I have to be honest here: most of 2018 was not super great for me. It felt like things just kept knocking me down, and getting back up only meant getting knocked down again. But the upside to all of this? I feel like 2018 also taught me a lot about my life and myself.
As a result, I’m such a different person from who I was last year. And you know what? That’s fine! I feel ready to take on 2019 and meet the challenges head-on. I know I had some more somber posts last year, and I hope that that is not repeated.
I feel like a phoenix. And maybe you do too. I was burned a lot in 2018 by things that happened, and I feel reborn. I lost a little bit of myself last year because I got caught up in what was going on in my life. So I’m working on rediscovering myself. And because of that, I really do not feel like the same person I was last year.
Phoenixes, while mythical, are some of the coolest creatures around. They live for really long times (like 500 years), and then when they’re ready to die, they burst into flames. From the flames, a new phoenix is born, and the cycle continues. I feel like that’s a really good example of who I am and who I am becoming. Since high school, I have made changes here and there, but I still feel similar to who I was in high school. While that is not necessarily bad, I’m almost three years removed from high school. With the 2018 I had, I feel like the last bits of who I was in high school is burning away. I’m proud of who I’m becoming because I’ve had to go through fire to become me.
In the second Harry Potter book and movie, when Harry goes to Professor Dumbledore’s office for the first time, he meets Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes. All of a sudden, Fawkes bursts into flames. When Harry tells this to Dumbledore, he says that Fawkes had been looking dreadful for a while, and that it was about time. I can relate to that. I felt that I had to go through all of that pain to recover and get better.
One of my current favorite songs is Godsmack’s “When Legends Rise”. The chorus says, “It’s burning down/ it’s burning high/ When ashes fall,/ the legends rise”. Sometimes it takes burning through everything to get stronger. Most heroes aren’t born. A lot of times, it takes a painful event for them to become the hero. So sometimes burning everything is what makes you a hero (if you set the fire, then you’re an arsonist).
I’m the protagonist of my story in the sense that it can’t be anyone else. Everyone’s story is different. I can’t be the hero of someone else’s story in the same way that none of my family or friends can be the hero in mine. Regardless of your religious beliefs, you were not brought into this world to be a side character in your story. A lot of religions and religious people believe their God is the hero of the story (myself included), and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m more referring to thinking that someone else, like a friend, family member, or even significant other is the hero in the story. I have a lot of people in my life who are important characters to my story, but they are not the main character.
Another really fascinating things about phoenixes is that when they combust, they do not usually cause harm to other people. In other words, just because you are going through a lot and it’s burning up the old you doesn’t mean that you have to hurt other people too. I want to contrast this with a wildfire or volcano. When those burn, they are catastrophic and deadly to lots of people. As a person, this means that just because you are hurting does not mean you can make other people hurt too.
A lot of people see fire as a bad thing. And in a sense, that’s true. It is destructive and powerful. I wouldn’t wish the year I had on anyone. But it can also be necessary. In the case of the phoenix, fire needs to happen to live. There are also a few species of plants that need fire. Some have a special resin covering the seeds that can only grow when the fire has burned that covering away. Others have buds under the bark or on the roots that only appear after fire. And others still need the fire and ash to bloom and pollinate other plants! Volcanic soil is some of the most fertile soil in the world, and usually becomes that way after eruptions.
I think Avatar: The Last Airbender best summed up fire by saying, “Fire is life. Not just destruction.” Yes, the year I had hurt me in ways I can’t even fully explain. But the rest of my life is going to be so much better because I learned from that pain.
I didn’t write this post for you to feel sorry for me or to think I have a terrible life. I don’t. I have a great family, excellent friends, I’m pursuing something I’m passionate about, and a decent job. But that life doesn’t stop bad things from happening. The reason I wrote this post is to show you that it is okay to be hurt. But keep going. The pain, the fire, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t last forever. There’s so much I learned last year, and I’m in the process of coming back stronger. I’m leaving the old me behind, and I’m so excited to see what the future holds. Maybe you’re like me. (Maybe that’s the reason this topic was on my heart). I don’t know what you’re going through. But I can tell you this: it gets better. You can make it through anything. And if you feel like it’s too much for you, get a hold of me. I’m not that hard to reach honestly. But I’m here to help, and I know you’ll get through this.