For the past two years, I have been convinced that nothing can ever beat my year of grade 12. High school graduation. Vancouver Olympics. So many indescribable events packed into one short period of time. Everything was flying by, and it was a hectic ride, but that’s what made it amazing. When you think back, you can never remember the details; only that it was unforgettable.
When you have such a great high recorded in your books, it means that you have something too great to compare against. Everything else after that amounts to nothing. First and second year in Toronto were really hard for me. People only saw the hardest part for me in the beginning, but it has actually been a struggle the entire way through. Life was definitely a roller coaster ride. I was thrown all over the place, alone in a new city, and having only a handful of friends to share my worries with. I had so much trouble making new friends: partially because of my shy nature (which so many people would be surprised to hear nowadays), but mainly because I was much too attached to my friends back in Vancouver. All I could see was the emptiness in my life; the hole that was once taken up by my dearest Vancouverite buddies.
An ending – that’s what it was. We were all at the end of the road, and it was time to go along our own separate paths. To be honest, I have always hated endings. They are pretty much like goodbyes, and I definitely hate those. Even when I split ways with people after a dinner or something, I’ll always say “see you later” rather than a straight up “goodbye”. I know nobody really takes it the wrong way. Goodbyes do not mean there won’t be a next time. But they do not imply it either. If I say “see you next time”, I plant the seed for a next time, and I feel a lot more comfortable that way. Simply speaking, I love my life. I appreciate everything in it, and I never want to lose anything. That is exactly how it feels when it comes to endings – they are a goodbye to everything I love.
Obviously I never realized this until now… but you come to realize that endings are the best parts. It sounds weird, but I’m not talking about the ending of a relationship or something like that. I mean the ending of a segment of your life story. Seriously, who remembers the first day of high school, walking into a huge building as a scared little grade 8? OK, yes I remember, but it is definitely not an event I would place on my highlights list. Instead, I have the ending as the most memorable part of high school. Boat cruise. Winter formal. Prom. Valedictory. But of course, it is not actually just those few specific events that made high school awesome. It is the fact that our group of friends lived for five years with each other in our lives, and graduation was a celebration of those five years. A fancy dinner means nothing compared to the countless moments of laughter and tears, inside jokes, silly mistakes, regrets, worries, sighs of relief… I’m talking about five years of irreplaceable emotions. Feelings that you cannot replicate exactly even if you tried.
The truth is, I spent the past two years of Toronto in limbo. I had reached an ending – but I was unwilling to start a new beginning. There was even a part of me that was in denial, telling myself that it wasn’t over. I’ll go back to high school some time in the future… just wait for it. Yes, I really did have such conversations with myself in my head. I simply did not want to put down everything I had in Vancouver. I did not want to lose all my friends. I did not want a new life somewhere else. Instead, I locked my heart away by spending my days mourning over what I once had. I would scroll through old pictures until the tears came uncontrollably streaming down my face. I was hanging on to whatever tiny pieces of high school I had left, but like fine sand in a clenched fist, it was all slowly trickling away.
It has now been three years since that big depression in my life, and I think I have finally caught on. People have told me that I have grown a lot through this time, and I would argue that “growing up” is simply a nicer term for “losing things you cherish in life”. However, unless you have the courage to step forward into a new beginning, you will have nothing to celebrate and cherish in the end. It is a cruel irony, but it is also the biggest lesson God has taught me in 2013. He threw me in Japan for three months and told me, “you can either hide in your shell like you did in Toronto, or you can go out and experience the time of your life”.
And finally, I have learned to move on. I am not letting go of any friendships. I am simply letting go of the past.
Let’s not live in limbo. Be brave and step into a year of new beginnings. Reap the tears of joy during the endings. Live. Cherish. Give these words a meaning.
And so, my wish for 2014 is simply this: to begin each day with courage, and to end each day with a celebration.