Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Risk for 2014

Happy New Year's Eve! I am happy to report that after many delays, one cancelled flight, and an extra night spent sleeping on my parents' couch, I am finally home in Wilmington. The dogs are currently gnawing on fancy bones, the coffee is brewing, and in a few minutes Nathan and I are going to exchange gifts. Later I will  put on a sparkly dress and make black eyed peas to bring to a New Year's Eve party, and together we will bid 2013 a fond farewell.

photo credit

But first I have one more resolution-ish post to write. Yesterday, I told y'all about how I was going to complete monthly challenges in 2014, rather than make a list of year-long goals. What I didn't tell you was that I am also challenging myself to live by a particular word.

I started this tradition last year, because I'd read about other people who chose a sort of one-word-theme-song, to serve as a guiding idea for how they wanted their lives to feel in the coming year. Considering my love for words, jumping on the bandwagon felt natural. My word for 2013 was present. I wanted to feel focused and rooted, to live in the moment instead of always rushing head first toward the Next Big Thing. I chose that word because 2013 was the last year I would be fully ensconced in the MFA program; it was the year I would write the first draft of my book. I didn't want to miss a second of it. Whenever I found myself drifting, worrying about the future, I reminded myself to be present, to focus on the now. Most of the time, that small reminder was enough. 

2014 will be different. I'm already viewing it as a pivotal year, which is maybe not the best idea - it puts a lot of pressure on what is, essentially, a handful of months, framed by an arbitrary calendar. But the truth is that a lot will happen in 2014. I'll graduate from my MFA program. I'll (hopefully) settle into a new career, or at least find a job I don't hate. Most of my friends will also graduate and then move away, which I don't even want to think about. I won't be a part of a community that values writing, and will have to find a way to sustain my writing life on my own.

And so, my word for 2014 is Risk. I don't know exactly what the future will hold. I worked hard to get to this point, into this program, and when it's over I don't want to fall back into old habits. The last three years have been full of sacrifice, inspiration, ambition, and excitement, and I credit most of that to my MFA program. But I don't want to lose those things just because I'm graduating. I want to continue to push myself, creatively, intellectually, emotionally. It will be harder - riskier - to do those things without the safety net of the MFA program, without the friends and the community that I've grown to rely on. But part of the MFA is learning how to be a writer, so that once I'm back in the "real world," I won't lose who I am, or who I've become. It's a challenge I'm ready to face. 

Risk is scary. Risk is dangerous. Risk is uncertain. And Risk and I are going to be good friends in 2014.