I wanted to tell you how 2012 looked for me, but can’t begin.
Instead, I will tell you six things made my cry this year: a book, a phone conversation about my late grandmother, graduation, the five minutes after my family left me in my apartment, my broken printer, and a funeral.
I’d be lying if I said there were only six things. But, truthfully, I cannot count the ones that made me laugh. As badly as we’ve got down on hands and knees and thought it’d be nice to just stay there on that itchy, sort-of stained cheap carpeting, we’ve really dug our own holes because we (well, me) don’t know six little things that made us laugh.
I read this piece, A Literary Flyover by Roxane Gay, that reminded me how distorted our views are. It’s about how this notion that writers? Well, all the great ones are sitting in cafés in Brooklyn sipping lukewarm tea and counting the number of people who walk by in red hats or cream-colored mittens or holding an iPhone so intently they walk straight into a taxicab.
Or something like that.
Don’t we kind of do that with our own lives?
You’re a failure because you don’t have an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy S III or six pairs of TOMS shoes. You’re a failure because you didn’t wash your dishes right after dinner and now the rice is stuck to the pan so you’re soaking it and it’ll probably soak overnight and maybe until tomorrow night when you stick your hand in there and it’s cold and mushy and gross but you’ve got to clean it.
You’re a failure because your clothes are sitting in the dryer for two days. And you haven’t opened those bills yet, even though you had time to empty the mailbox. You’re a failure because you came home and didn’t spend enough time with your friends. You wasted all night reading essays about being alive instead of actually getting up and doing jumping jacks or step aerobics or Zumba (or anything else that would be classified as Doing Something That Makes You More Alive).
You’re a failure because you don’t remember how to do Soulja Boy even though you haven’t heard that song in four years. And you can’t beat your twelve-year-old cousin in Wii Tennis. And your sister got a Christmas bonus at her minimum wage job. And your hair’s not straight but it’s not really curly—could you make up your mind for the love of all things holy?
You’re a failure because you slept in the sweatpants you had on all day. And your book’s in the bed with you all night—not the nightstand. And you didn’t turn off your alarm so it went off on Saturday. And you accidentally took Benadryl because you didn’t know it’d make you drowsy.
You’re a failure because you keep touching your face and making it break out—even though your mother told you not to how many times? And you probably should’ve ironed that shirt before you put it on but it’s too late now, you’re running late. You’re a failure because you don’t know all the words to any movie and you can’t insert yourself in those family discussions about the Walking Dead episode last weekend.
You’re a failure because you Googled whether to use who or whom in that email and then they replied with six or seven glaring typos and no punctuation. You’re a failure because you spelled somebody’s Twitter handle wrong when you mentioned them.
But you’re not. Not even close. Because you’re human. And humans, we’re pretty freaking awesome at a multitude of things: like unabashedly loving stuff and making our own scarf organizers and writing letters to strangers and making friends via Twitter and kissing someone because we really really want to (and don’t feel bad about it).
We’re also pretty freaking fallible. And I forget that. You forget that. We let ourselves climb into our beds exhausted and over-stimulated and dwelling on all the failures we’ve committed already and those we’ve yet to commit.
And it’s not fair.
Can I tell you a secret? I have failed at all those things and a couple thousand more. If there is anything I want for 2013, it is for us to stop counting and just keep churning onward. Because life, like I said, was freaking hard this year. Cut yourself some slack.