it’s that time of year again. you know, when literally all you see flooding your social media is resolutions for the new year and goals to crush in january. i will fully admit that i have fallen into that rabbit hole before. making massively unattainable lists of goals and resolutions. to feel like i was keeping up with everyone. but twenty twenty was supposed to be my year. i had so many plans and intentions and it all got smacked right out of my hands when i first got sick back in march. and over the last ten months, i have been going through a lot. and i honestly didn’t accomplish much on my original list from january of this year. i wanted to add at least sixty more pages of work to my dissertation. and i wanted to organize my classroom. and i wanted to create new habits and eat better and foster deeper connections with the people in my life. i wanted to find myself. and maybe even buy a house. wanted to stop avoiding my student loan officer. and cross a few things off my bucket list. but instead, i got this pandemic. and none of those things happened. in fact, it went a little something like this. a startling stop to my academic pursuit of my doctoral degree as i fought for my life against what everyone now knows as coronavirus. at the time, i was patient thirty two in the state of maryland and quickly became fast friends with the entire health department. with oxygen in the mid seventies and a fever that was giving the sun a run for its money, i missed the final two assignments in the class i was enrolled in. dropping me down to an eighty four in the class. which in case you are curious, graduate level work and anything below the b mark ain’t it. so there i am on march twenty fifth, two days after the ‘night i should’ve died’. two infectious disease doctors are tapping their feet outside my infected cell. they come to me in hazmat suits with an ultimatum. y’all already know it- ventilator or this super risky drug. the one they use to treat malaria. not a single person in this coronavirus unit knows what it will do. but hey, let’s do it. so i sign the consent forms. in case it causes blood poisoning, i can’t sue the hospital. not that i could anyways. and next thing i know, there is a plastic cup with these massive pills. anti-malarial pills. and i swallow them. and forty eight minutes later, i am engulfed with massive side effects. that last for days. not to mention the long lasting effect- losing all my hair. and two days later, i am begging my doctoral counselor for anything. to not be kicked out of the program. for some grace on these final pages of work. for just something. but the virus isn’t in arizona and the only proof i have is from peggy at the health department who made me sign an agreement to not fuck with the public health and stay home for what ended up being forty two days. so i send a copy over to the university and hope and pray that they will extend me something. but no luck. so i beg my professor and send her a copy of that infectious disease agreement. and she’s willing to give me some extensions. but here’s the thing, i am exhausted. and fighting for my life. and unable to break the trauma cycle. and even once i am home and recovering, the world around me starts to shut down and now my husband is sick and i am not sleeping. and i haven’t seen anyone in seven weeks. and my mind is numb. and i say goodbye to my dissertation for awhile. and it’s okay. that’s what i tell myself. it’s okay. take a break. heal and focus on regaining strength. you can go back in the fall. it’s okay. and so i finished virtual learning and found a therapist who specializes in trauma. because my life has been pretty vanilla up until twenty twenty. and i put every ounce of myself into healing. and pushing the virus outta my head. and leaning away from every trigger that came my way. dozens of people asked about my new microchip and about a dozen more claimed i was never sick. a few told me i didn’t deserve a drug that is used to treat immune diseases. and everywhere i turned, people were leaning into hoaxes and conspiracies. and i never organized my classroom. because i was just too tired. too exhausted from surviving. and my body was done. i never found better eating habits or created a workout routine. my body just couldn’t revive itself. but that soon came to be the discovery of stage two breast cancer. it wasn’t in my head. i wasn’t getting stronger or better. and that, that’s what really killed the original goal list. cancer. cute, right? as if twenty twenty hadn’t already kicked me in the crotch and spit on my neck [that’s a friends reference by the way]. and i find myself moving out of my apartment [which i absolutely hated] and into the basement apartment of my childhood home. except, the chemo side effects are literally dragging me. so i can’t even stay in the apartment. so i find myself in my childhood bedroom. awake all night. weak and covered in sweat and dehydrated. so, nope. didn’t buy a house this year either. and the deep connections. the ones i wanted to foster with the people in my life. i definitely tried. and i definitely wanted too. but i was also so tired. and spending every ounce of my existence fighting cancer. just months after fighting an infectious disease that has now killed over three hundred and thirty thousand beautiful people. i also ended a twenty year friendship just one week after starting chemo. and my student loan officer, her number is still blocked. because i don’t need that kinda negativity in my life. so none of my original goals or plans really worked out this year. and honestly, that’s kinda par for the course. each year, i put this enormous amount of pressure on myself. to make it through my list. to change a zillion things about myself. to do things that my brain or body or life aren’t ready to do just because of some timeline i created or to be able to compare myself to some of the other people in my life or on social media.
but twenty twenty taught me an immense amount of stuff. that goals can shift. and change. and be altered. that meeting a new goal that wasn’t on the list doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. that goals are goals. and that you can kick old ones out and write new ones down. and so in twenty twenty, i survived. and not gonna lie, i kinda kicked ass too. i didn’t buy a house and i can’t find it in me to unblock my student loan officer’s number but i finished chemotherapy. and even though i cried through most of it, i came out on the other side. i put a lot of faith into my marriage. and found that my husband would literally do anything for me, including shaving his head. i found a network of support that i never knew even existed. with meals and cards and gifts and love from all over the world. i had strangers pray for me. i had strangers knit for me. i had meals delivered from people who knew me when i was a baby. i had parents and students and coworkers sending cards and baskets and i even had my own tshirts made. i stopped being disappointed in all that didn’t happen in twenty twenty. and started to realize how much i had done. how much i had been through. how hard i worked to get to the final days of this atrocious season of life. i found that my family is truly the glue that holds me together. and that having a handful of really good people is all you need. that saying goodbye to the shit that just doesn’t feed your soul, is one thousand percent okay. just because a person or thing has been in your life for awhile, doesn’t mean they have to stay forever. i became extremely proud of myself. the tenacity. the bravery. the strength. the soul searching. the advocating. the navigation of an infectious disease and cancer. the hard parts. the ugly parts. the disappointments. the illnesses. the scary parts. the nights of hell and mornings of pure grief. the weeks of malnutrition and dehydration. the final days of chemotherapy. the bell ringing. the celebration. and the dawn of a new year. the renrollment into the doctoral program. the dusting off of the dissertation. the countdown to my masectomy. and the shoving of doubts down to nothing.
i didn’t accomplish any of the shit on my original resolution or goal list for this year. not a single thing. but that’s cool. because i crushed some incredible things. i survived the worst season of my life. i came out of the darkness. and found the light. i crushed cancer, just months after kicking coronavirus out. and i manifested the version of myself that’s taking the final steps of twenty twenty so that i can leap into twenty twenty one.
so. make a list. or don’t make a list. set goals. don’t set goals. do whatever works for you. survive. thrive. do what makes you happy. don’t be so hard on yourself. this year was hard. trust me, i know. maybe twenty twenty one is the year we all have been waiting for. a fresh start. no pressure. just becoming who we wanna be and tackling the goals we don’t even have yet.
happy new year! xo.