The start of a new year means different things to different people. Some people are entering 2017 with a list of resolutions that they are determined to keep. Others won't get out of bed for a while, the last nights of 2016 spent enjoying cocktails that flowed a bit too readily with party horns that continue to ring. Then there are those who considered the entry into a new year to be just another night, their bedtime routines like any other in the year. It doesn't matter how you greeted 2017 – it arrived just the same for all of us.
I like a good party, but usually choose to spend New Year's Eve nestled at home with my family eating finger food and playing board games. I tend to be among those who reflect on the past year, examining life lessons that I don't care to repeat in the upcoming year. A writer, I tend to bestow titles to a particular year depending on what they taught me. 2015 – A Year of Transition. 2016 – A Year of Growth. I grew immensely this past year and, although my kids would be excited to hear that I can mark another inch or two on the growth chart, my growth came at a personal and spiritual level, sometimes with the pain that comes with letting go of things that aren't working anymore.
I ended 2016 without some of the relationships that I started the year with. Some of these relationships were harder to let go of than others, but all of them were necessary. We can be so hard on ourselves when friendships change, convinced that bonds that formed years ago are strong enough to withstand anything and, if they don't, feeling like we've somehow failed. With age, I've realized that our needs change. As we grow as people, our friendships may start to look differently; we seek out those who can relate to what we're going through at this stage in our life and provide the mutual support that we all need. Those friends may not be the same ones who saw me through my twenties; I'm not the same person who I was years ago and I place a higher value on the quality of friendships now than I ever did.
Some friendships – I had to painfully admit – were anything but healthy. They were toxic. I was attributing length of time knowing someone to quality, afraid to admit that people I knew for decades were anything other than “good friends.” When I was honest with myself about how I define a good friend, I realized that only a precious few fit into that category and it had nothing to do with how long they'd been in my life. Honest. Fun. Loyal. Trustworthy. My good friends don't pretend their lives are perfect. They don't care about appearances. They love my kids. They always have wine. They understand that a trip to Hobby Lobby is sometimes the best therapy. Most importantly, we respect each other – as mothers, wives, professionals, dream seekers, and multi-taskers. As women.
Friendships change. It's as simple – and complicated – as that. Letting go of those who aren't bringing out the best in us doesn't mean those friendships had no value; we learn from every experience in life if we're open to the lesson. I'll have to wait until the end of the year to assign 2017 its title, but I would be happy if it shared in the title from last year.
May 2017 – and every year after – be a Year of Growth.