2018. I can’t believe it is 2018. The year started with a false alarm. “My phone says it’s already midnight!” someone cried out. “Mine too!” I giggled. “Follow the countdown!” my Auntie said to us in reply. The countdown started. 10….9….8…. My stomach flipped. 7…6…5…I fought back hot tears. 4…3…2…I looked at all the anxious faces surrounding me in the living room at the Damaso’s new home in North Carolina and I was filled with so much love and adoration. 1….Happy New Year! Then came the flood of all the crazy emotions that have always hit me exactly at midnight as far back as I can remember. Happiness. Confusion. Regret. Grief. Excitement. Love. Stillness. Anxiety. A sigh of relief-a fresh start. Did I accomplish enough? Did I waste another 12 months? A slow motion blur of movement. I walked around the room and hugged and kissed my loved ones as I tried to close myself before I lost myself.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about that cliche phrase that always goes around the internet this time of year; new year new me. I want to be a new person. I want to use the new year to start over. I get caught up in cheesy resolutions and familial traditions and the hope of fresh start.

Of course, we all get a little hopeful this time of year. Even though the excitement of a new year is really just a man-made creation…we still put all of our hopes on the sun rising on the pages of a new calendar. We steel our resolve on the paper of the January spreads of our new planners. We can start over any time of year, the start of any month/week/day that we choose, really. But there is a certain feeling of rebirth at the start of a new year. And I get caught up in it.

But what do I want to change? Who do I want to be? I never know how to sort myself out….what parts of me do I toss/recycle/keep? One part of me wants to be stronger, braver, edgier, and more kick a**. I know that I often get walked on, and the person who I imagine can stand up for herself is more of all of those things. But there is a part of me that is already strict and hard and so I try to be softer and better.  I want to be more dedicated and organized, but I want to be freer and I want to not overthink. I know one of my greatest strengths is how I can let myself be vulnerable, but there is a part of me that needs to be stronger. I am also aware that I am controlled in my vulnerability, so much that maybe I am just pretending to open myself up. Maybe I give just enough of myself to satisfy. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.  I become a paradox, a breathing contradiction. I become confused.

This is my New Year, every year.

I accomplished a lot in 2017. I realize this. I gained a lot, I lost a lot. I did a lot of things that made me realize who I want to be. I experienced a lot of grief that pushed me further away from who I already was. In the end, somehow, I still believe that I came out on top a better person.

So I enter 2018 both the same and different. And as much as I want to experience “new year, new me”, I feel very much that I might go into 2019 feeling exactly this same way.

Cheers to a New Year. I keep hopeful. xoxo Keiko


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