I will not miss you. Every year I find myself writing this letter to the new year with optimism and grand plans. 26 was no different, I was going to pay off my debt, travel across the country to meet friends, fly by myself and go on a cruise.

My plans to finally publish another Cassie Morgan book didn’t happen and quarantine has hurt hard.

Friends I thought I was going to meet, not only did I not get to travel to them, but sometimes you have to make tough decisions to let someone go out of your life. On the other side of that, I’ve become closer to people I never expected to come into my orbit but I’m so glad they did.

If I’ve learned anything this year it’s that I’m the only one who can take care of myself and it’s not easy. Taking care of yourself takes time and patience, neither of which I want to wait for. This whole year has felt like a pause, forcing me to come face to face with some of my uglier habits and my tendencies to really beat myself up mentally.

It ain’t pretty and it’s not fun, but I know it’s something that has to happen. I hopefully have a long life to live but I can’t if I’m in this constant cycle of short highs and long lows. Every cycle you break takes time and effort, and while I’m not where I want to be yet, finally going back to therapy was something longer overdue and I’m so glad I finally did it.

While so much of the last year of my life could be filed under “dumpster fire”, there were still good things in life. I moved into my first apartment. The first apartment where it’s mine, not mine and a roommate’s. While loneliness can be crippling sometimes, the longer we go on in this pandemic, the more I’m glad I don’t have a roommate to test me.

For as long as I’ve lived away from my family, I’ve been enamored by the idea of living alone but never had the financial stability to do so. While I would have been better financially moving in with a roommate, when this opportunity came up around this time last year, I had to take it. My little corner apartment is home, my home, and God, please don’t let them jack the rent too much when it’s time to renew.

Just in the past month, I’ve taken better steps for myself, both mentally and physically. Walks around the local park in the mornings always make me feel accomplished. It’s nice to turn my music on and lose myself in nature.

Even in the middle of a pandemic, where I don’t see him sometimes for weeks in a row, my relationship with my boyfriend has survived thus far, relying on phone calls and texts. In a year where it would be so easy to forget and not take time to communicate, I’m glad we both are.

After a year and a half of growing, I cut my hair to donate again. I don’t consider myself vain about my body except for two things – my hair and nails. So cutting my hair to donate to a kid is putting it back into the universe so some kid can have pretty hair, too. You deserve it, kiddo.

While I know so many are hurting without jobs and I’ve been there before, for a long time, I’m grateful this year to still have my job. To work in industry and a company where we’re seeing continued growth and hiring more people in the middle of a pandemic. Never would I have predicted this job to be so disaster proof, but now I think about it and it makes sense.

Work provided most of my social interactions, and I think it was probably around June when I finally realized I’m not cut out long term to work from home and live alone. So many of my day-to-day interactions happened at work (and I’m sure many people feel the same way), and now I’ve gone a month without having real face-to-face interactions. In fact, at the beginning of the lockdown, I think I actually went a month without because I was doing delivery and pick up for groceries.

The first four months of 26 were pretty amazing and I hope 26 (and leaning into 27) is the last time I have to deal with a pandemic like this. I hope this is the last time for all of us. I’m ready to flip the page on this next year. Always reflecting on the past but eager for the future.

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