Here’s something from memory lane: I’m currently listening to Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” from the soundtrack of The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement on loop.
The movie and song came out in 2004. I was twelve years old. Now, it’s 2016 and I’m twenty-four.
What a wild ride.
It has been twelve years since I first listened to “Breakaway,” but I remember how quickly I integrated that song into my personal canon. Like every preteen at the time, the song painted a romantic picture of leaving home, of exploring the world, of growing up and doing Big Things. The repeated plays fueled my daydreams of living an exciting life in a place that wasn’t my hometown.
For all intents and purposes, I’ve achieved that dream, and have been living it for the past six years.
When I sit and think about 2016 in particular, I am surprised by just how much has happened. On a personal level, these twelve months were packed. I made a commitment to my health, and, holiday season aside, I exercised regularly. I came out to my parents as bisexual and polyamorous in June. I changed jobs in July (something I kept referring to it as my “Big Life Change”). I won this year’s NaNoWriMo events (both Camp NaNoWriMos and the November NaNoWriMo).
My younger self would have thought these were meager accomplishments, but to me right now, they feel colossal. Right now, I’m closer to living my “ideal” life than I ever have been before. And maybe it’s different than what I dreamed up as a twelve year old, but it’s still good.
But outside of the things I’ve accomplished for myself, the world turned. We lost iconic figures who made indelible marks on human history and culture. Politicians seemed to constantly give us cause for despair, from Duterte in the Philippines to Trump in the U.S. And throughout, there was a steady thread of injustice that plagued vulnerable people.
I can already see that 2017 will be a challenging year, and not just because I will do my usual thing and force myself out of my comfort zone. The Trump administration looks more and more like a disaster every day. What we thought were mere specters of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other types of bigotry have turned out to be warm bodies, alive and kicking. We have so much work to do.
What will we say in twelve years about 2016 and all that happened after?
So here’s my (cheesy, but true) 2017 motto: “Take a risk / take a chance / make a change / and breakaway.”
This post was inspired by this week’s Discover Challenge: Retrospective. Check out a few more responses below.