What makes a year significant? It’s just an arbitrary pairing of 365 or 366 consecutive days. The fact that a year begins on the first of January and ends on the 31st of December truly means nothing. The earth makes a full cycle around the sun between June 6th and June 5th too, but the passing of a year from that random date lacks direct significance. So why, if the same amount of time passes, is a calendar year so important? Why am I typing this feeling nostalgic and why are you reading this feeling my nostalgia? So I ask again, what makes a year significant? More importantly, what made 2013 significant?
It really is hard to evaluate a full year in just a day. It’s even harder to evaluate a year in a year. The only thing I know for certain about 2013 is the same thing I knew for certain about 2012 a year ago and 2011 a year before. I know it’s over. You can look at year as the things you did and the things you should’ve done, but that seems too narrow. You can look at a year across the cultural landscape and according to historical significance, but that seems too broad. You can contemplate your existence in the world and how you affected it, but that seems too philosophical. So what does that leave you? Memories, thoughts, ambitions, dreams, firsts and lasts. A year worth of isolated incidents and connected happenings. Can that be summed up? Should we even try?
I think it’s simply human nature. I know for a fact it’s my nature. When one thing ends, it just feels right to mourn its disappearance. Right before I left home for college before my freshman year, I wrote extensively about nostalgia. In it, I wrote “Nostalgia allows us to think back, nostalgia allows us to remember everything with happiness goggles on and forget hardship. Nostalgia is great, and in this I guess I am trying to say goodbye to this part of my life. Coming to reconciliation with an entire lifetime is difficult, but I guess this is my catharsis.” I was, as everyone naturally does, struggling with a big change in my life when I wrote that. But upon rereading this, I realized more than just the fact that I have become exponentially better as a writer in the past two years. I’m not really nostalgic for 2013 because it’s ending. I’m nostalgic for 2013 because of how I’ll remember it in 2014 and how I’ll remember it in 2024. I’m not remembering for the past. I’m remembering for the future.
So this is an essay for the future me. This is an essay for next year’s Nick Suss and this is an essay for adult Nick Suss and this is even an essay for the aged and decrepit Nick Suss. This is a guide to what I learned, what I did and what I failed to do in 2013. This is what I want to remember, what I want to learn from. This is who I was, who I am and who I became. This is me in 2013.
The first thing I remember about 2013 is football. I woke up, walked downstairs in my parents’ house, and watched the Capital One Bowl. Georgia played Nebraska and won. From there, life went on. The beginning of 2013 was when I first stopped referring to myself as someone wanting to be a journalist and started calling myself a journalism major. 2013 was when I decided that StoriesHouse alone was not enough to be a real journalist and began working for the Red and Black. 2013 was when I finally grew up. In 2013 I accepted the invitation to my first college part, went on my first college blind date and saw it go horribly wrong. In 2013 I looked for, argued about and finally settled in to the first apartment I ever lived in. In 2013 I forced myself to get over my phobia of phone calls and talked to complete strangers on the phone with relative ease. I went to my first work meeting. I went to my first concert in Athens. I learned how to stay awake until 2 o’clock in the morning every night and still wake up refreshed at 8 the next day. I became cynical and disenchanted with the choices I made in my first few months of college. I staged what could have been an impromptu intervention in my bedroom after tackling a hallmate to the floor. I sang Justin Timberlake’s Mirrors at least 1,000 times. I paced. I studied in a frenzied panic. I sort of grew my first afro, according to friends and family. I spoke to representatives from four different teams in four different locations on the same day. I saw my name in print for the first time, on the front page no less. I went on a blind date with less than 30 minutes of notice and then botched the follow-through. I ate 40 Chicken McNuggets in one sitting and then walked a mile of gut-wrenching agony. I had a panic-attack the night before a midterm about something completely unrelated to school. I felt rejection and didn’t die because of it. I said goodbye to one of my best friends as he embarked for his life’s adventure. I finally decided to change what was around me. I reclaimed my existence as the person I was rather than the person others wanted me to be. I chose to burn bridges and I chose to mend fences. I finished a year of college.
I stared déjà vu in the face and called it my friend. I saw how the people I had once counted to be my closest peers could change in the blink of an eye. I reconnected with my best friends and chose to distance myself from the self-created hardship of college. I binged on nine hours-worth of Arrested Development in one sitting. I broke a year and a half long streak with my buddies and finally won my second trivia night. I nearly threw out my back laughing at This Is the End. I went from being reluctant to drive on the highway to finding it boring. I ashamedly sang Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble to myself in the car nearly every day. I coached little turds at football and didn’t understand their inside jokes about me. I correctly guessed that a friend had appendicitis. I somehow wasn’t disappointed by Man of Steel. I went to Alabama. I stood inches away from Jadaveon Clowney and what seemed like miles away from Johnny Manziel. The top of my head was in a picture in Sports Illustrated, proving once and for all that height matters. I met a new cousin for the first time. I disastrously tried writing fiction and saw it become so bad and convoluted that I had no choice but to give up. I watched every episode of Frasier in a five-week span. I moved into my first apartment.
