Mark Nessia

As December fades with the sunset and January looms over the horizon, we enter a time filled with optimism and promise, eyes filled with hope at the thought of fresh starts and new beginnings.

A new year brings with it a unique celebration observed worldwide with abundant spectacle and anticipation. No other event denoting the passing of time compares.

And rightfully so.

It’s an opportunity to write a new chapter in a new book that’s not necessarily a sequel to the novel that preceded it. While it’s really no different than any other day, waking up to Jan. 1 is exciting and invigorating with the “clean slate” that comes with it, kind of like starting a new job, moving to a new city or beginning a new school semester where everyone has A’s.

But New Year’s is also a good time to reflect – to look back when everyone else’s eyes are locked forward.

Every year has its share of memorable moments, as well as one’s we’d like to forget, but we really can’t move on – to grow and mature as individuals – without looking back to see how far we’ve come, acknowledging the experiences (good and bad) that helped shape us into who we are today.

For me, 2018 was a challenging year. I was required to adapt to situations that were not ideal, lost contact with longtime friends and, at one point, closed myself off to those who only had my best interest in mind.

Could I have handled things better?

Most definitely.

Would I have done it differently if given the chance?

Absolutely not.

During the lowest points, I learned things about myself that I didn’t know were there. I realized my biggest strength – that I care too much – is also my biggest weakness. I discovered that I placed control of my personal happiness in hands that were not my own. I was forced to accept that some relationships can’t be salvaged and you have to walk away to save yourself from further pain.

Despite all that, I was reminded that I was never truly alone.

There are people who will never turn their back on you even if you turn your back on them. And for every person who leaves your life, there are three more ready to take their place. You just need to look up when things are down to find them.

This is a thank you to those who made 2018, with all its difficulties, memorable. Those who never lost faith in me even when I lost faith in myself. To those who helped me smile through the tough times and reminded me that, like the transition from one year to the next, it all will pass. You know who you are and I am tremendously grateful to have each and every one of you in my life.

You make each day feel like Jan. 1.

As we welcome the new year, may our eyes remain filled with hope, our hearts free from hatred and let us live lives full of love in 2019 and beyond.

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