As I have seen plastered all over Facebook, 2016 has been a roller coaster for everyone. There have been many good things that have happened, and also terrible things. I've definitely felt that rollercoaster of emotions this year, but I'm fortunate that I am not the same person that I was at the beginning of 2016.
What has affected my life the most this year was the discovery of the CES Letter and the consequent research of LDS church history and doctrine that ensued afterwards. I was thrown into an existential crisis as my spiritual world view came crumbling down and I couldn't get answers from my spiritual leaders that I found adequate to satiate my curious and skeptical mind. Now that the end of the year is here, I have come to a place where I have set my Mormon asceticism aside to welcome new beliefs and spiritual practices while maintaining the Mormon values that have made me a better, more loving person. I have been able to better empathize and understand people with other world views and spiritual practices and why they behave and do the things they do. I have also realized that the people that I have demonized or pitied because of Mormon culture (mind you, culture, not doctrine) such as Ex-Mormons, other religions, people who drink alcohol or coffee, etc... are absolutely not bad or misled people at all. They want truth just as much as I do, but we all see it in different lights and from different directions.
Next to this change sparked by the CES Letter, my last relationship really changed me this year in a good way. The breakup happened just a few days after the New Years and it continued to be off and on throughout the entire year. What I hadn't realized is that my career path had changed because of him, and thus my passion and vision for my life. I was settling for a career path that I didn't think was going to make me as happy as I could be. Don't be mistaken, he never asked me to shift my passions. I just knew that my passions of dance weren't going to fit with the future of the relationship. And I chose the relationship over my career. That was not healthy for me. Breaking up that many times made me realize that the only constant I can rely on is myself, and because of that I had to focus on the things in my life that I can rely on. A career that makes me happy, my friends, my family, and myself. Relationships come and go, and one hopefully can stay. But it has to stay on the condition that I have the things that I can rely on to sustain myself as a distinct independent human being.
My best friend also taught me what kind of love I deserve. I haven't always had the healthiest perspective on love in regards to my relationships. I thought that relationships were meant to be saved no matter the cost. Things will get hard, but as long as you keeping working, things will always end up being better and the relationship is always worth saving. I learned that that is not always the case. It's important to pick up on patterns in relationships that are unhealthy and try to fix them, but the other party has to be willing to fix them too. Also, if your self-worth is being affected by the relationship, it isn't worth it. Build a self-worth that you make for yourself. That way, no one else can bring you down. Find someone that builds onto what you have already made.
This year I also made a lot of progress in my dance program and career. I performed a Bharatanatyam piece in a concert called "Ragamala Dance Company" and this made me realize that I have a real passion for Bharatanatyam dance. I also performed in the "Graduate Students Salon" and choreographed an original work for "If There Is One Thing We Are Not, It Is Brief." Next semester I have a lot of dance things coming up. I am choreographing and being a guest teacher for a residency at Snow College next week, I'm choreographing my senior thesis work on predatory hunting patterns in animals, I'm dancing as a guest dancer for Wasatch Contemporary Dance Company, dancing in the senior choreographer's piece, auditioning for the Spring Gala Dance Concert, possibly dancing in a concert produced by some graduate students (details are still coming), and doing my senior internship with RDT.
I plan on pursuing this career path. I'm auditioning for Salt Contemporary Dance Company in hopes to make their second company. I'm also auditioning for the Northwest Dance Project's LAUNCH program. I'm really excited for these, but since they are my dream companies, I am not holding too much hope quite yet. They're really advanced and I am behind in my ballet technique. Outside of those two things, I am submitting a piece with Xochitl Marquez for the Red Rocks Dance Festival and planning on doing some freelance choreography. If I don't make any dance companies that I audition for, I plan on doing a ballet academy for a year on top of freelance choreography so that I can get to the level that I want to be at for when I audition for Salt or the NWDP again. This shift in career path so that I pursue my greatest passions didn't happen until this year, and for that I am grateful.
I also had to move back in with my parents because of finances. At first I was really discouraged that I was moving back in with them because I enjoyed the independence that being moved out brought and I thought that it was a failure on my part. After spending a week at home, I have realized that it wasn't only needed because of finances, but also my well-being and emotional health. I have taken a lot of blows this year and I have been reeling in change, so it has been incredible to go back home, not as a failure and having to start over from the beginning, but as a sort of cleansing and rebirth.
So despite the craziness that 2016 has brought, I have learned and grown substantially. And for 2017, I am going to choose myself and going to pursue my passions.