Look Towards The Whole
Here we are. The last Daily Fuel blog of 2018. The accompanying introspection has been interesting. I always like to spend December reflecting on my past year, but now I have an audience. So I need to make sure I’m honest with myself and keep my facts straight. Because lying to yourself is totally normal, but lying to your email newsletter readers is a mortal sin.
2018 was an interesting year for me, as the failures and setbacks often seemed overpowering on a daily basis. I had film projects go awry, unexpected academic setbacks, and had to face some difficult truths about how far away I am from my professional goals. There were lots of challenging days, and lots of problems came to light that I now realize will take a long time to solve.
Those were the individual days. But when I look back on the year from a bird’s eye view, it all seems pretty great. I cemented my pivot towards pursuing a career as a writer. I spent a semester abroad studying theatre in Barcelona. I moved to a new apartment in Boston with a great roommate, and this semester I took the most interesting classes I have ever encountered in college. Yes, I may have come to the realization that I’m not as good of a screenwriter as I had led myself to believe. But at the same time, I’ve been improving every day and enjoying the feeling of making consistent progress.
This exercise brings to mind a conversation I had five years ago with my favorite high school English teacher. I attended an insanely competitive school where everyone was always obsessing about grades, and he eventually became sick of people constantly fretting over whether they had an A or an A-minus. He told the class that we should look at grades as if they were the stock market. Basically, things will always fluctuate from one day to the next, but as long as you’re making continuous progress over the course of years, you’re doing fine.
So at the end of this year, as I balance my day-to-day anxieties with my long term optimism, I keep reminding myself to look at the big picture. This year brought many individual setbacks and lots of uncertainty, as I imagine the next few will. But overall, my personal stock seems to be trending upwards, and for that, I’m quite happy.
None of this is to say that you should ignore your problems, or only look to the good. But while the holidays naturally invite introspection, there are different ways to analyze the arc of your year. It’s in everyone’s best interest to look at both the small problems and the larger trends, but the latter of those categories is much more important.