“What’s your best memory in 2013?”, is what Lacey asked.

My heart fluttered as I flipped through the pages of this year. Fuck! Much of my year was a blur because I spent it in the dumps. Do I even have a best memory from this year, one that is completely filled with joy and happiness? Probably not because most of them are undercut with the weight of an issue I had to solve or they were imbued with sad thoughts I just hid away in my journal. I lived in a shell of myself this year and tried my hardest to make it seem as if I was doing better than when I started. I made progress in certain areas but when it came to my emotional failures I hid in my cocoon because there is only so much emotional uncertainty you can share with people before they write you off as not wanting to be happy.

So I replied with something that I am happy about but which is also a daily reminder of things I lost and may never retrieve.

Every step forward, I took a few steps back.

2013 has been one of the longest years of my life. I started the year engulfed in a dark hole that continues to pull at me even in its last day so much of the year has been a victim to my repressive memory. My best moments have only been good moments because most of them are connected to negatives that I wish I could erase. New Year, New Me, Resolutions are for the people who pretty much stay the same year-in and year-out. It’s the broken promises they feed themselves to make them feel a bit better about some form of stagnation because trying is better than doing nothing at all. I hate having to look back at a year in passing because I worked at being a better and refreshed me, each day, and I was unsuccessful for most of them.  I have to work diligently to be the best me because I refuse to regress but it’s hard work managing the diurnal chaos of my life.

This year I have gotten a lot done and a lot more left undone or untouched. I have made it through the most grueling year academically while dealing with the microagressions of being one of a few black women climbing the higher learning totem pole. I have had professors nourish my intellect and give me the steam to acknowledge that I have the smarts and talent to undertake more than I have set out for myself. Because of that I have had many doors open for me and have seen new opportunities and relationships. As great as it is, I no one to truly share these triumphs with. I’m smart so people overlook the work that goes into my education or they just really are not interested in it. So if I’m outside of a classroom there really isn’t anyone for me to share my passion with.

I have gone through intense stints of browbeaten mental states, grew apart with old friends, thought about my ex more than I should have and lost my job – which I later got back and realizing it isn’t the place for me – this year. As many people as there are around me I dealt with all my issues alone. I did however build great bonds with people I never thought I would have and unemployment made me realize a great deal about myself.

I went on a materialization detox and spiritual journey.  I have found little use for the things in life that are not needed to enrich my soul or help the people around me.

I became more of the independent woman who I’m meant to be, hardworking, unconventional, introverted and unapologetically me. I have pieces of myself that came out the ashes that I never knew existed before. Things that I will have forever as people come and go.

I have become a tutor and mentor to children who probably won’t experience the grandeur of life without having to sacrifice truly living to do so. I have volunteered; I have donated to a few causes. I have influenced lives. I have given advice and have challenged others to be greater forms of themselves when I could, all while my own vulnerabilities and weaknesses were tested nearly everyday. I fought battles to learn about myself. I learned that being selfless only matters when you’re appreciated and that it doesn’t require you to do everything for those who ask.

I learned to stop giving certain things power. I realized no one – not my family, not my friends- have the answers to my life. I can only live for myself.  I learned to appreciate that I’m not the bubbly girl who giggles or bats her lashes. I’ve learned not to settle or shrink myself in order to attract men. I learned to step out of my own way. I learned that I am great and realized I could be greater.

As many negatives that I faced this year they were all only moments in some time. I’m learning to live with my depression, I’m learning to let go, I’m learning healthy ways to love, I’m learning to put myself first. I’m learning the difference between being critical of myself and doubting myself.

I lost sleep. I had repeated dates with doubt. I was unhappy. I was drowning in more problems than I had air to breathe at times. There were moments I did not think I would make it out of 2013, so I don’t have a best memory, I have a survival story.

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