I’ve always said that I want to be someone who is content in every season–never stuck in the past or yearning for the future, but uniquely present-minded. College better not be the best years of my life. I want every year I’m in to be the best because I want to choose a mindset that doesn’t think back to the glory-days but chooses to see the glory in the day I’m living. –Lauren Adcock
The start of a new year is always my favorite time of year; I love looking back on the things I did and the memories I made and reflecting on what I’ve learned. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been going through the 2 journals that I filled up this past year trying to figure out the best way to summarize the insanity that was my 2018. No matter how much I reflect and rehash all that’s gone down this year, I can’t settle on an eloquent, romanticized way to sum up the past 365 days, so the writer in me is dying and fighting to find a way to turn one of the most rock bottom years I’ve had into a good story. Hopefully, by the end of this post, I’ll get there.
At the start of 2018, I would say that I was in the best place I’ve been in in my young adult life; my friendships were all strong and growing deeper, I had two jobs with marketing teams that I was excited to be a part of, my faith felt more like my own than it ever had, and I knew that this was going to be a big year. My friend and roommate Liz used the word flourishing to describe what I was going through, and that’s truly what it felt like.
But my 2018 was hard. And heartbreaking. In the words of Megan Breor, 2018 left me breathless more than it took my breath away, and it was full of restlessness, discontentment, and tons of questioning. By reaching the end of this year, I feel like I’m barely crawling towards the finish line of the most pruning and brutal season I’ve had yet.
I suffered from insomnia for 4 straight months and was lucky if I got 4 hours of sleep before waking up and staying awake for another 20 against my will. I closed a lot of chapters in my life that were so significant to who I was and how I spent my time. I had to say goodbye and let people go who I would have rather held onto for a little while longer, and it never got easier. I have never been a crier, but I know without a doubt that I cried more in the last 365 days than I ever have in my previous 21 years of life. I remember telling one of my friends a few weeks ago that this year was supposed to be better than this – it wasn’t supposed to be a year that I now feel like I need to recover from.
But when I scroll through the highlight reel that is my Instagram feed, I’m reminded that it wasn’t all bad. There were really great moments and really great people who carried me through both the good and the bad days, and for that, I am immensely grateful.
While I look back on the hardships of this past year, I recognize the Lord’s faithfulness and kindness in the people that He put in my life. He gave me wonderful people to live with, co-workers, mentors, and a lot of new friends. 2018 was the year that I reached out to people I’d been admiring on social media but never actually met, and became friends with them in real life. It was a year that my roommates were there for me in the valleys of heartbreak and loneliness. It was the year one of my coworkers moved in with me and became one of my best friends who I spent almost all of my free time with. It was the year of consistently reaching out to mentors from my childhood and seeking their wisdom and guidance. I spent a lot more time on phone calls and Facetime and having face-to-face conversations with others, and it helped me gain so many new friends and deepen so many existing relationships. I firmly believe that God knew I was going to need these people in order for me to survive what this year was going to bring, and I wholeheartedly mean it when I say that I could not have made it without them. I’ve never been happier with the people I have in my corner.
2018 was the year I successfully completed a Whole30 and lost 10 pounds that I didn’t need or want to lose.
I took a trip to Washington D.C. with my roommates and best friends to explore and appreciate history and art.
2018 was a year of concerts:
Vance Joy’s Nation of Two Tour at the St. Augustine Amphitheater in St. Augustine, Florida. I can now proudly say that I’ve been to a concert by myself and survived.
Third Day’s Farewell Tour at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. This was the first massive worship experience I had ever been to, and it was indescribable. All I could think about while I was singing next to my sister was that this was just a glimpse of what Heaven would be and feel like once we reach our eternal home.
Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. I attended this concert with my sister and one of her friends, three of my closest friends, and this was the first big concert that two of them had ever been to, and I am so glad that Taylor Swift was their first. Taylor sang songs from every era, and it was so much fun.
Ben Rector’s Magic Tour with The Band Camino at the Coca-Cola Roxy Center in Atlanta, Georgia. I went with four of my closest friends, and I still can’t get over how charming and down-to-earth Ben Rector is.
I also attended John Crist’s Human Being Tour in Warner Robins, Georgia with two of my best guy friends. It was the funniest night of my life, and I so enjoyed hearing all of the roasts on Christian culture.
2018 was the year that I asked for help. I started going to therapy for the last half of the year, and now I firmly believe that everyone needs to be in therapy whether they think they need it or not. There is nothing more beneficial than being able to talk to someone who isn’t directly affected by your emotions or circumstances, and whose sole purpose is to help you heal, grow, and move forward.
