Last year, I started a new tradition on New Year’s Eve—reflecting on the previous year and what I was able to accomplish. Starting January 1, 2021, I began jotting down my achievements both big and small.
Tonight I’ll be pulling out my notebook and rereading through everything I did this year, but when I think about what experiences stand out most from this year, it’s these three.
In 2021, I had a baby.
I spent nine months of 2021 growing another person and preparing to become a parent. Then, when my son arrived in September, everything about life changed. The first two months after my son was born were solely about surviving each exhausting day and making it through the many unexpected challenges parenthood brought our new little family. I am still the same person I was before having my son, but with a new layer added to my identity: mother. My son has given life new depth and richness that I am thankful for (especially now that he is sleeping much better!), and for the first time in years, I do not feel depressed looking forward into the coming new year. I am so excited to see how my son will continue to grow and learn, and discover more about who he’s going to become.
In 2021, I lost my mentor.
If you’ve watched my story of deconstruction on YouTube, you may remember how I worked with a life coach when I began asking difficult questions about my then-Christian faith. I was devastated to learn in June that my life coach, Steve, who was an outspoken mental health advocate and suicide attempt survivor, ended his life. Grieving Steve’s loss was a very complex and hard process that I continue to struggle with. Part of that process was writing a song to tangibly express the emotions I was grappling with after his death, which you can listen to here.
In 2021, I lost my grandma.
Losing my grandma was the first major and closest experience of death and grief I’ve ever gone through, but it’s also the first since I’ve walked away from my Christian faith. I am still only at the very beginning of what I know will be a very, very long grieving process, and so to summarize what her loss has felt like thus far isn’t possible. I can say, however, that while some find comfort in religion when faced with loss, I’ve found comfort in my lack thereof—that the death of my incredibly kindhearted, one-of-a-kind, down-to-earth grandma was not planned by some twisted, malicious god.
There is a lot to unpack from these three major experiences in 2021 alone, which I hope to share in the future on my YouTube channel. One of the best parts of 2021 has been hearing from people throughout the year who’ve found my YouTube videos and either resonated with my experiences or have been helped in some way by my story. I’m not able to respond to every message, but I am grateful to you for reaching out!
Here’s to 2022 and another year to live authentically, compassionately, and bravely.