I had a lot of trouble writing this piece. I knew I wanted to, somehow, sum up 2015 for you–and for myself. It was a challenging year for myself, on both a personal and professional level, and, every time I tried to write, my words were more disgusted than triumphant, more pained than pleased, more anguished than hopeful.
I didn’t want to write that. I didn’t want to tell that story. I didn’t want to memorialize 2015 with the lasting impression of a year of stumbles and setbacks.
I have always counted myself uniquely fortunate that when I write, you seem to want to read. I have not been able to–no matter how I try–figure out why exactly you choose to pry over the words I spill on to this screen, but I consider it a supreme privilege and a blessing.
As well as a responsibility.
Airing my grievances with 2015 does not serve you or myself any good. I have always looked at this forum as an outlet for my deepest thoughts–thoughts that I am not always able to articulate through other mediums. And as much as troubles and struggles are a part of this life, they do not properly express or exclaim all that 2015 was or should be remembered by.
Sure, I could write to tell you about the difficulties and stresses of my 2015, like:
- How the CEO of the company that hired me sight-unseen from California announced his retirement on my first day at work in Boston, causing ripples of tribulation through the organization
- How I negotiated my exit from that company on my 27th birthday, late into the evening, and walked a long walk home, headphones blaring, without any real direction in a new city
- How I lost a big client at the end of the first quarter of 2015, the wages from which I was poised to officially launch my practice as an LLC before the summer
- How I emptied my savings, even more so than I already had moving back across the country for the second time in two years, so that I did not have to file unemployment over the summer
- How I was fired from a new job in the fall on the day I was eligible for health insurance–without explanation or even eye contact from my boss
- How I had to file unemployment for the first time in my life and go through the process that millions have had to go through in their lives
- How a historic snowfall crippled the city of Boston making me more physically ill than I had been since I was a small child
- How I lost the two most beautiful emeralds in that mounting snow and came to terms with the fact that I had to stop looking for them
- How I had to, on the last step of enrollment, cancel my plans to pursue my master’s degree because I had to squeeze every last cent I had
- How I had to borrow against my 4o1K, knowing I could not repay it and encounter penalty, just to make ends meet for a month
- How I had to ask my mother, who doesn’t have a dime to spare and from whom I haven’t asked a thing since I was in high school, for a loan in order to stay in a city I never imagined being in
- How I had to turn in my car, a vehicle that brought me from Waterbury to Silicon Valley and back again–and, in turn, from a boy to a man–because I knew I could not afford the payments any longer
- How I broke down one night in the fall, knees on the ground, tears streaming down my face, because I truthfully believed I was finished
I didn’t want to write that story. And, truth be told, I feel guilty summarizing as I have. Those are the low lights, but as this year ends, those are the things that stand out. And I hate that.
For Christmas this year, I gave my little brother my old laptop. Truthfully, it was a zero impact gift. I owe him more, and I will give him more. He needs it for the graphic design classes he will be taking–and that’s so very awesome.
But, the reason I bring it up is, I had to wipe the hard drive before giving it to him. I was able to, in the last month, time travel through the last five years of my life, save the last one on a new laptop. From political essays in college (Eli, what’s up) to cover letters to companies when I was leaving California. Photos from college relationships, to road trips, family gatherings and various nonsensical get-togethers with friends. From Coolspotters presentations to Record-Journal yearly reviews. From Soundbeet to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
I saved a lot more than I threw out. To me, figuring out where you are going is deeply rooted in understanding where you have been. I take that with me every single day.
Tonight, December 31, 2015, I found myself staring at my screen and at the many drafts I had pulled together elaborating on all the nonsense that made up my 2015. I was disgusted by all my words.
I stepped back from my screen, stood up and took another sip. I sat down on my living room floor, by the fireplace, and stayed there for about 30 minutes. There’s no reason why anyone would sit there, in fact, no one has probably ever sat there. There isn’t a chair or couch in that spot. Truthfully, it faces where I have been sitting for the last year of my life–and there I sat, staring at my last 12 months.
That 15 feet of alteration, that slight shift in juxtaposition, gave me every bit of perspective I needed.
2015 was not about me. Not even a little bit. And, God damn it, had I been so foolish.
