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  • Devin Gackle

Note to Self: A new year doesn't have to mean a new life, but it can mean change.

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I'll be honest; I haven't had the best year. In fact, the past couple years have been pretty rough for me, but this past year in particular.

In January, we lost my grandmother. Someone I cared about deeply decided not to be a part of my life anymore; since almost the exact same thing happened the year before, this was doubly painful. After working a contract job for a year, my contract suddenly ended 6 months ahead of schedule.

I have spent much of the past two years making myself miserable, partially because of circumstances, and partially because that is my nature - I'm very good at dwelling on the things that hurt me. The holidays and other social gatherings are especially hard for me, because it's those situations and moments when I'm reminded most of happy moments from the past, or when I'm especially aware that people I've loved decided I wasn't worth the effort, and I feel more alone than ever.

But I'm learning to let go, and I can only hope that I've grown. I'm a firm believer that there's a reason for everything that happens to you, even when it's small or you have no idea what it is. I believe that the storm is supposed to teach you something important, be it drizzle or blizzard or earthquake. And even though sometimes I don't see it, I believe good is supposed come when the storm is over.

My grandmother passed on, but I truly believe she's in a better place, and that comforts me.

I lost one of my best friends, someone I thought I'd never be without; and though he treated me terribly, he later apologized. While it still hurts to know I wasn't important enough to him to be a part of his life, and while I miss him, I was able to reconnect with other good friends, and in the process learned who my true friends are. And I'm all the more grateful for those who haven't given up on me. My trust is not easily given, but I'm learning to be more open.

I lost a temporary job, and even though that put me in a hard spot financially, it brought me relief. Because that job was making me miserable. It wasn't me. And without it, I was given the opportunity to re-evaluate. I haven't been able to find a job that suits me just yet, but freelancing has taught me things I may not have learned otherwise; I've also spent more time writing and submitting my writing, and some of it's even gotten published.

Many of my friends are far away, or always busy, meanwhile my life is generally uneventful and I'm stuck in a place I don't want to be. Sometimes I don't think I'm cut out for any of this. Sometimes I feel so achingly alone, and rejected- it doesn't matter if I know I'm not. But I've spent more time with myself, learning what I need to do to see myself the way others see me. To love and accept myself.

I struggle with depression, but I've gotten to reconnect with my faith; life isn't really going the way I want, but I have learned to trust God's plan.

I get to be a part of different people's faith journey as a musician on my church's music team, and as a high school youth group leader. I went on a mission trip for the first time in 5 years. I bought my first car. I went to Puerto Rico.

In general, but especially because of the smorgasbord that is my life, the holidays aren't easy for me; it's not always easy for me to be cheery, and sometimes I just plain don't want to be cheery. But I'm working on it, and I'm getting there.

I'm not normally one to make new year's resolutions. But the idea of 2017 feels different, maybe more significant somehow. Like something is waiting for me.

I know more about myself now than I ever have, and I feel more like myself than I have in a while; I stopped thinking something is wrong with me. I'm a little unsteady, but I'm raring to jump head first into new possibilities.

So, to kick off a new year, I thought I'd share with you some rules of happiness that I came up with for myself a little while ago. Why share them now? Because I don't think I've been doing a very good job of following them, but I do think they would be great new year's resolutions for myself. They're also not traditionally what you'd think of as new year's resolutions, but more everyday type things.

Devin's Rules for Life and Happiness:

1. Don't think about it.

2. Don't be content with melancholy.

3. Don't say or think negative things (be positive).

4. Remember to pray (talk to God).

5. Never give up.

6. Just be (be here now).

7. Trust God.

8. Choose love (give more love, say 'I love you' more).

9. Don't care too much how others perceive you.

10. Believe in yourself.

11. Take care of yourself.

12. Write at least a little every day.

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