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Seven Songs Playlist: December 2016

chapter twelve. (!!!)

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Chapter Twelve: On Still Not Getting It Right

I have no way of saying this beautifully, but I'll tell it to you honestly.

I am not the person that, at the end of last year, I hoped I would become.

Here's the thing: I gave up on making new years' resolutions a long time ago. I'm a firm believer that January 1st is really no different from any other day, and that waiting to make changes is just another form of procrastination. And yet, being the romantic idiot that I am, I still found myself curled up last December with a yellow legal pad and a steaming cup of green tea (which I don't even particularly like, but it seemed to fit the mood of ~self betterment~), determined to map out a foolproof plan to become some sort of Better Me™.

I started small and arbitrary.

1. Only drink black coffee. (Coffee creamer = poison.)

1a. Protect your teeth: always drink the coffee through a straw.

2. Listen to more new music.

3. Stop buying Hawaiian shirts at thrift stores. Seriously: no matter how much you want to be a cool hip girl who wears Hawaiian shirts, it's never going to happen for you.

4. Buy more plants.

4a. Remember to water said plants.

4b. Remember to hydrate in general.

As the list went on, the items on the list snowballed from quirky ~lifestyle changes~ into gargantuan mountains with no navigable path to the summit.

5. Be kinder.

6. Slow down.

7. Do a better job of loving people.

I knew these things were arbitrary and unattainable. But still, I scrawled them down because, by some lanky thread or another, they seemed to be connected to the general Goodness™ I so desperately wanted to embody.

So onto the checklist they went.

Some of these things I've achieved. I've purchased exactly zero (!) tropical-patterned collared shirts; I've finished (!) a twelve-month playlist series; I now carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go—and most days, I even remember to actually drink from it. 2016 has, at a glance, been a year of growth. I started making music again; I welcomed people into my heart who will hopefully never leave it; I moved to Asia, and then back again. In a lot of ways, I'm stronger and better and wiser.

But here's the part that's not beautiful; the shard of glass in the foot.

I'm still not who I set out to be. Despite its apparent goodness, this year has been patterned with the freckles of anxiety and the bruises of self-doubt. I have taken monumental falls flat onto my face (usually by the doing of my own stupidly human hand), and in the process of collapse, have shaken those around me. I've knowingly left the door open for old habits to creep in, and subsequently played the fool when those habits, like weeds, choked the goodness that was trying to grow in my mind and heart and relationships.

It just seems like, even after being taught the same lesson five hundred times, I still can't get it right.

So I'm going back to the beginning. I'm going back to the root of the countless mercies I've been afforded—mercies that have given me hope, and fed my salvation, and trained me to grow—by making 2017 a year of grace.

This year, I'm not curling up with a fancy journal to map out yet another Road to Betterment. But if I did, the plan would be simple, and look something like this:

1. Show grace even when I'm in a hurry and somebody steals my parking spot.

2. Show [myself] grace even when I skip a run to eat an entire chocolate bar.

3. Show grace even while learning the same freaking lesson for the 501st time.

4. Show grace even when it is inconvenient and uncomfortable and painful.

5. Show grace even when it puts me behind in the race.

These are not resolutions. This is my plan for survival.

There is ugliness everywhere. It's in me, and in my friends, and in Asia, and in Los Angeles. It is exhausting and inescapable, and I've spent my entire life trying to run from it and towards this arbitrary idea of Goodness™.

But I'm giving up on running. Instead, I'm going to take the advice my mom gave me in second grade, and simply kill that ugliness with kindness. I'm going to show sickening amounts of grace. I'm going to show grace until I collapse.

I know that this is overly idealistic. I know that I'll be tempted to snarl when I'm wounded, and that I'll want to recoil from the vulnerability of being the person who ~loves more~, and that I'll continue to confuse "justice" with "evening the score."

But even with all that said, I really think it's worth a shot. Because I'm sick of anger, and I'm exhausted by harshness, and I'm so damn tired of bitterness.

I'm done with believing that I (especially as a woman) must be hard to be powerful. I'm done with believing that I have to win to be good.

So I'm just gonna show grace.

Plus, it's what Jesus would do. And you can't really go wrong with that.

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