As 2013 comes to a close – 13+ hours, but who’s counting the minutes (Me. And I bet you are too), I thought I’d employ a very typical 2013-esque tactic and write an open letter to this year and bid it, unapologetically, a huge good riddance. Goodbye, 2013, don’t let the door hit you on your proverbial ass as you get the hell out.
Why such vitriol? Without question, this was my hardest year. And this sentiment has been echoed by so many friends, colleagues, and those of you I still follow on the Internets. I’d love an astrologer or someone more cosmically tied than I to weigh in here, but the resounding theme I’ve experienced and heard was that this year was a giant sack of shit. (Music releases notwithstanding…My “best of” post will hopefully take a more positive vibe.) 2013 was hard. Like, running a marathon without training hard. Being blindsided with awful news and without a support system hard. Like opening a bottle of wine without a wine opener hard (rule of thumb: carry one in every bag.) But the optimist in me that somehow still exists saw and learned a few things and the verbose me thought I’d share.
Find your voice. You’re stronger than you had realized, and old enough to speak up for yourself. Pissing someone off isn’t the worst thing that can happen, especially if the alternative of staying quiet is at your own expense. But, that said…
Pick your battles. You have enough going on. You can have opinions without having to share them. Fight only the fights you need to…things are hard enough without taking on someone else’s challenge.
Quality over quantity. In all parts of your life…friends, possessions, experiences, even food. Yes, we have to eat a McDonald’s salad now & again but looking back it’s likely we’ll remember that meal at Eleven Madison Park much more.
Trust your intuition. Watch for red flags. Listen to that voice inside. Hell, even trust your dreams, or at least the ones that aren’t a result of late-night Chinese food & the dredges of a $7.99 wine bottle. I credit much of my career success in making choices that feel right, that you can envision yourself being part of. Rule of thumb: if you find yourself adding a caveat when explaining the situation to someone (“But it’s a strong brand!” “But he’s going through a hard time!”), examine it for what it is. Nothing is perfect but you don’t have to put yourself in something harder than it needs to be.
Give the benefit of the doubt. Even in the hardest situations, look for people’s intentions. I don’t think most people intend to be an ass. They may be protecting their own interests, guarding their heart or even just unprepared to handle whatever situation they’ve found themselves in. Recognize that, and while you have to react accordingly, show a bit of compassion & hope that they, too, learn from whatever is going on and can at least look to your reaction as an example. Unless they cheated on you…then kick ‘em in the nuts. (Kidding…not really.)
There’s something symbolic about the year changing, a practical physicality of yet another 365 days around the sun on this globally-warmed planet that we inhabit. But time is short; we are not immortal & our days are literally numbered. Spend them wisely. Surround yourself with people you love and experiences you cherish. This might require sacrifice; literal purging of friends and changing of jobs or locations or habits. That’s ok, and it’s also ok that it’s scary. Because it’s how we grow and learn and get through another 365 of these (and another and another…) that will hopefully be better than the last. Look up…I still am.