If I had written down a plan for my year on January 1, 2014, I can tell you it would not have looked like these past 12 months did.
Twelve months ago, I signed my first lease in New York City, with a Craigslist roommate (I was previously subletting). I faced some personal health issues last spring. Then in April, I was laid off without any warning from the job that brought me to NYC. I started working at Verily shortly thereafter. I stood up beside one of my best friends who got married in June. I went through a breakup with my boyfriend of a year and half in August. In September, both my grandmother and my father had stints in the hospital. Then this December, I moved into a new apartment, in a new neighborhood, with a new roomie.
Change was the name of the game—and I, like so many other women, struggle with change. It's uncomfortable and scary and anxiety-provoking. But it's during change that we discover our true selves. After going through all these ups and downs, many of which were very difficult in the moment, I can now look at them each as a blessing. I recognize there are plenty of people who have had much more trying years.
I, Maggie Niemiec, am OK. More than OK actually.
I see all these situations as things that have allowed me to really get to know myself. They've strengthened my faith and helped me grow into the woman I strive to be: healthy, confident, courageous. There's also such beauty in change, in not knowing what's around the corner—my year was, well, tumultuous, yet I made it through feeling more alive than 365 days ago.
This year, if I were to make any resolution, it would be to start a fresh relationship with myself. To be a little more selfish. To not worry about being single or being in a relationship or being "it's complicated." To just allow the adventure to unfold and embrace the mess that comes along with that. I resolve to take care of myself—body, mind, and soul.
Because life is messy, ladies. For one, you can literally be laid off at any moment. My entire office was out of the job when our magazine went under. We came into work one day and were told this was it. What did I learn? My job does not define me. It's easy to get swept up in living the young professional life and striving for career success—especially here in NYC. At the end of the day, a job does not make me me. And I'm grateful for learning that lesson at age 24.
Another lesson learned in 2014: I am more of an adult than I give myself credit for. Sure, I still don't understand investments and the stock market and health insurance. I did, however, manage to move apartments by myself. (With the help of two lovely moving men.) I'll have to move again in a few months, and I now know I will be able to handle it.
Perhaps most important of all, I've learned relationships—whether with friends or significant others—can change, even crumble and break. But that does not mean we have to crumble along with them, or that they will stay broken forever. Recognize those experiences for what they are, acknowledge your feelings, and know it will pass. Giving myself a chance to feel weak, vulnerable, and sad—to truly grieve—is what allowed me to heal from my breakup.
I realized I was putting all my eggs into the relationship basket, so to speak. Part of that is my personality: fiercely loyal and caring. And part of that was me neglecting to take care of myself and my own needs along the way because I was more focused on being a couple, a unit.
I do not think a person has to "have it all together" in order to be in a successful relationship. That's faulty logic because, quite frankly, we are never going to be 100 percent "together." But I do think it's important to acknowledge our own shortcomings—for me, that's a tendency to try to control, to think way ahead rather than enjoy the moment—and to know that only we can change ourselves. It's good to recognize when we may be in a season that naturally necessitates singleness. And when we are confident and secure in our own lives, the rest will fall into place.
I believe everything happens for a reason. I loved my old job, but without the layoff, I would not have had a chance to work at Verily. Even when going through a breakup, I was in pain, of course, but I began to see how much it was helping me mature. People enter and leave our lives at certain times. I really believe everything happens for a reason. All I can do is take care of me and really nourish this relationship with myself, so I am ready for my next relationship when the time is right.
I am excited to embrace the adventure in 2015—not by creating some five-year plan, but by instead enjoying the journey and trusting life will happen exactly as it should.