2015 was not about all the (now seemingly tiny) problems I encountered. No, 2015 was so much bigger than me.
When I look back at 2015 in the years to come, I hope that it’s the year that things fell apart to begin coming back together for me, sure. But, it will ALWAYS be the year that:
- Tom and I spoke about our relationship in front of a crowd for Big Brothers Big Sisters, spawning new fundraising and launching him on to the board in Southern Maine
- Justin and Michelle got married, confidently proclaiming the fairy tale relationship we all wish we had to the world
- Chaz and Emilee got married and allowed me to read something I had written for them at their reception, ending it with the first GFY reference in American wedding history
- James and Savanna purchased their first house, a home that will shelter get-togethers and parties for years to come
- Chris and Jess got engaged, assuring another chaotically perfect bachelor party with my best friends
- Cam found a great career opportunity that puts his skill set and passion to work–and I could not be more proud of him
- Andrew found a job in San Francisco that he loves and is finally living the professional life he dreamed about riding the CalTrain from Santa Cruz to San Jose to Palo Alto
- Lauren found a fantastic position that allows her to travel the world and write news the world needs to read
- Jamey and Sam got engaged, adding another member to an already incredible extended family I feel truly honored to be a part of
- Brian and Misha came to visit from Florida and I got to meet Mielle, the most beautiful little girl in the entire world
- Katie and Dave bought their first home and shared several incredible memories with me in Boston during my first year in the city
- Gaelyn graduated from college and shared several incredible memories with me that, hand to God, I will never be able to remember
- Tim proposed to Adriana, proving that, above all odds, the right girl can and will put a guy on the right track and turn him into a fantastic man
- Randall and Lauren bought their first home, a place for their relationship to continue to evolve and mature as she has done for him
- Mitchell and Shannon broke ground on their new home, a place where they will raise their family and give Little Homie Jake Ryan a little brother or sister to love
- UConn Football made its first bowl game since 2010
- Justin and James graduated from law school and passed the bar, starting their careers as lawyers and forever my legal aid
- Randall started his MBA program, furthering his education and propelling him as far as I can honestly say I always knew he would–and further, believing in him the way I do
- Brian bought his first house, a home I know he loves and cherishes more than anything by the way he cares for it
- Derek bought his first home, the sequential nature to Brian’s bullet in this list which surely and publicly cements me as #HouseMichaud
- Chaz’s bachelor party in Montreal saw more laughs and Five Guy’s burgers than anyone could ever truly count
- Justin’s bachelor party in Atlantic City was highlighted by too much sun and not nearly enough beers or Capones
- Jay finished the academy and became a police officer, making me as proud as I could ever be
- Jon took over his father’s company and became a businessman, reassuring that I did not write his college papers in vein
- The love and support from all of my family and friends kept me going when absolutely nothing made sense
- The strength and perseverance of you all kept me fighting when the only thing I wanted to do was quit
- I never told any of you how much your determination and continuing to strive helped me battle through the toughest year of my life
- So many amazing things happened to the people in my life, whom I love more than anything, that I cannot possibly remember or list them all here
When I look back at 2015, it’ll be back at all those things–not the unfortunate circumstances I found myself in this year nor the things that affected my family I chose not to list. And I know I’ve missed dozens of other milestones in the lives of my loved ones, so, please, do berate me when the NYE hangovers fade away.
As much as I want to honor all that you have done in 2015, I urge you–and myself–to not look back at it. It is now done, and there is so much more to do next year.
At my deepest core, I romanticize the passing year and the one that will be. I always have. So, here’s to 2016, a year that will be highlighted by:
- The kickass job I began the last month of this year, and the enormous amount of potential that lies ahead of me leading social media and content strategy at a university in Boston as well as shaping curriculum for students focusing in communications and journalism
- Cultivating my new domestic and international clients for my side business and, hopefully, formalizing the LLC before the year ends
- Starting my MBA program, paid for by the university that employs me
- Sharing in even more memories with the people I love more than anything in this world
But, 2016 will not be about me, either. No, 2016 is already chalked up to be another great year.
- Jacque and Diego are getting married
- So are Frank and Katie
- CJ and Myriah, too
I can’t wait to fill in all the blanks with you.
Cheers. I love you all so very much.