2014: From high to low to high again
Back in 2003, in accepting an award for Outstanding Youth Achievement in Vancouver, I made the following comment in my award acceptance speech:
We realize that the holiday season is much more than just gifts; much more than family or the observation of one’s religious beliefs. It is a time for us to think about the future and learn from past mistakes. It is a time of reflection, of resolution and of renewal.
On the whole, 2014 has been a year to forget, but to forget it entirely ignores the very reason so many of us come together to celebrate the New Year: an opportunity to start clean, to reset life and to look forward with a renewed sense of hope.
One year ago, I did just that! 2013 ended pretty terribly, and it was difficult to see how 2014 would be different. Friends helped me look toward the future with some optimism, which would help me a lot in the first couple of weeks in January, when I would travel to Edmonton to accomplish something almost everyone would have thought impossible.
Having been elected president of the Canadian University Press was the ironic high, as well as the curse that originated many of the lows of 2014. No one gave me a chance to win, but I got the job done. The feat was an accomplishment in and of itself, and the proudest moment of my year. It was the proof I needed that I could stand my ground in a battle of ideas. Though many had warned me of cronyism at CUP, it was only after my election as president was invalidated that I understood why so many had become apathetic to this once great cooperative. Though the situation was most unfortunate for me, there were many lessons to be learned from the experience.
My return to Vancouver in May began a period of uncertainty, as looking for work became a daily struggle. It was also annoying to have to explain why everyone was seeing me so soon after my farewell party of two months prior. It was a period that lacked a certain amount of focus. Though I had been looking for work almost everyday, for many of those days I had contemplated moving to a new city, like Montreal or Calgary. These thoughts ate at me, causing me to have more than a few sleepless nights.
The death of my grandfather this past summer only amplified the allure of a new city. The thought of being closer to home became more and more appealing, but having learned a few times the result of experiments in me moving back to my hometown, I eventually came to the conclusion that going back there was a waste of time. Even as friends were trying to push me to move back to Ontario, I resisted knowing that my family and I get along much better from a distance.
The summer months saw me achieve something of great personal significance for me: the realization of my 2014 new year’s resolution, which was to complete a full-length manuscript. The book is an autobiography which takes a look at my life in Canadian campus media in relation to what was going on with me personally. Though I had hoped to publish before the end of 2014, I am now looking forward to publication in early 2015. This was the “diamond in the rough” which was my summer.
Things only really started picking up for me in Q4, closer to the end of October. New people came into my life, and made me start thinking about all of the stuff I had endured throughout the year with others that may have been friends then, but were not fitting well into that definition anymore. I began to rediscover my love of the West Coast, and to return to a philosophy on friendship I had once employed, but since strayed from: “keep your circle tight — quality > quantity”.
This is especially true as I get older. This year in particular, many friendships have been tested, as they usually are when someone is down on their luck. Many have tried to kick me while I was down, employing this notion that I was somehow a “lesser” person because I was going through a difficult time. Fact is, I know who I am and I like who I am. This wasn’t always the case, but I can say that I’ve accomplished things most people around me are envious of and have only talked about doing. My accomplishments were not usurped from anyone, nor did they sacrifice any fundamental principles I hold dear. And yet, my circumstances have made it so that some people have tried to take advantage of my unfortunate circumstances and cut me down. But, as the African proverb goes: “The ax forgets, but the tree remembers all.”
As I look to 2015, I realize the road ahead will not be easy. I have many big ideas for the year to come, and am looking to make some waves in a number of key areas of my life. My book must be published; a second book must be written; a business needs to launch; finances need to come together; my health needs to be ameliorated; and my personal affairs need some cleaning up. All in all, 2015 will be a busy and, hopefully, successful year.
Though 2014 was a time that will not be looked upon all that favourably, I close the book on the year knowing that many lessons were learned, and 2015 needs to be an exercise in the application of those lessons. It had its up moments, but events beyond my control seemed to define how the year played out. Perhaps it is a lesson in keeping more control over the very things that impact my life. This also means a weeding-out of the things and people that offer nothing positive to the goals I wish to achieve in the next few years.
So as I prepare to jot down my list of resolutions for 2015, I’ll close as I usually do when I write on this night.
I have been blessed to meet interesting people, good people, from all over the world. My travels have brought me into contact with some pretty amazing people.
To all those in that circle; to all those who have extended a helping hand during a turbulent time in my life; to all those who have expressed their support and confidence in me; to all of you who are both publicly and privately my friends: to your family and loved ones, I wish you all the best for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2015.