2014 was a monumental year. A house in June. A baby in July. A layoff notice for Dave in November. If there’s one thing I learned over the past year it’s that the only constant in life is change. 2015 will bring more changes as Dave pursues a freelance career, I look for a new job and we figure out childcare options for our daughter. (Getting into daycare in Toronto is tougher than being granted membership to the elite Soho House.) I have to admit I’m a wee bit anxious about how it will all unfold.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the past few decades is my compulsive journalling. (I know this feels like a jarring segue, but it will all come together in the end, I promse). I’ve kept a diary since I was a little girl and I can still remember my first one, complete with a lock on the cover to keep my cherished secrets safe from snoopers. I distinctly remember writing a note on the title page of the diary; it was a warning, really, addressed to my younger brother, threatening some sort of bodily harm or public humiliation if, in the event that he managed to break the lock on the diary, he so much as thought about reading any further. My back-up security measures proved unnecessary–my brother had far more interesting things to do with his time than read my trivial girlhood ramblings.
That original diary disappeared long ago, but I recently reconnected with a large Tupperware container full of diaries that my mom was kindly storing in her basement. The earliest one is from seventh grade. It has a picture of Anne of Green Gables on the front, and, while my overuse of the exclamation mark is cringeworthy, my penmanship is excellent, if I do say so myself. There must be ten diaries in that storage bin, page upon page of ink documenting the various dramas in my life from high school, through university and grad school, and right up to the fall of 2008 when I met Dave.
Of course, when you find a bin of journals, it’s impossible not to skim through them. (One of my favourite entries is a barely-legible note that I scribbled after too many beers in which I basically plead with the universe to let me one day marry Dave.) As I read through some of my old writing, I gleaned a valuable lesson: every time I’ve been on the threshold of change, I’ve felt afraid. Fear was present as I entered high school and worried that I would become a punk-rock-druggie-teen-mom-drop-out. It crawled into my suitcase as I prepared to leave the comfort of my mom’s house in Windsor for campus life and frat parties and dense literary journals in Kingston. Moving to Toronto for grad school, starting new jobs, falling in love–whenever I’m on the cusp of change, fear is never far behind. But it’s helpful to read my old journals and realize that I’ve pushed through the fear and accomplished things that I wanted to in my life, despite the knots in my stomach or that wretched voice in my head saying, “What makes you think you can do this?” It’s nice to look back and know you can handle the changes that come your way.
Change is hard for most humans. It’s scary wandering into unknown territory. How will we know which creatures are our friends, or which berries are poisonous? There have been times in my life when I tried to resist change–I metaphorically laced up my boxing gloves and tried to make it slink back to the ring corner, bloodied and bruised, because I liked things just as they were, thank you very much. But you can’t bully change. So you might as well embrace it, along with the growth that it inevitably brings. Or at least, that’s what I’m going to try to do as I ring in this new year and find myself once again (and as always) on the cusp of great change.
Happy New Year!