It’s December 31st. You’re alive. You’ve survived 2016, and not everyone got to do that. And here you are, counting down the final moments of the year before you step into the other side — 2017, that glorious year where everyone anticipate better mornings and less-desperate nights.

But who could say what’s in it for you? Who could say it would be kinder, gentler, than 2016 has been? Every end is a new beginning. And every new beginning means uncertainty. You stand at the edge of the familiar into another unknown, holding your breath, clutching your best daydreams and carrying a heart full of prayers. One step takes bravado. You don’t know whether you’d fall or stand.

One thing is for sure: you’re going to keep at it. And another thing: you are never alone. You never were.

Thank you for reading my second-person prologue. Yes, I was talking to you. You made it this far. We both have. And now our hearts simmer as the rage of the entire year slowly steam out of our bodies. It’s been a rad year. We have been rad humans. I don’t know how many mountains you have overcome, but I’m sure you did. This year wasn’t easy. Not for all.

We fought a good fight, didn’t we?

And we carry badges of glory under our skin. Who cares if anyone sees them or not? What’s important is you. That you know who you are. And you’re bringing that stronger version of you over in 2017. Things are going to get better.

This year taught me a lot in many ways, like how a stone was roughened so parts of the gem will glimmer at the surface. It was that scraping and polishing that stung a bit, but in the end, here I am, shining in some parts, and I am proud.

  • I have learned to go with the things I want. To never hold back. Always ask when I can’t do it myself. There’s happiness in new experiences, and I should go all the damn way with it.
  • I have learned to take care of my body. To choose the food that goes into it. I’ve started scanning the Nutrition Facts label before buying something. I’ve also started walking the dog most mornings. To move. Breathe new air. And to stay away from cancer.
  • I have learned to be kind and to take no shit at the same time. Especially from a man. I am going to wreak havoc when someone trespasses my kindness-safety zone.
  • I have learned to love my work because of its impermanence. I have learned to give my clients my utmost care and attention and to give them what they wanted. There’s happiness whenever I satisfy their vision. And I want to keep on doing that, especially for small businesses because I, too, am starting out just like them.
  • I have learned that I am capable in so many ways. That I can provide for the things I want and need. Yep, Lady Boss feels!
  • I have learned to appreciate my parents more than I did before. I am holding this little string of fear that time is precious and fragile, and there could be a moment when I will suddenly lose them. I don’t think I’d ever be ready for that, but I can only make do of what I have right now, and that is to experience all the love and joy with them around, for this is what I will carry when they’re gone.
  • I have learned the art of keeping at it. Really, 2016. It could have been a failure if I have turned my back to my wars and left like a coward. I was not. I learned to harden my face and stick it up like a soldier. And here we are. A badge earned. And more.

2016, to some, was a year of frustrations. We have lost many this year, including two beloved family members. But this year taught me to toughen up and settle on my gravity. That the world will continually hound and scream at me, but if I stay in my pace and know who I am, I can press on forward without getting confused or thrown off.

I hope that same gravity, that inner anchor, holds me steady and safe in the coming year. It’s been a rad ride. I’m ready for another.