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2014 was the worst year of my life. I think.

Have you ever had one of those awful days where nothing seems to go right? And at some point you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that this is a “bad” day, where if even the tiniest set back pops up you want to (or actually) throw your arms up and yell, “And now this?!” Picture that feeling that lasts an entire year.

Early this year, my uncle passed away tragically young, in a drug-related death. My sister and her ex-fiancé broke off an eight-year relationship, two months before they were going to get married. Then in April, the 6-month-old son of one of my best friends died suddenly.

It sounds selfish to pile these things on to the list of “Bad Things That Happened to Me This Year,” when they clearly hit others much harder and more directly. But as a very sensitive person who cares deeply about the people in my life, it was incredibly painful to see the people I love suffer, as I also learned a harsh lesson about the frailty of life. And living 1,000 miles away from my hometown, I felt like I was powerless to help.

I also started 2014 with some lofty goals for my personal and professional life, that I didn’t exactly land. Add all of these things together, and by the time the year was halfway through, “This has been the worst year of my life” became sort of a messed up, backwards mantra that echoed in the back of my head more often than you could imagine.

Me in February, not yet jaded about the trials that were to come.

Me in February, not yet jaded about the trials that were to come.

At some point, I remembered a conversation with a friend from around this time last year. She was wishing me happy holidays and said, “I think this is going to be a really great year for you.” Thinking of all the great things that were sure to happen in 2014, her comment made me glow. One year later, there have been times when I literally cursed her, convinced that she jinxed this year for me.

Suffice it to say, as the final hours of 2014 roll on, I am more than ready to put this year to bed. But as I reflect upon the year that was, it pains me a little to admit that I’m uncovering a wealth of gratitude. I have grown more this year than any other that I can remember. I learned what my priorities are, who I can count on, who counts on me, and roughly what direction I want my life to head.

I feel like I owe this year an apology for not giving it enough credit. I let it be defined by a handful of moments. I forgot to remember the late-night tacos with good friends, bad jokes with coworkers, romantic trips with my boyfriend. I discounted the beautiful moments I experienced leaning on my loved ones, and being someone to lean on. I spent so much time feeling personally victimized by tragedy that I discarded my typical belief that without darkness, you can’t appreciate the light.

Ending 2014 on a more positive, optimistic note.

Ending 2014 on a more positive, optimistic note.

So as I head into 2015, I’m praying that no one tells me how great it’s going to be. I don’t need the pressure or the expectations. While I appreciate the opportunity a new year presents to change lives, I’m not making any resolutions. Not really. I just hope I can remember to follow my heart, love deeply, appreciate the quiet, little moments of peace, and remember that a year is just a year.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy New Year, in whatever large or small meaning it holds for you. No pressure.