Why celebrate the new year when you can celebrate a new chapter of your life?
I started naming “my” years after colors in 2015. I had graduated college and everything was fuzzy. It was clear that I was about to change dramatically because I did not yet fit into LA. I was still hung up on my college years – how to act, make friends, work, settle, and how to have fun – they were all determined by what I learned from and how I adapted to college. I’ll explain how I’ve partitioned recent chapters of growth into colors here:
My post-grad LA years were my Year of Pink. They were glittery. They were fun and strange and I was chasing something (or someone) I did not know the name of. I had a vague idea of what I was searching for, but I was searching – HARD. I still had a lot of self-entitlement that I quickly threw away when big city life made me super poor… and then super “rich” again: rich with knowledge of money management, of influential friends, of experiences so rich I felt like I was dreaming.
I was working in the film industry, but I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be. I moved up fast. I was pissed and anxious and tired all the time, but there was always the sweet release of exploring new places, of attending ridiculously decorated parties, meeting new, interesting people from all over the world, of living outside of this career that I had wanted so badly.
It faded fast. It ended sharply… into my Year of Black.
My Year of Black was a lost year. I literally blacked out while my brain was neurotoxic. I had been floxed. When I “woke up” again, it felt like everyone had moved on with their lives and I was stuck behind, like a shadow. It was as if I had slept in a coma for a year and change, even though I was technically “awake” for all of it. You’re not supposed to remember your toddler years at all, but I have a few very extreme memories that I’ve kept, like when my brother was born or the first time I wanted to make the wrong choice, but I made the right one instead.
This lost year was like that. I remember a few key memories, like staring out my car window when I was too weak to walk, watching my mother pick out vegetables at a small farmer’s market next to an older woman who was about 80-something years old.
I remember feeling envious of that 80-something year old woman, who had lived a full life and was continuing to live it on two feet.
At the time, we weren’t sure if or when I would be healthy enough to live independently and do normal activities.
I remember two short moments when my friend Tim drove me up Mount Greylock when I was too weak to hike:
1) My leg went numb on the car ride up and I told him about it, less anxious and slightly okay with it compared to usual.
2) We were both laying down on rocks looking up at the sky and finally got back to talking about normal stuff. Watching the clouds roll by on top of a mountain, a view I could not get to on my own for months, made me feel free. I was healing. I believed I was going to be okay.
These were the “toddler memories” of my lost years. I also remember when I was at Echo Park Lake with my friend Will before he drove me to my neurologist appointment. We laid in the grass next to the lake and I couldn’t stop crying. My entire body was numb, my eyesight was blurry, and I had developed a rash all over my arms. I was likely allergic to a type of leaf we were touching, but I couldn’t stop freaking out.
Later, after getting my blood drawn, I told Will it was the least painful time I had ever had a needle inserted into my arm – that nurse must have been very good. She was like an angel. Then Will reminded me, “Aren’t you here because you can’t feel your arms?” We couldn’t help but laugh like crazy after that. My brain fog was so bad that I didn’t remember I couldn’t feel anything.
Last year was my Year of Red.
I was angry. This year felt like forever. I was stuck and it felt like my entire existence was absurd. Why didn’t I just die? I was back to square one. I couldn’t find a decent job and all of my savings were lost to getting sick. I was angry that I had lost a year of my life, that I was continuing to lose precious time stuck in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t work towards something greater.
I felt like a snail.
Where was my motivation? Where were my friends? What had my life become?
I called myself a zombie, a vampire. I had a lot of negative energy. It felt like fire was coming out of my eyes. I had come back from the dead and for what? I had almost missed my black years. I was so much nicer when there was fluorine in my brain because I was so grateful for continuing to exist. When I was back to normal, I was so pissed. What was there to be grateful for? Why be grateful when you’re always alone, when everything you had worked so hard for was taken away from you?
This year is Orange.
Orange is the color of my new job, my new documentary, of setting myself on fire in all ways creatively, of fighting the existential anxiety I feel every day to create with pushing myself to do what I want. I am my own boss. I am my own person. I can like and love and hate things or people.
I don’t need to question myself. Sometimes, I just need to do things. This is the year I take back my life and mold it into whatever I want to do now. It’s not a build up of anything. I can’t look at the future like it’s something I can choose to let become. This is not how life works. I want to get what I want when I know what I want, not if I just have a vague idea. What’s the point in that?
I used to hate the color orange. It’s still not my favorite color, nor is tackling what I truly want something I’ve probably ever wanted to do. I was so obsessed with an image that other people held of me. I was so obsessed with proving other people wrong. Now I have to take care of myself, love myself, and tackle what I find pleasurable, what I want out of life.
I want to love the people I want to love, not just the ones who are convenient. I want to continue to be my own boss. I never want to work for someone else again.
I’ve learned that success is only what it is for you. Success to other people is success for them. Some people want a family. Some people want to segment moments of intense change in their lives into labeled colors.
I have no idea what my next chapter will be like or what the future holds. I hope it’s exciting, filled with happiness/love, and with time spent sitting on rocks on top of mountains with the breeze blowing through my hair.
What do you call your life chapters?
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I Write When I’m Angry | The Barefoot Aya
10 Things That Helped Me Heal The Most Post-Flox | The Barefoot Aya
Loss and Living | Womenly Things
What Makes Us Strong | The Daily Planet
The Change | Here Comes the Sun
Feature Photo Credit: M Polacinski