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Culture

Why 2015 Was Not the Year I Thought It Would Be

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…and That’s Okay.

One night in college, as I prepared to fall into slumber, my mind flashed back to a recent phone call with my parents.

“How’s school going?” they asked.

“Fine,” I responded. I mean, it was fine. School was all right; my professors were nice. And my roommate, well, we shared common interests, although we usually kept to ourselves.

But as I lay in bed, I couldn’t shake off my real feelings, especially the unsettling feeling that maybe things weren’t fine.

After months of ignoring my inner voice, I finally listened to my heart. In December 2014, I dropped out of college. To outsiders, perhaps it looked like I couldn’t handle my life. That feeling of judgment lingered a long time. I knew I was stepping out of a situation that I felt was stunting my well-being and personal growth, but I was nervous about my future. It felt like a big, black hole: blank, unknown and scary.

Mountains. We All Have ’Em.

McFarland, USA is a must-see motion picture that captures the beauty of perseverance. It’s one of the movies that got me through this year. The film centers on a novice high school cross-country team with seemingly no hope. Each member of the team has his fair share of personal mountains to overcome and does so by finding the courage to follow his heart, leading them to become world champions.

Another such film based on real events is October Sky. This story follows Homer Hickam, a coal miner’s son who acts on inspiration by the first Sputnik launch to build his own rocket. Despite criticism from his town and his father, Homer continuously shoots for the stars (literally!).

History, too, has shown me that remarkable people often go through hurdles before breaking through. Take J.K. Rowling, accomplished author of the Harry Potter series of young adult novels. Did you know she was once a depressed, jobless, single mother? Or our beloved Walt Disney, who’s cherished animated stories make us all fuzzy inside—would you believe he was once fired from a newspaper job for not being “creative enough”?

Father Moon, who revealed the Divine Principle, went through unfathomable challenges in his life. Despite growing up in war-torn Korea, being separated from his loved ones and surviving a labor camp, he devoted his life to peace-building initiatives. He began the tradition of the Holy Marriage Blessing to promote God-centered families and the unification of races, and he sponsored conferences for the resolution of conflict in the Middle East and between North and South Korea. It seems his pain was only more fuel to his great strides for peace.

We, too, can glorify the greatness within each of us, regardless of our circumstances. Life is a bumpy terrain. One minute we’re cruising down a smooth road, then suddenly there’s a huge roadblock miles high. But does that mean we stop pursuing our dreams? When we encounter our mountains in life, we won’t truly know what lies behind them unless we climb. That perseverance to climb our mountains will bring us to new horizons.

For some of us, however, the question may be: How can we make the most of this chapter of our life if we keep rereading the last one?

Make Peace with the Past and Keep Climbing

December 31 is one of my favorite days. It’s a day when I find myself going back to yesteryear, recalling my memories since January. Some make me laugh; others make me cry. Some memories I find myself wanting to bury.

Sometimes I reflect back on my unconventional experience at college, and quite truthfully, I shiver a little bit. But choosing the path less traveled is something I cherish, and I feel I’m living a life more true to who I am and what I desire.

Wayne Dyer, an author in the field of self-development, wrote, “With compassion, allow the words, wounds and pain of the past to be written, embraced, examined, understood, accepted and loved for all that you’ve learned and experienced.”  

As I reflect back on this year—a year that I’m still processing, a year that deviated so far from where I thought I’d be—I recognize gratefully that the past is a part of me, a part of this wonderful, awesome, crazy, emotional, journey that is life—and I determine to continue to walk tall with a smile every day.

Was your 2015 what you thought it would be? What mountains did you come across this year?