I spent a week in Athens wondering why I wasn’t in Forsyth County. I got a visit from friends from home, also wondering why I wasn’t in Forsyth County. I got a new job title, finally going from calling myself a journalism major to calling myself a journalist. I made a completely new group of friends, these from classes instead of convenience. I found a confidant across the hall where I never thought I would’ve found one. I argued about religion and the meaning of life with the inebriated. I befriended those who I had once envied and those who I had once considered to be different than I. I made entire classes laugh with my quick wit and infuriated impressed professors with my quick wit. I obviously became no less cocky, but retained the modest spirit that made me who I am. I spent my birthday marooned from my bedroom, with too much schoolwork to do to even care. I returned to Clarke Central High School and was left misty-eyed at the memories of my football-playing days. I wrote a graded article for class about sitcoms. I vowed to distance myself from the cancers of my life but inevitably grew closer to them. I spent hours outside talking to someone who won’t even admit to liking me, let alone being my friend. I watched the first year of my life without Derek Jeter’s presence and the last year of my life with Mariano Rivera go by and became swept up in the nostalgia of my favorite sport. I spent my first Saturday in a press box and got pretty good reviews out of it. I came home. I pocketed a ticket to the Georgia/Florida game, valuing rest over the experience. A teacher told me to shut up when I was talking about going out because he knew I was actually watching TV. The Titans made me cry, but that could really pertain to any year. I envied friends for having girlfriends, but did nothing about it. I contemplated telling off those who I felt wronged me, but let cooler heads prevail. I pretty much recited John Mulaney’s “New in Town” backwards and forwards three times. I got stuck in a never-ending Twitter conversation with people I barely knew and came to know them as a result. I laughed at the existence of Georgia basketball. I tried recording a podcast, but it never went online. I tried recording another podcast, but it too never went online. I chuckled with friends over breakfast and lunch, but rarely over dinner. I watched someone I know go down the wrong path but didn’t know how to help. I came home for Christmas after taking a hearty load of finals and work on in the last week. I finally got to see the return of Ron Burgundy on the silver screen after six years of waiting since I saw the first movie and my life was forever changed. I wasn’t disappointed.
Now I sit with just over 24 hours left in 2013. In the past hour I have poured a year worth of facts onto my computer screen and smiled. Though some of those facts were sad or disappointing, they are memories that are, for the most part, uniquely mine. When I go back and read this next year, I know that I’ll be smiling the same way but for a different reason. Maybe I’ll be laughing at how insignificant some of these minute occurrences were or maybe I’ll be chuckling about how much I’ve grown. I don’t know what 2014 may hold, but I do know that this last story should sum up 2013.
For those who believe in the principle of symmetry, you’re going to love this. As I said before, my first memory of 2013 was waking up to watch Georgia face off against Nebraska as a fan who wanted nothing more than to be a journalist. I watched that game with a keen eye and participated in my tradition of saying things before commentators do just to bug the people I’m watching the game with. And how is 2013 ending, do you ask? For me, I’m not going to a party or watching the ball drop with my family. I’m driving down to Jacksonville to actually be a journalist at a bowl game on New Year’s Day. And who is playing? Georgia and Nebraska. So here is the duality of life for you. How can two years begin the same way for the same person, but the same person be a different person?
To quote a song from 2013, “It’s a fragile thing, this life we lead. If I think too much I can get overwhelmed by the grace.” To see just how much I’ve grown as a person in the past year may just prove to me that a year isn’t arbitrary. Some people believe in predestination and some people believe in chance, but one can’t help but find a sort of beautiful eeriness in the accidental symmetry of my last 365 days. If there’s one thing I hope, it’s the all of you still reading through this after the drudgery of a year worth of my memories know one thing. This wasn’t meant to be a diary entry or a brag sheet or a list of regrets. This was my year. This wasn’t your year. Because I bet if you go through your year, you’ll find that the you at the beginning and the you at the end wouldn’t really get along. No one likes change, but everyone needs it. To further quote the song, “But all things change. Let this remain.” So let’s let this remain. Let 2013 remain what it was. Remember it the same way tomorrow as you will on your last days. So I guess to answer my original question, nothing specifically makes a year significant. We, and the people we’ve affected, make years significant. And I guess that’s something I’ll carry with me into 2014. Happy New Year.