2018 was the year I embraced true self-care, and I don’t mean by partaking in extravagant pampering experiences. I consistently attended a church and Sunday School for the first time in 2 years. I took time each day to journal and reflect. I took time each week away from my phone to just sit and be with my thoughts and took time to truly rest from school and work. I can’t believe I’ve gone this long in my life without this.
This year I took 47 days off from all social media and it was so good and so needed for my soul. I was able to spend a lot more time in prayer, Bible reading, and with my people.
2018 was the year I took a chance on a guy for the first time in 3 years. I fell hard because I love people deeply. I put a lot of hope in someone who wasn’t ready for me and wasn’t ready to give what I wanted and what I needed. I learned the dangers of falling in love with potential and believing words that didn’t line up with actions. And I got hurt. Multiple times. And I’m still working on moving on with the lessons I learned from it. But I’d like to believe that I’m stronger because of it.
This was my last year of being in college, and I did my absolute best to embrace and do everything I could with the opportunities and chances that being in a college town has to offer. I took swim classes through our campus recreation department. I stepped out of my comfort zone and took dance classes as a way to learn a new sport, have a place to escape to and get endorphins, and to get back in shape. Hip-hop is still not my forte, but I now know two styles of partner dancing (thanks for doing them with me, Cameron!). I taught one of my friends how to drive and helped him get his driver’s license. I took road trips to Savannah and said yes to spontaneous meet-ups around town and at the local disc golf course and went to all of the lunch date requests with friends, co-workers and professors.
In 2018 I celebrated my birthday twice – once with my hometown friends and once with my college friends. This was the year those friend groups overlapped a few times, and it was so cool seeing people from different areas of my life come together and get along.
This year I graduated Magna Cum Laude with my Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology a semester early. I can finally check that little box that I feel like I’ve been working towards since I was in kindergarten.
For the first time since I was 5 years old, my life is no longer scheduled in front of me by the academic calendar. All of my friends are spread out around Georgia, and our circumstances and life seasons are starting to drift in different directions. I’m entering the first year post-grad, away from the safety net and security of college. I’d be lying if I said that I’m not scared of what the future holds; I’m more scared of the uncertainty of it all. I cried every day in the week leading up to graduation because I wasn’t as excited as I thought I should be about finally moving on from being in school. I cried the night of graduation after everyone had left from celebrating because adult life was here whether I felt ready for it or not. My therapist told me that I was finding my year to be disappointing because nothing was going how I expected or wanted it to, and that there was nothing I could do to reverse or run from what was happening. I’m a planner and a control freak, and those characteristics don’t bode well when life isn’t going your way. It was a daily fight to lay down my expectations and my need for control, and it’s a fight that I still feel like I’m losing but will continue to show up to.
And although this year broke my heart and left me wondering why so many unpleasantries were happening, 2018 was really really full. It was full of good times with great people. 2018 hurt me in ways that I never wanted or thought I could survive, but by the grace of God I’m finally here on the other side. 2018 was brutal but it was necessary, and I know that it was important to go through. 2018 was a year of showing up, regardless of how much I didn’t want to or how hard it felt, and I’m so beyond ready to bid adieu to this year and start showing up for the next.
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: by no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. – Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG)
Dear Hannah, What a beautiful and insightful account of the highs and lows of your past year, 2018. I have every confidence that you are on a sound track to a future in which you will see much accomplishment, and experience great joy. That doesn’t mean that I think you will never have any more painful experiences; those are a part of life, too. From those, with God’s help, we grow toward something more meaningful, more lasting, in our quest for knowledge, for happiness and for purpose. You are a beautiful child of God, and in His wisdom and love, He will show you the path forward toward the best use of your many God-given talents and abilities. You are special; I have known that since I first met you when you were new to our big Lansford family. I fell in love with little Hannah on that first meeting, and I have continually been impressed with you and your accomplishments over the years since then. I am sorry that you have experienced sorrow and pain and disappointments during this past year, but I am also quite sure that you have grown from them, and that true happiness awaits you in the journey ahead. Life is, hopefully, a continual learning experience. I am 84 years old, and thankfully, I am still learning! Life has certainly had its up and downs for me, but as I look back, I recognize that there have been several episodes in my life that have provided me both pain and meaningful growth. Now I can be thankful that God has shepherded me through those times, and has brought me to greener pastures. I don’t know what lies ahead for me, but of one thing I am confident, God will be there for me, as He will be for you. Congratulations upon your graduation and your many accomplishments, and best wishes for your continued growth. You will be in my prayers. Happy New Year! Much love,Aunt Jan December 31, 2018