I was all set to do some sort of standard year in review. I was going to write about the happenings this year but I decided against it. I figured if you didn’t know what happened in our society, our culture and around the world, you were either under the age of 6 or you need to pick up a newspaper once in a while. Instead I did a different sort of year in review. I hope you enjoy.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2011 was the year of the Rabbit. The Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac has been described as being “lucky”. That is how I initially viewed 2011. In fact, 2011 was supposed to be my year. 2011, my wife and I decided late in 2010, was going to be a great year. Untold success and good fortune, and finally a stroke of luck were to be coming our way.
2011 turned out to be something entirely different. Though 2011 began with the excitement of a new job, the feeling didn’t last (and neither did the job). By May I was filing for unemployment. I spent the summer, not in an office or wearing a tie, but at the pool with my kids, uncertain where I would find a job. While my tan was George Hamilton-esque, my bank account was empty. I hoped I would be lucky enough to hear back from just one of the hundred or so jobs I applied for. In August, thoroughly tan and completely out of money, my luck changed and I had a new job. The job lasted until the week of Thanksgiving when I was let go and reopening my unemployment claim. Both times, the jobs I thought I was so lucky to have, decided luck had nothing to do with cutting their budgets.
2011 was the year I came within reach of writing for a major online publication and have my writing be read by, potentially, hundreds of thousands of people (oh, and let me not forget, I also would have been paid). For reasons out of my control, the opportunity disappeared faster than Taylor Hicks’ singing career. 2011 was the year we didn’t have a true family vacation, Santa brought fewer gifts in 2011, and I got a stomach ache every month when the bills were due. The string of misfortune was a ball worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records.
2011 was the year I wanted to cry every time I had a spare moment to contemplate my position. I doubted myself and my abilities. I thought I was out of confidence and self-worth. 2011 was the year I didn’t know how much more I could take of my bad luck. But luck is momentary. When times are good, we consider ourselves “lucky”. When times are bad, our luck runs out. I put my faith in the Year of the Rabbit in 2011 and that furry astrological Leporidae had no luck to give to me.
Yet 2011, despite handing out “bad luck” like sticks of gum to me, also gave me something else. It gave me resolve. It strengthened my willpower and forced me to pick myself up and dust myself off each time I was knocked to the ground. While I had my moments of doubt, pity, and quit, I kept going. Sometimes I thought about the world around me and how my situation could have been a whole lot worse. Sometimes I remembered the advice from friends and family members about tough times. Sometimes I relied on those family members more than I ever have before or my pride would have liked to. And every day I looked at my kids and my wife and found my strength to get back up.
This new year is set to be the Year of the Dragon. The Dragon is a powerful character in the Zodiac. The Dragon is driven, unafraid of challenges, takes risks, rarely asks for help but regularly and willingly helps others. Dragons are passionate. Strong willed. The Dragon doesn’t rely on luck; it relies on its strength and its drive.
I am going to remember 2011 fondly. Not for the events that happened but for what it did for me. 2011 tested me, as much as I have ever been tested before and I passed. And looking back on it, I don’t think luck had anything to do with it.
So as 2011 comes to a close, I’m ready because this new year I will not sit back and hope for luck to carry me through the next 12 months. I’m ready for the challenges and the risks and I’m ready for the hard work and determination it is going to take to overcome them. I’m ready for whatever 2012 has in store for me because I have plenty in store for 2012. This year may be the ‘Year of the Dragon’ but I’m ready for it to be the Year of Me.