The end of one year and the start of the next typically prompts reflection. What’s changed in my life over the last 365 days? What have I achieved? How did I do on my New Year’s resolution/s? Why did I eat so many mince pies last week?
I don’t know about you, but my social media feeds are testament to that reflective mood, currently flooded with year-in-review photo dumps and gratitude-laden captions. And because I’m in my late twenties, an overwhelming proportion of my peers’ summaries of 2022 feature delighted references to marriage, parenthood and/or home ownership.
None of these things are even remotely on my radar right now. I didn’t hit any major life milestones in the last 12 months and I only managed to cross a handful of “resolutions” off my “2022 goals” list.* So, whilst I’m looking back over my own year, it would be easy for me to dismiss it as one in which nothing of note really happened. No big achievements. No significant steps in specific directions.
But my God it was lovely.
Earlier today, I was flicking through my camera reel from 2022 (must stop taking 37 identical photos at a time), and by the end of December’s lot, I was grinning from ear to ear from the sheer inundation of beautiful moments and memories. I was reminded that this has been a year jam packed with travel, music, good food, and most importantly, proper, quality time with friends and family. The people dear to me are scattered inconveniently far and wide across the world, so when I say I managed to spend time with nearly everyone I love in 2022, the significance of that situation, and the pure joy it brought me, cannot be overstated.
In the last year, I returned to some of the places closest to my heart and discovered some gorgeous new ones. I uncovered a passion for songwriting and got semi-conversational with my fledgling self-taught Italian and baked a lot. I managed to stick with a dance class for a whole year (I’m notoriously bad at picking up new hobbies and quickly discarding them again), read some wonderful books, mostly learned to drive (no licence yet), and also learned a lot about myself. Best of all, I made new friends, and cultivated new relationships, and watched a surprising number of longer-standing ones grow and flourish — some of which had already been close to begin with, others not at all before this year.
“Good grief, could you not have just done a thankful Facebook status like everyone else and be done with it?”
Probably. But my point is (yes, believe it or not, I do have a point amongst all this slightly soppy rambling), whilst they‘re wonderful, exciting things to be shouted from the rooftops and celebrated ’til the cows come home — major milestones are not the only makings of a bloody good year. And they’re definitely not the only markers of success.
Success, to me, is filling your life with what brings you joy. It’s being genuinely, deeply happy right where you are — your physical home, your day-to-day routine, your relationships with others, your relationship with yourself. It’s having a heart brimming with love, whoever, or whatever, or wherever that love is for. It looks different for everyone. And it can’t be ticked off a list, because it’s a lifelong endeavour. It’s the lifelong endeavour, in my opinion. Finding joy, and bringing it to others. What else matters, really?
So if you made any changes in 2022 that took you a step closer to whatever makes your heart happy — or maintained any love, peace, contentment, fulfilment you’d already found, or helped anyone else to find it — congratulations on a brilliantly successful year.
Here’s to more of the same in 2023!
* In my defence, there were ten, and they weren’t small things. Note to self: Try to be realistically ambitious in 2023.