Reflections on Next Year

As the year draws to a close, I find myself thinking about the future more and more. 2023 is going to be a busy and exciting year for me, at least intermittently. Two dear friends are getting married and I will be a part of that, which involves at least one big trip and then a wedding, all of which will happen within the first six months of the year. Shortly after that, I’ll be moving since I can’t stay where I’m living any longer due to the rapid rise of rent and my personal distaste for how aware I am of everything my neighbors do. From there, my year is unknowable. After all, I’m also looking for a new job and hope to be doing something I can do entirely from a home office, since I’d like to move around a little bit. Try living elsewhere for a time. See what that’s like since I’ve lived in the same major area my entire life (northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin). Meet some new people. Go on an adventure or two.

All of which feels a little difficult to imagine myself doing as I take a break from my current job to write part of this blog post. I can see myself working here for decades, after all, if one or two things change at least a little bit. I think I could do a lot here and I think I could have a pretty decent life while I do it. Probably. It’s a bit difficult to say, given the state of governance in Wisconsin specifically and the US in general. I mean, it really seems like the world is in the middle of a reactionary movement, as those with limited vision and no interests beyond themselves do what they can to prevent anyone who wants to make life better for other people from holding power or using what power they hold. I genuinely can’t imagine what the world and my place in it might look like a decade from now. It feels like we’re on the precipice of major change these days, and unfortunately it seems to be change for the worse since no one seems willing to use the systems in place to enforce anything resembling accountability.

That’s all on a very different scale than I am, though. It is entirely possible that none of the events I fear will come to pass and that I’ll be able to live a full life as the world continues to teeter on the brink of disaster. It is possible I’ll be able to live an enjoyable and pleasant life even if disaster strikes. After all, things are rarely unsavagable. Few disasters are completely and utterly ruinous. I know that despair serves only those who want fewer people to oppose them, so many horrible people will do everything they can to make it seem like they’re winning until the moment their grip on power breaks. I don’t know if I am ready to reach for hope about the future, yet, but I’m also definitely not ready to embrace despair.

I don’t know what I’m going to do next year. I think I’ve set myself up to potentially do a lot. I’ve started a lot of balls rolling this year. It remains to be seen if any of them will be able to turn into something, given the rather awful state of the publishing industry, the constant devaluing of creative work, and the inescapable millstone around my neck that is student debt, but I think I’ve done the work to give myself as much potential for success and growth next year as was possible this year. I’d love to find a new job making more money for fewer hours of my day, get a work published, maybe buy a house or enter into a healthy, loving romantic relationship with another person. Hell, even some new friends would be great given that I’m still trying to pay off the work I started years ago of removing all the toxic relationships from my life so there’d be room for new, healthy ones. Any of the above would be great.

All of this is idle speculation, though. I’ve learned my lessons about planning for a distant future. All I can do every day is my best. One more step toward a goal, celebrating whatever I’ve achieved, being the best version of myself that I can be. One day at a time as I keep an eye out for opportunity and another eye on my longer-term goals. I’ve been stuck in the past, I’ve lived only for the future, and I’ve gotten lost in the present. Now I think I’m living in all three at the same time and that seems to be working for me. It’s all just a matter of time, anyway. Things that take effort become habits, daily practice leads to new heights, and small growth eventually yields mighty trees. Who knows what my life will look like a year from now as I ponder 2024. I don’t know. I didn’t think I’d be in family therapy with my parents at this time last year and here I am, mentally preparing myself for another session. A lot can happen pretty quickly.

I just hope my work pays off eventually. I hope my efforts bear fruit. I hope that, weeks from now, I’ll be able to look back at the uncertainty and apprehension I felt while writing this and tell myself that I had nothing to fear. I don’t know what that would look like, and I have no idea what kind of changes in my life could bring that level of comfort and certainty, but I sure I hope I figure it out.

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