In the very end of December, I saw many people filling the feed on either Facebook, Instagram, or literally anywhere, with stories of their success in 2016. Many of them said that 2016 is a wonderful year, with this achievement or that improvement… And there was this moment when I came to the point of dullness, numbness, and boredom, as I read their stories. Then I decided to totally stop reading.
I asked myself after that, “What about your 2016?” and as I looked at my days last year, I immediately turned my head back. Unlike those people, I didn’t see 2016 as something pleasant. What I saw was a horrifying creature, curling in the dark, its hands crawling, its voice hoarse and scary. Unfortunately, after that short glimpse, I realized that the creature was me.
Then I had this conversation with a friend. The best friend I can find up to this day. Someone who is distant enough not to judge me, but is close enough, at the same time, to understand my train of thoughts at most moments. At one occasion, he told me about his life in 2016, all of the ups and downs, and despite all the similar successes, I didn’t see his stories like I saw the others’. Well, friendship and intimacy might have something to do with this, but that’s not what I am going to talk about here.
His questions were simple. “What do you think? What do you feel at the end of the year?” I could just tell him that I felt terrible, anxious, uncertain, insecure, scared, depressed, or whatever. I could describe to him the dark days of 2016, the most terrifying and scariest year I had ever experienced in my whole life.
However, instead, I used the chance to look back, once again, slower this time. Did I have happy moments? I asked myself. One simple happiness, at least?
I was desperate. I didn’t find anything. No matter how far I looked, I only saw that monster, which I tried to ignore. It was so frightening that I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I ran back to the present, exhausted and dejected.
Until one morning, when I was sitting at my desk and scribbling what people might think as nonsensical words on my journal, rambling about how I couldn’t find happiness in 2016, then laughed it off both in my head and on the page in the form of “haha” or “lol,” something struck my head.
It is my sanctuary. It is my escape. It is the medium for me to express everything, even my darkest secrets. As I opened the previous pages, I realized I had happiness, even in my darkest day of the year.
I started the journal in the second half of last year. It records almost everything I have been through. In August, I mostly wrote about my several story ideas, which I never write it the end, scene by scene. In September, I wrote about my first real national debate competition, new friendships, and the first time I challenged myself to do something I never did before. October’s entries are mostly about my attempts in finishing Jin Yong’s novel, The Legend of the Condor Heroes, as well as my thoughts about the story and characters. In November, I found my way back to the Harry Potter fandom, which led to a new kind of friendship with people I had known since before. In December, I fully discovered something about myself that I never knew ever existed before.
I thought I would often be sad or crying when reading those entries. But, despite all the negative thoughts I had about 2016, I didn’t cry at all. Some entries indeed bring back unpleasant memories, but most of the time, I thought about the childishness, the silliness, the not-so-innocent innocence, and even the way I wrote and phrased the experiences on the journal. As I finished reading, I realized I had been smiling all the time. I noticed the warm feeling in my body. All of sudden, 2016 didn’t seem that bad.
Then, to convince myself, I tried to make a list of my happy moments in 2016. I started with the experiences I wrote on my journal, then the short notes I recorded on my phone. As I went through every single note, the list was getting longer. Then I found myself stopped writing because I was busy smiling and laughing at the cute person who wrote all of those notes, namely me!
It was really unexpected. I never saw 2016 in that way before. I had thought that instead of going up and down, 2016 had only pushed me down, locking me in a dark small basement, burying me under a suffocating pit.
The images reminded me of something: the horrifying creature.
I could feel its presence, inhaling and exhaling very close to my nape. I was startled before I realized its calm breathing. When I turned my head, I no longer saw a monster. I saw a young woman, smiling warmly to me despite her messy appearance. She was dirty and had scars on many parts of her body, with blood stains and all, but her expression was gentle. She got me emotional when she whispered, “Thank you for saving me. It’s my time to go. Don’t stumble upon the same pit twice.”
Then she disappeared, leaving me looking at the road ahead me, a long and foggy road, full of uncertainties and expectations, but at the same time… hope. I can’t say I am 100% ready for 2017, but who is? That little part of ourselves must be scared, but looking back at the happiness we had experienced before, who can’t resist the surprises 2017 has prepared for us?
[via Daily Prompt: Uneven]