Audrey Bowers is a junior English education major and writes "Adult-ish" for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Audrey at email@example.com.
2017 was a difficult year for most people, with tragedy sure to strike at any moment. At many times, it felt like the world was ending.
To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of resolutions for 2018 because I was just trying to get through 2017. Of course I had goals for the new year, but they were mostly for survival: pay the bills on time, do well in my classes, keep reading and writing.
It was a difficult year for me, but it wasn’t hopeless. I turned 20 years old and managed to “adult.” I moved off campus, made decisions, and started thinking seriously about who I wanted to become after graduation. I read 172 books, studied abroad in Ireland for three weeks during the summer, landed my dream internship at the Indiana Writers Center, managed to get on the Dean’s list three times, won NaNoWriMo and took on a bunch of other roles and responsibilities that I didn’t exactly have time for. It made me a better and more prepared person. Thinking of my future felt less daunting because of these experiences.
Even though all of these good things happened, I still worried about so much, feeling like the weight of the world was upon my shoulders. I worried about what was happening on the news, what was coming next, what others thought of me, whether or not I was making the right decisions and who I was becoming in the process. It was all so uncertain and still is so uncertain even now.
All of the good in my life seemed to be too good to be true. As a child, I grew up believing that good things didn’t happen to a person like me. To a certain extent, I felt like I didn’t deserve any of it. Whatever I accomplished felt like mere luck, rather than a result of anything that I did. The imposter syndrome I had was valid but it was almost destructive at times. Even though I was going above and beyond what was expected of me, I felt constant pressure to “get it together” and to be better, closer to some unattainable idea of perfection.
My whole world transformed this year, for better and for worse.
I was becoming more independent. I always wanted this: to just grow up already and not need anyone anymore. This came at a cost since sometimes I felt less connected to my friends and family. Time and time again, I felt completely alone and realized just how much I actually need other people.
The time when I felt the most alone was in December, the weekend before finals week. My great aunt Sue passed away. She had lung cancer, but my mom thinks that she died from a heart attack. The details don’t matter; either scenario leads to her death. The whole family knew that it was coming, my aunt included.
My aunt practically raised me. She was always there for me, allowing me to come to her home (my home) during breaks and by always being a phone call away. As a child, I thought that If anyone could live forever, it would be her. This loss devastated me and showed me how I could, would and should carry forward without her. It felt a lot like dragging my feet. The world had to continue without her, but there didn’t seem to be enough time to stop and remember what she meant to me. I pretended that everything was normal, doing my best to ace my finals like she would’ve wanted and stubbornly allowing myself to wallow in my grief in between. Eventually, it wouldn’t hurt so much. I just had to keep going.
This year reminded me of my desire to live a meaningful and fulfilled life while I am alive. In order to have this kind of life, I must be brave, curious, assured and surrounded by people who want the best for me. I must be brave by facing what scares me the most, speaking up for what I care about, and chasing my dreams even if they terrify me. I must be curious by admitting that I don’t know everything and being willing to learn what I don’t know. I must be assured, doing my best to not believe the lies that come creeping in and believing that I am truly enough and that I deserve good things. I must be surrounded by people who want the best for me because I cannot possibly embark on this journey on my own. I must believe that most things will happen the way that they are supposed to even if they don’t happen in the way that I want them to.
Most importantly, I must keep trying. Without effort, I won’t become the person that I am meant to be. That’s a given.
2018 feels daunting. However, I know that I am capable of surviving. With enough optimism and with the refusal to give up and give in, I will be capable of thriving. I believe that we are all capable of thriving in our own way. We just have to keep trying when it feels like the world around us is telling us to give up.