A Nothing Year

“2023 was a nothing year”

This is a phrase I kept finding myself saying as the year came to a close and the new one began. I feel like it’s not quite accurate, but I can’t think of a better way to put it. When I say, “2023 was a nothing year,” I don’t really mean nothing happened at all. In fact, 2023 was a rich year full of ups and downs, but all things considered, I don’t think it did me too wrong. 2023 was a nothing year not because it wasn’t eventful, but because it felt like for once in a long while, it wasn’t constantly trying to take me down. It’s like the math didn’t add up. All the goods minus all the bads… well, it just seems to level right out.

After the nightmare that was 2022, I couldn’t help but find myself spending 2023 consistently waiting for the other shoe to drop. What sickness is going to wipe me out next? Who’s going to die next? What great tragedy shall become me now? Well, the fact is that none of it happened. I did lose some things in 2023, specifically connections. Some ties were severed. Others, frayed. But so many cables got connected that I don’t feel so rotten anymore. 2023 was a nothing year.

I dove headfirst into university and have been thriving in the geography department. I love the grad students I’ve become friends with who are closer to my age, and I love how supportive and fantastic the faculty is. I love diving into GIS technology and getting to explore spatial data in more and more depth with every semester. I went into college with a very “because I feel like it” attitude, and I’m coming out of my first year with a more “because I deserve it” kind of attitude, which is pretty refreshing.

A map I made for my GIS final project using data from MassDOT/MassGIS

I was also lucky enough to accompany Dr. Eve Vogel and some other amazing students on a fascinating and enriching research trip to Montreal and Côte-Nord, Quebec, and over the course of the semester learned so many cool things about the intersections between energy policy and rivers surrounding hydroelectric power generation and the energy markets that dictate it. This was such an amazing experience, and I cannot understate how amazing Eve is, as well as my research partners Luca, Greg, Eamon, and Hunza! We met with all kinds of people from all kinds of fields and trades and heard so much from so many different perspectives. We even got to tour a dam, and visit the Innu people of Ekuanitshit!

Me and Luca in our swagalicious PPE before our #classified tour of the Romaine-1 dam and generating station
Outflow canal and transformers of the Romaine-1 central generating station.
Another large-scale hydro dam in Quebec, Manic-1
Dr. Eve Vogel (left) and her research team, with Rita Mestokosho (3rd from right) & family at the Maison de la culture Innue

Having said “all I wanna get out of college is a free trip to Quebec!” and having managed it, I was left without further direction. So, I have ambitions now to attend graduate school in Montreal if I can manage it, because I’ve finally allowed myself to dare to dream. I’ve wanted to have the chance to live there as long as I can remember, but always conveniently put it away on a shelf marked “out of reach dreams.” But, I decided, who cares if I fall? In order to fall, I need to jump, and I just might make it.

But I haven’t leapt yet. 2023 was a nothing year.

My health has been taking a general turn for the better. I am grateful every day for the simplest things now, like being able to walk, breathe, and control my muscles. I am grateful every day my body cooperates with me even the slightest bit, and I’m so grateful that my stamina has returned to the point that I have been able to start walking for exercise and leisure again. In the Spring semester, I was constantly detouring to find ramps and elevators. In the Fall, I pretty much always could use the stairs, and barely needed my cane at all. 2022 knocked me down, but I feel like I’m already back to my (cripple standards) normal levels of functioning. 2023 was a nothing year.

I went on medication for my mental health issues that, for the first time in my life, actually seem to be doing something. The sharp edges that have been keeping me prisoner for so long have softened at long last. The chaotic frequencies on which I used to operate have compressed and I feel more stable and emotionally grounded than I have in quite some time. I’m still sober, 2.5 years now, and I’m so happy to not be in the state I was back when I was still drinking. It’s taken a few years, but sober me is finally starting to find the self that drunk me left behind.

Going into 2024, I’m pretty optimistic. I refuse to let myself go around feeling like the other shoe has to drop, because if it does, it will whether or not I’m worried about it. Instead I should focus on cultivating the immediate future I want to see for myself, and I think I’m doing pretty well at that right now. I’m 26, and I’m feeling fine. 2023 had to be the way it was in order to get me to the state I’m in now, and I’m glad for it.

I hope everyone who reads this has a peaceful and rewarding 2024–– here’s to another nothing year!

P.S. Can you guys believe I’ve had this blog for 6 years now? I never thought I’d ever see the day I kept one going for this long. I also switched servers and themes halfway through 2022 and never really mentioned it, did I? Huh.

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