As midnight strikes on New Years Eve, a year of new opportunities is ushered in. There is an almost tangible feeling of renewal, hope, and promise. A blank slate – a calendar to fill, goals to complete, dreams to chase – eagerly awaits behind the curtain of January 1st.
I am a feeler, through and through. I am hopelessly nostalgic, constantly reminiscent, and intentionally reflective. At the turn of the New Year, I find myself stuck in the midst of a swamp of emotions. I feel the excitement of what is to come along with the sting of what I am leaving behind. To some, these feelings may sound exotic or foreign. To a feeler, these emotions are deep, real, and inspirational.
Throughout the process of reflecting on a year lived, my feelings cross a wide spectrum. Ultimately, I aim to pinpoint the joys, the struggles, the highs, the lows, and the mundane moments. These are the very moments that, bit by bit, transformed me into a different person than I was 365 days prior. As a new endeavor in 2018, I embarked on a journey of encapsulating my year through a pixel chart. The chart began as an empty grid with twelve columns and thirty-one rows. Each single box represented one day. To the right of the grid was a reference key – a green box meant the day was average. A pink box meant the day was happy and fun. Navy meant the day was depressing, and light blue meant the day was the picture of perfection. The list went on, and ten colors were chosen to identify ten overarching themes of my days. At the beginning of each new day, I would reflect on the previous day and select one color that summarized my experiences and color the box accordingly.
As 2018 approaches its end, I now have a rainbow grid. If one searched for a pattern, it would not be found – a streak of wonderful days was often interrupted by a day filled with sadness and tears. A patch of average days was spotted with sporadic days of joy and excitement. Unbeknownst to me at the beginning of the year, 2018 was destined to be a year of both spiritual and emotional growth in my life. I faced unexpected struggles, manifested through periods of intense loneliness, painful uncertainties, confusion, and places of hopelessness. From an outsider’s perspective, the pixel chart is a grid of random colors. From my perspective, the pixel chart is a visual representation of the events that lead to distinct changes in who I am as a daughter, friend, student, and child of God. As I look back, the most prominent times of growth in my year did not spring forth from the pink and light blue days of happiness and delight. Rather, this growth planted its roots in the days of hurt, sorrow, and difficulty.
The growth and change that I experienced blossomed in the seasons of difficulty as circumstances forced me to re-examine and intently consider who I am, what I value, and where my hope lies. Even through the pain of this process, I arrived at a place of stronger faith, greater hope, and increased appreciation for the good days. Regardless of the season of life one may find oneself in – whether it be the hopeful fresh start of a new year or the monotonous middle of a year in progress – hope lies in the assurance that true, meaningful change often blooms not in the garden of an easy life but in the fertile soil of trials and challenges.