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How Do You Measure a Year?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Seasons of Love by Jonathan Larson on Grooveshark

It was this year that I finally stopped measuring my life by semester.

Do grown people still do that? For so long, my year began in the fall, took a break around Christmas, and began again in January before ending in the spring. It was Freshman Year and The Summer Of, over and over again, I guess until recently, when I started running out of things to call them. I finished graduate school in October of 2012, and then it was 2013.

Recently, I've been thinking about the years that passed by not so long ago, the ones I always refer to by name--those years that made me into who I am today. I look back and am often slightly embarrassed by the girl who was there at the time, living out the scenarios that are now my memories. Those last years of high school seemed so crucial, and yet today I look back and say "how stupid," even though I needed them.

Junior Year of High School is when I started dating the boy who, five or six whole months later would be the first guy to break my heart. He taught me how to get over something and be stronger for it at the end of the day. I was really into my running and my school and my friends and my religion and I never anticipated a day when things would be different. I applied to colleges and went on visits and tried to picture a day where things might change, but I just couldn't see it yet.

Senior Year of High School was dramatic and life-changing in the way that high school is. New boyfriend, new heartbreak, except that this one taught me how not to get over something, and all the ways you could be regretful at the end of the day. I graduated and went to college, convinced that I would never change, that I would keep all the friends I had left back home, that this must be what growing up felt like.

Freshman and Sophomore Years of College were full of new people and self-discovery; a psychology major and a Spanish major and a whole lot of intro classes before I finally declared an English major. I learned that just because someone is handsome and nice doesn't mean he is sent to you from heaven above or something, and that notion was challenged at the beginning of Junior Year when the boy I believed to be my soul mate sat down on my bed and broke up with me. He was everything I thought I ever wanted, and for a year I had ignored how hard I needed to try to be everything he thought he ever wanted. Real love is work sometimes, but it isn't hard, and I hadn't learned that yet. He taught me to love myself and be happier for it at the end of the day.

The rest of Junior Year and the following Senior Year was what I suspect college is really supposed to be--I spent time making awesome memories with my friends. I was deeply engrossed in my courses, and read hundreds of pages a day in between classes. I started feeling like William Shakespeare and I knew each other well. I stayed out too late, often drank too much, and wore ridiculous outfits to theme parties with my roommates. We got in stupid fights and never really learned how to communicate until much later, but they were my best friends and we loved each other. We ate chips and queso dip almost every afternoon in our living room. I got a tattoo, wrote every day, could barely picture a life where I wasn't a student, and met the man that, five and a half years later, I'm about to marry.

My life has been so blessed. As I grow older I am learning to be so thankful for everyone whose path has crossed mine; for everything that has gotten me to where I am today. When I was in Virginia for Thanksgiving, my old roommates and I got together for a weekend and we picked up right where we left off and had a great time, but we still all seemed so much different--the better, adult versions of ourselves. Life happens and you lose track of time. Earlier this week, Rob and I were driving to dinner together, bundled up in our coats and scarves and I almost laughed looking out the snowy window thinking about winter in Minnesota--this random possibility that has become a reality for us. We live here now--we're done with school and we're working and this is our home now. I love it. I wouldn't change a thing.

Maybe as we grow older, we encounter fewer defining moments and feel less inclined to identify years in a special way. But maybe that's not true, either, because in 2013 I got engaged to the love of my life and moved to a new part of the country. I started blogging full time and challenged myself to write more and cook more and let go of the things that scare me. I'll never forget this year--it has been one of the best. Losing my dog has made it bittersweet, missing him so much and knowing that none of us will live forever, but hoping that we'll all be reunited in some way in the future.

And with 2014 looking at us from the last page of our calendars, I know that this new year will also be life-changing as I walk down the aisle and get a new last name and will probably move again (this time with my husband) and try to find more ways to push myself and get better and feel even more thankful for this life we're living.

All of these years are special, no matter how we refer to them when we look back.

Wishing you all love and peace and happiness, every day of every year.

Photo credit: Winona Grey Photography


  1. Ahhh...growing up...when my grandmother was in her seventies, she was putting on her lipstick and looked back at me from the mirror, then paused and said, "you know, when I look in the mirror I see an old lady, but on the inside I still feel like I did when I was sixteen." At the time I thought, "Wow! When I am grown up, I want to feel grown up." Now when I look in the mirror, I still see me, just an older me. I guess that is what she was trying to tell me.

    For as long as you live, Freckles, you will look back and think how silly you used to be, and so glad your life has evolved to where it is now. Sounds like you have figured out how to enjoy the journey, that puts you ahead of the curve!

    Congratulations on this new phase of your life with Rob!

    1. Thank you, Gayla! I definitely do try to enjoy it :)

  2. Loved this, Megan. Long time reader, first time commenter. Your writing is honest and inspiring.

    1. Thanks Jamie! That means so much to me. Glad to have you here.

  3. We are about the same age and since yesterday was my birthday I has some of the same reflections. My high school best friends and I are still best friends and when we get together we too just pick up where we left off like we've never been miles and miles apart but instead of crushes and last night's football game our conversation is babies, insurance, and wedding anniversaries but I love that we have each other to grow with and be our new selves! Like you said I would never go back and change the path I've taken because it has led me to this point in my life that coulnd't get any sweeter!

  4. I love reading these types of posts. I find them, especially yours, to be so inspiring and so encouraging. I feel so uplifted having read this and it's made me think a lot over my life. I just did a post on my own blog about 2013, but I didn't really share too much from the heart, I stayed a little vague, I guess. I really love how deep and personal this was. Thanks so much for sharing little pieces of your life with us!


  5. I know this year is going to be great for you, so many exciting things to look forward to! Also, I haven't listened to that song in forever, but I love it! :)

  6. I loved reading this post. It is always when the year seems to come to an end that we find ourselves reflecting on all the years that have past. I hope nothing but great things for you this coming up new year :) Thank you for sharing!


  7. I really enjoyed reading this and relating to it in little ways. I look forward to reading about all of your adventures in the new year!

    The Rambling Fangirl

  8. This post is wonderful! And you picked a wonderful song to go with it. :) I used to measure my years in semesters, too. It sounds like you had a wonderful year and have another great one to look forward to.

  9. 2014 will be such an exciting and joy-filled year for you!

  10. Such a wonderful post. I can resonate with it on so many levels. Thanks for sharing and good luck this coming year! I'm sure it will be different, yet better than the one before :)

  11. I can't quite find the words to express how I want to respond, so I'll just say that this is a really lovely post :)


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