Oh Hello Jo — So Long 2019

Jo Rosenthal
The other day my brother told me that it’s ‘not good writing’ to start a story with a quote. So here I am not starting this story with a quote, but an anecdote about why it’s *perhaps* not proper. Because I just wrote that I feel like I can put a quote that I’ve been repeating in my head a lot lately.
Last week I got a notification from Spotify that my top played artist for this year was Blood Orange, with my second being Amy Winehouse. It makes perfect sense to me because I’ve been listening to those two artists on repeat for quite sometime now. Although Amy is no longer with us (RIP) and Blood Orange doesn’t come out with new music that frequently, I always find myself listening to their entire discographies to pass the time.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this one Blood Orange song, which sounds more like spoken word poetry to me. It’s called By Ourselves and it’s from the 2016 album Freetown Sound. I don’t know much about it other that when I heard it for the first time, I felt really understood. I keep finding myself in situations where I feel like women around me aren’t on my side, don’t like me for whatever reason or make the world feel like it’s one giant competition.
Anyways, my favourite lyrics in the song are: “Feminism says as a woman in my arena you are not my competition. As a woman in my arena your light doesn’t make mine any dimmer.” With feminism being one of the most powerful bonds that we have, why does it sometimes feel like we couldn’t be further apart?
My judgements towards other women make me ashamed. Why would I want to say something bad or assume something about someone when I know that they are probably struggling just as much as me, or maybe even more? I know deep in my heart that I want to support people from all walks of life, but sometimes I find it so hard to do that when I want what they have. Comparing yourself to others only makes you bitter, yet it seems like we use it as fuel to boost ourselves up or bring each other down.
My judgements towards others is something I am not proud of, so I feel like if I write it down and see it right in front of me, I will be able to get through it and become a more thoughtful person. While I spend so much of my time being mad about what cards I’ve been dealt, I think that the only way for us to improve ourselves and support each other is to move together.
Over the summer, I became friendly with a group of girls who are all in the fashion industry. They all come from different backgrounds and have incredible jobs and glamorous lifestyles. I sometimes find it extremely difficult to hangout with them because I want to be like them. I want to be an editor at a magazine who gets invited to parties and gets free stuff and always has blown out hair and nice shoes. I find myself thinking so deeply about this that it infuriates me because I don’t know where I went wrong in my life to not be at the same place they are. I am so mad at myself sometimes, but I’ve come to realize that that’s not going to get me anywhere. I am so incredibly discouraged sometimes, but I just keep telling myself that being jealous is not going to solve any of my problems. I just have to continue to work hard and be kind and loving and genuine and be grateful for the things that I do have.
I am so lucky to have made so many wonderful friends this year who have kind hearts and genuine souls and want the best for others. I’ve always struggled with making friends, but I feel like as I get older, this is something that has fallen into place.
During the cold months, I find myself being incredibly lonely. Instead of reaching for someone to date who probably isn’t good for me, I’ve reached for friends. That’s something I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say.
Every week I attend group therapy, which has been such a huge help for my emotional well being. Last week, to end the year, we made lists of everything we want to leave behind in 2019. After we made our lists, we ripped them up and threw them away. I cried. I got extraordinarily emotional because seeing all of the ‘bad’ qualities I have makes me want to be so mad at myself. Instead of being mad at myself, I took a step back and realized that all of these negative pieces of myself can be turned into qualities that I love. People constantly talk about self love (which sounds stupid and cheesy) but if we don’t have it, how can we expect to succeed and have others love us?
2019 was incredibly difficult for me emotionally and physically, but it was also filled with beauty and love and kindness. I fell in and out of love, made the most wonderful friends, moved out of a mentally exhausting apartment and into my forever spot, traveled, hugged my cat A LOT, landed my dream column (aka this one) and saw and felt things that I never believed I’d be able to. I could spend a lot of time focusing on all of the things that I didn’t like about this year, but that would only set me back. For 2020, I want to continue to grow as a loving, big hearted person with an open door policy for anyone who needs to talk, but this year I am going to set boundaries with myself and others and hope that everything turns out okay.