Ending the year with celebration and gratitude
Today at work we closed out the year with sharing our 2011 “firsts” and while my coworkers swam from Alcatraz, road-tripped, toured submarines, wrote policy, donated literally thousands of dollars worth of organic local produce to low income families, and launched funny product lines, I realized this has been a year of firsts for me as well.
First time consciously defining and expanding my “we”
“I want to understand who your “we” is outside of work” a senior member of my company said to me over lunch my first week on the job. This got me thinking about what and whom I mean when I say “we.” I build shared identity quickly whether that’s on project teams, family groupings, or in alternative communities. I love developing frameworks for how to look at the world, and I have spent the latter portion of this year intentionally cultivating new relationships…this has been a deeply meaningful journey for me.
First time getting letters after my name
In May I completed my graduate program, defended my Master’s thesis, and was issued a shiny piece of paper with letters after my name as well as some sparkly honor cords.
First time losing a major love
Sometime between January and August my partner of several years and I decided to go our separate ways. This was an incredibly painful and heartbreaking process that hit me far harder than any breakup before it. It was also an amazing opportunity for personal growth, which forced me out of relationship autopilot and allowed me to think deeply about what I had, what I wanted, and what I was afraid of. After 6 months of terrifying tailspin, I am recognizing the beauty inherent in the hard times, embracing this decision, and grateful for the lessons I took from that relationship. I am looking forward to the next chapter in the next year.
First time taking a job I can see keeping for a decade
Late this summer, I accepted a position with a company that is indisputably at the top of its industry. I now work with some of the smartest, most energetic, and dedicated people I have ever had the privilege of working with on projects that literally change people’s world. For the first time in longer than I can remember I’ve unsubscribed from all my job notification lists, turned down freelance work (even from the clients I love), replied to headhunter emails with “thanks, but I’m happily ensconced,” and settled in for the long haul. I expected it to be scary, but I am finding it rather liberating.
And of course, deep deep gratitude, for my family – chosen and blood – who stood with me through a terrifying year, for my friends who held me, distracted me, fed me and celebrated with me, for the beautiful boy who reminded me of all the dark mean things I want to do even if he laid the pain of the world at my doorstep, and the amazing boy who had the good sense to list me as his emergency contact before jumping out of an airplane, and the quirky, patient, tolerant boy who followed me on wild goose chases and kissed my feet when we got there. And before I launch into a ballad on the merits of the Virgin America flight attendants who made 7 round trip SFO to BOS flights bearable, I’ll say I am ready for 2011 to be over. A lot of good things came of it, but it was one of the most painful and unpleasant years I’ve seen.
For 2012 I beg serenity, love, a warm home, and a deeper dive into what I’ve set in motion the last two months.