Good Evening 2015

It’s 1:05 on the morning of New Years Eve, 2015. This is a written reflection of my year and the things that lead up to it, good and the bad. Whether or not you can relate, I hope you find it interesting.

As I write this, the song Vienna by Billy Joel plays through the same speakers I received as a gift for Christmas in 2004. Alongside those came my PS2. All of which launched my interest (obsession) in all things tech. I was entranced; the pure excitement from setting the system up to the nightly terrors I had from Mortal Kombat levels. At the time, these sort of things don’t seem like much, especially to those around you. In reality, they can turn into so much more than an obsession.

Today, I proudly call myself a professional Web Developer. This year, I landed my first full time, salaried role as a part of a small team in Cleveland, Ohio. That childhood interest sparked something inside of me that will forever be etched into my soul, and for that I couldn’t be more grateful. I do something I love each and every single day (and get paid for it). Who knows if I would be doing the same without that Christmas gift in 2004. Who knows what little things spark life changing things. I now know to look forward to those little things just as much as the life changing things each new year.

One of the biggest changes of 2015 was the end of my classroom education. After 14 years, I parted ways to take on a new adventure. This, by far, was one of the most difficult choices I’ve had to make. It’s difficult saying goodbye to the same type of life your friends have, scheduled exams, sleeping in until 10 am and going out until 3 am on a Wednesday. It’s scary driving hour long commutes, encountering a new workplace, meeting deadlines with monetary affects, and critiques that aren’t in the form of an alphabetical letter. As difficult as it was, it was the most enlightening and fulfilling thing I’ve ever done for myself and those around me. Difficult and scary aren’t synonymous with bad.

In November, the worst thing to happen to my family turned out to be the greatest blessing in disguise. My 51 year old father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The night I was told, it felt like blankness. So many emotions that you truly couldn’t feel anything but the unknown. Despair and anxiety set in and all I could think were negative things. Realizing that wouldn’t do anything but worsen the situation I put on my smile and tried to be a strong point in the fight to help him defeat it. Reiterating to my family, over and over, vocally and through texts, we had to be strong for him. They responded amazingly, providing amounts of support and love I hadn’t ever seen. This brought my mom and dad closer, my brother and sisters closer and myself much closer with all of them. Recently, we were granted a true Christmas miracle. Doctors told my dad he has autoimmune pancreatitis instead of pancreatic cancer. AIP is easily mistaken for cancer but rarely occurs. We were not only granted a miracle but forever bettered and closer because of it. I truly couldn’t put into words how grateful I am for that. A miracle will only materialize if you welcome the unexpected.

This is for all who believe they’re “heartless”, I used to be you. That’s not to say there’s something wrong with it, to each their own. About a year and a half ago, I decided to quit being “heartless” and open up to others. 2015 was the first full year of this change. You’ll have your feelings hurt, your trust tested, your fair share of failures but I promise your happiness will be heightened. Like I said to each their own but to me life isn’t the same without that one girl or guy who can bring you lower and higher, by doing so leveling you out. At one point, I was an egocentric boy getting tipped well for delivering hamburgers and milkshakes curbside all the while neglecting my family, friends and the girl I liked. She made me realize how big of an idiot I looked like. She knew my potential, my true character. She didn’t change me, she showed me a different way of myself. That’s what you need, that’s what everyone needs. Mandy is that girl for me and I couldn’t be happier to have her. Embrace those who challenge you and your current train of thought. Whether it’s a family member, significant other, friend, coworker or stranger; for those are the people who truly care.

Friends, this year brought us much of the same which is exactly what we wanted. Let me explain: it seems like everything else in life is about growing and making better but when it comes to friends, you know you’ve got the perfect ones when you don’t want any of it to change. Trips to cabins and cottages, late nights spent drinking too much and whispering obscenities at each other, talking way too deep about life and laughing while reflecting on those same talks, letting me know I’m wrong when I am and raising me up when I do right. You are the base layer to an amazing year; and thanks for another amazing one.

I leave you with this quote for when you’re reflecting on this year and planning for next.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self. — Ernest Hemingway

Thanks 2015, you were incredible.