• Matt Brown

Reflections of 2018

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

For many of us 2018 has been a long year. We have had our struggles, our triumphs our challenges and our pains. Some of us have suffered the loss of a loved one, others struggled with their own private demons. For each of us there has been a lot to reflect on and none can say that these experiences can be over shadowed by the experiences of others.


Each event represents something significant to us, something that for better or worse cannot be taken away. I’ve had a lot of those. From my silent struggle with addiction, to letting years of resentment and bitterness hold me back and keep me prisoner over stupid issues.


Over the past year I’ve had several sobering moments. It was like blinders being taken off and I could see some of the problems for what they were. The real challenge was learning how to overcome them. Some of it was a matter of faith, some was also being able to step back and say this doesn’t work.


When the blinders come off though, you’re very naked and vulnerable. Choices have to be made on how you approach the necessary change that must be made. With my job I realized I had control issues, I was argumentative, defiant and at times disrespectful to my bosses.


I would argue my point of view as the only solution, but at the end of the day, they are the boss and I’m not. So after a serious conversation, I realized I had to stop. I started seeing how my attitude was influencing those around me and creating a toxic environment. Something had to give and so I began working on changing my attitude. As a result things got better.


Words are more powerful than we realize and often what we say in anger becomes another’s curse. If we say it long enough, for that person, it becomes their truth. I’m not perfect. I still get mad, but I fight hard not to let my temper speak negatively into someone’s life. It’s a tough shift, when you’re used to responding like that so often; especially in retail.


Over the past year, I feel like I’ve grown, not just as a person, but spiritually. I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for family. Even last night as I lay on my mom’s couch still sick, but spending New Year’s with my family, something just said, ‘treasure this moment’.


My parents are getting older and sadly, they aren’t going to be here one day. They’re both in their sixties now. I can honestly say that I’m grateful for the time I’ve gotten to spend with them. For the longest time my dad and I never got along. Even when I was a kid we’d argue over how my math homework was supposed to be done. He’s an engineer so you can imagine, lol.


This year was the first year I got to spend with my brother in a very long time. He recently just got married (also another amazing milestone in his life) and has a little girl on the way. My brother has had his share of struggles in life and witnessing how far he’s come these past few months was beautiful. It was like a caterpillar, becoming a chrysalis and transforming into a butterfly.


One such struggle was his accident. His hand got caught in a machine at his job and tore off his finger. Through it all his attitude had been anything but depressed. He hasn’t let it phase him. Instead he makes jokes about it and smiles. He’ll say, “I can’t give you five, but I’ll give you four.” In a few more weeks he’ll be a dad. It’s his first and I can say that I couldn’t be prouder.


It’s not just him, but also my sister and other brothers. I’ve always been distant, family was good, but I just never really connected well. Over the past year something started changing. I see my sister and her kids more often and my other brother’s families as well. All told I think I have thirteen nieces and nephews (not joking).


This past Christmas it really hit me how proud of each of them I am, especially the older kids. They are smart and surprisingly wise for their age. They’re still kids, so it doesn’t always sink in, but I just smile and say, “You’ll see.” One of my nieces has even made it her mission to outwit me.


There’s still so much to think about as I sit here trying not to cough up a lung, lol. When I think back to March and the conversation I had with a good friend. It was the most sobering and galvanizing conversation of my career as a writer. It lit a fire that had long gone out. While I spoke about writing, getting my work published; some part of me stopped believing.


After that day, I was lit. I’d spend every waking moment writing when I wasn’t working. People started taking notice too. People also started taking me seriously as well. It was like my flame ignited their belief and for the first time, I believed I was actually going somewhere.


It became more than, “Well I have this world I write about.” My writing changed practically overnight. My friend could tell you that there was no comparison between book 1 and book 2. It was like someone else had written them. Subway became my official office and it became the place where everyone knew who I was. They even have my sandwich memorized.


It was during those months that I met my best friend. We used to work together and oddly enough, I never took much notice. I was so consumed with my books and writing, with my small world that I never saw her coming. She still teases me about those first few months.


She took an interest in what I was doing and after I invited her to sit with me at lunch that was that. I’d never met someone so strong and beautiful. I fall more in love with her every day. Like any relationship we have our struggles and in my heart I know she’s the one I’m going to grow old with. No one will ever take her place.


If I can say anything about 2018 is that for me it was a year of change. Change doesn’t come without pain, but sometimes it’s this pain that empowers us to take the necessary steps. I’ve known depression, battled many insecurities and learned some really hard lessons, but I wouldn’t take it any of it back.


I remember bingeing Netflix when I felt like total garbage or looking at my job and asking, “What’s the point?” Still, there is a point and I know I’m not garbage. On those days we have to fight that much harder to remind ourselves of who we are and of our identity.


I’ve met some talented and incredible people on this journey as a writer. Shared in their hurts and joys. Celebrated their success and supported them as best as I know how. I feel privileged to know many of them and am grateful for their influence on my life.


For anyone who reads this, whatever last year was for you take its ups and downs and let them propel you. 2018 is gone now, step into 2019 with a purpose, not a resolution. Move ahead and be who you are meant to.


Regards,

Matt Brown

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