This next year will be or it won’t be. So let’s just see.
Thus is my realist mantra when standing at the threshold of late December every year. Attempting to temper the hopefulness with the practicality. The romanticism of a year ending and another beginning must always be paired with the knowledge that it’s just another calendar, and much of the magic we hope to get out of a fresh slate depends solely on ourselves, as opposed to luck and stars and superstitions.
And while I’m all for positivity, I also must remember that 2018 has swiftly kicked me in the rear enough times that at this point, I hardly have any ego left at all. But maybe that’s a great mindset to be in when facing a new year. January, after all, was named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and passages, doorways and transitions. He possesses one face that looks forward and one that looks back. In other words, there is a wise balance to Janus that few other deities so explicitly hold. He’s a guy who knows where he’s been and yet is hopeful about where he’s going. Learn and be better. Be leveled, then attempt again.
While writing Bob Cut Mag’s “A Year in Review,” I wasn’t just reminded of the wonderful stories we were able to tell (though surely, that was not lost on me), but also of how my own life was progressing as the stories were being written. The wildest of parties, the new friendships, the outdoor explorations and travels, the fledgeling relationships that spurred incendiary hopes—even if they ultimately went nowhere at all. Looking back reminded me that no year gives a person everything they wanted. If it could, there’d be little point to diving headfirst into another.
How fitting is it then, that just before the New Year we have this time for pause. There’s a hell of a lot to want out of a life, but in my better moments I am overwhelmed by something else: how much there is to love. A viewing of “It’s A Wonderful Life” and festive glass of wine (or five) with my friends and coworkers always reminds me of this. So unmet resolutions and wayward ambitions aside, we’re ridiculously lucky. I hope you all feel that, too.
This season, before you self-flagellate with all the countless ways you can be better—thinner, more successful, less easily broken, I want you to celebrate the whole stinking pile of your life. Your mistakes, your misgivings, the triumphs and the beautiful trenches. And as you face a new year square in the nose, remember: no man is a failure who has friends (and keeps them).
// Photography by Amy Shamblen.
Isabella Welch is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in history. Her writing has been featured in history journals, travel blogs, as well as her own site, New Carthage. Director of Editorial & Creative Development at Bob Cut Mag, lover of stories and tinto de verano, she’s usually found wandering the Headlands.