“I want them back, the minds we had,” is a line from perhaps one of my favorite songs of all time. While listening to Lorde’s “Ribs” I am instantly filled with an aching sort of nostalgia and peace. This song reminds me of everything that makes growing up so magical, beautiful, and painful.
This year has been full of growing pains. In 2018, I transitioned into a new season of life after graduating high school. I wrote and published a poetry collection, traveled to New York with one of my best friends, and in general, just had an amazing time. This year, 2019, has been an exploration of what I learned that year and what I am still learning. Some moments were painful, but most of them were not. I explored myself and my relationship with God further through writing (and publishing!!!) meeting so, so many wonderful author/bookish people, and through a relationship I 100% did not expect to have.
In January, I traveled for my first time alone and went to the Dominican Republic to stay with one of my best, long-time friends for two weeks. While I was there, I climbed a mountain and jumped off 27 waterfalls, I ate a lot of rice, learned worship music in Spanish, escaped a mob of 12-year-old girls seeing the BTS movie, and spent time with one of my favorite people. More importantly, though, I finished writing my fourth book Keepers of the Crown and I let go of grudges I had been holding onto for too long. There was a moment while I was there where I decided to forgive people who had done me wrong, to forgive myself for doing others wrong, and to simply move on. This is what I had written of Cam, Peter, Fiera, Caleb and the others in Keepers of the Crown. I began the year writing what I needed to do for myself.
On March 16th, I published this as my fourth published work and was met with so much more support than I expected. I continued to meet and connect with many readers, writers, publishers, and book lovers ever since then. I have collaborated with many and made some fantastic friends.
On April 7th, I celebrated 3 years at the best and only job I’ve ever had at my local Chick-fil-a where I have met some of my closest friends and have had the most laughs and fun with while making my bank account very happy.
Over the Summer, I struggled very much with being content with where God had me. I struggled with my job and the stress it had brought upon me. I struggled with the draft of my fifth book which took almost three years to write. I struggled to find value in my friendships and to find the motivation to love and validate people.
But, out of all this struggle came to some wonderful things. First, my relationship with God was tested and proved to be stronger than I thought. I wrote and completed another poetry collection titled The Blue Gabled House which I plan on releasing in the spring. I finally finished my first draft of Instruments of Sacrifice: Time Passers which I also plan to release next year. I started on book 4 in the same series and finished reading the entire Bible in chronological order. (The first time I’ve read my favorite book.) I learned that I really don’t pray enough, I worry too much, there are many people who love me, and writing will always heal. I learned to be content wherever I am at. (Still working in that. Working on the prayer thing too.)
Out of this struggle came something else I never expected. I met someone in July and officially began dating him in the fall. He is someone that I have watched God pursue relentlessly and with love. He came to meet me even though he was 95% sure I was a forty-year-old man cat-fishing him on the internet. The second time we met up, we sat in his car and he read my book Essence of An Age. We talked about God and the universe and my love for Star Wars. Later we watched all of the Star Wars movies. All of them. (That’s how I knew he was worth keeping around.) Overall, this relationship has had a lot of risks, on both of our parts, but so far it has been worth it. He is the reason I’ve started praying more and better.
Remember how I said 2019 wasn’t just pain? A lot of it was beautiful too. 2019 was summer at the lake, waffle house runs, and blurry photoshoots in parking lots after dark. It was drive-in movies, making cinnamon rolls at 3 a.m. and first visits to Ikea. It was rapping every song as an NF concert and crying to Trees at Twenty-One Pilots. It was me crying over sunsets and books and Star Wars.
When I graduated high school last spring and decided to forgo college in order to write, I knew that my future was very vague and I would need to trust God in all the details. this year has truly tested that, and God has truly brought me to be exactly where I need to be.
Thank you to all who made this year wonderful! In 2020 I hope to grow closer to God and those around me. I hope to pray more and to be more patient and compassionate. I hope to write and publish again and to explore new places.
This journey is only beginning.