a pivotal “aha” moment occurs, I tend to document it to sort out my thoughts and God’s intention behind the event. Reading over those journal entries led me to my knees in gratitude. I had forgotten many of the milestones I hit that year. I quit my job and shortly after landed a new one, worked as a contractor, started a small yet successful AirbnB, moved my younger brother in with me, moved two or three times (I’ve lost count) due to the growth in my household and business, joined a writer’s group, and made a couple handfuls of new friends and built new networks expanding my little community here in LaLa land.
In about three weeks, I will have been a Los Angeles resident for four years, thus making this my longest place of residence as an adult outside of my home state of Maryland. My, how time flies! This year marks 10 years out of college, two years in my thirties, and one year as a faux flexitarian (aka a wannabe vegan). It’s easy to remember the lows when reminiscing over the past year because we are so determined to turn them into highs in the next. But we must process everything, good and bad, in order to understand where we are going.
Many of us possess suppressed issues of our past that we don’t even recognize we haven’t overcome until some familiar event or person triggers them within us. This was my 2018! Two mini anxiety attacks later, I decided I wanted to seek counsel; an unbiased third party who could help me place all of my past on a table and organize my feelings like a deck of cards. But finding the right therapist is like finding the right man; hard as hell! I finally decided to stop searching and let the right fit come to me (in more ways than just therapy) and truly listen to what God was telling me. He had me go through my journal which is a beautiful notebook gifted me by my friend Atavia before my move here. And, yes, four years later, the pages are finally almost full.
I learned that I’ve experienced, like all of us, a series of ups and downs over the past few years. But there is one common theme in much of my writing; I made it. God has provided provision. However, it’s one thing to survive and another to rise and conquer. This season is all about rising and conquering. Learning from my past, and applying the tools I’ve gained to create a better situation. And then sharing these experiences with others so that they don’t encounter the same hiccups.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my alma mater’s Alumni West Chapter Brunch. It was amazing to connect with other Towson University alums over french toast and mimosas about our journeys from the east to west coast. I was able to gain invaluable advice from seasoned graduates with tenure in the entertainment writing industry. But the highlight of my day was speaking to a 2017 graduate. Her story felt just like mine. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and relocated to L.A. to work as an Admissions Counselor at a university.
She, too, accepted a job, outside of her field, in hopes of getting her foot in the door of the workforce but with aspirations of becoming a screenwriter. I advised her not to waste too much time; to take the tools she’d learn in her current position, the resources and network and move on to the field that would fulfill her and give her excitement about waking each morning. These were simple words I wish I’d heard in 2009 as a confused 22-year-old unsure of her path in life. I had an open mind but just didn’t know where to begin. 10 years later I know the answer; just begin.
This was the first year that I didn’t set a bunch of expectations. Instead, I felt led to reflect over the prior year and thank God for it all; the highs, the lows, the valleys, the mountains, the brokenness and mended relationships. My greatest achievement in 2018 was obtaining a new outlook on life. I learned to face my insecurities head on and appreciate myself as the person that God created. While I may be flawed, He is not, and did not make a mistake in any dimple, hair follicle or fingernail. He created an individual willing to serve and ready to listen and that to me is the greatest vision ever told.