2011 was a ride, for sure. I look back at the past year, and I’m pretty pleased. John and I like to joke that every year, something devastating happens to our family, but 2011 was pretty awesomely tame in comparison to some of the years we’ve had (I’m looking at you, 2007). I feel like I learned a lot — some of the lessons were old lessons I thought I’d already learned, but that needed to be reinforced. So, here’s what I learned this year:
Stand by your ethics. This is a hard one, and it often makes you feel unpopular and foolish. But in my experience, it’s always worse to shut up and sit down. It’s better to take a stand.
Don’t worry, be happy! This too shall pass. Just keep reminding yourself that whenever life seems to be coming at you with both fists up. There’s always a silver lining, and things eventually turn right side up. They only seem miserable in the moment; you’ll be surprised when you look back at this in 5 years and see how silly it all was.
Everybody hates drama, but sometimes it stalks you. It’s so funny, you always see those people who say “I hate drama soooo much!” on their OKC or FB profiles, and you think, “Uh, yeah . . . who doesn’t?” This year, I was pulled (as a minor side player) into two separate farces. The whole frustrating experience has taught me very clearly that sometimes you actually can lock yourself in your house, ignore the world, cover your ears, and sing lalalalala and still get sucked into other people’s drama. Sometimes it’s ethics (I’ve been informed of this information and have to decide whether or not it’s rumor, whether or not to perpetuate a potentially devastating secret, or whether to tell all and hope for the best) and sometimes it’s just that you moved in next to an insane person who won’t take no for an answer.
When drama stalks you, people blame you. That’s just the way it is. There’s gossip no matter what in life, and when the news is juicy . . . well, you all read the news. You know how it works. I believe my journalism teacher phrased it: The news doesn’t sell because we report the ordinary. It sells because we report the extraordinary, things that aren’t normal. It’s the same way in real life. Nobody’s going to walk around talking about how I’m learning to crochet, and isn’t that neat, or how I’m still struggling with writer’s block, but I sure got my grocery shopping down! Nope. And nobody is going to call me up and say, “Oh, I know John was planning on getting his hair cut — did he ever get that taken care of? And how’d he do on taking the garbage out this week; did he get both the recycling and the trash to the bins in time?”
Nobody cares. Because that’s ordinary, run of the mill, average. Boring, predictable, and stable. It’s stuff that we all do, and we all know about, and it’s not fascinating in the slightest. That’s why when in your personal little circle of friends, whomever they may be, when something happens — a divorce, a surgery, a pregnancy, a change of belief, a change of gender, a coming-out, a wedding, a dying, a chance meeting — any time anything out of the ordinary happens, it will be discussed and dissected and opined on. And the actions of anyone connected, however remotely, will also be discussed and dissected and opined on. So occasionally people will look at the happenings in our lives — the people who know us well enough to know the big happenings, but not the day-to-day ones — and react with the same armchair attitude, easy judgment, and simplistic solutions to complicated issues that were passed on Britney Speare’s public breakdown or Kim Kardashians rise to “fame.” It’s a social networking soundbite, in essence.
And the best lesson of all . . . wounds will heal. There have been times I thought I would never be on close terms with friends/ family I’ve been alienated from. There have been times when I thought the anger was too much, the divide too great, the misunderstandings too vast. There have been times when I thought no amount of apologies on either side would fix the relationship. Well, I’m glad to say I’ve been proven wrong time and time again. Where communication, time, and affection are present, relationships can heal. As long as both parties are willing to listen with compassion, forgiveness, and understanding, problems can be overcome, and it’s awesome. Remember to call up someone you love today and tell them you love them. Death is the great divider, and until that dark day, it’s only pride or shame or laziness that can topple friends and family.