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My 2022- A Look Back At Heartbreak, Self Discovery, Healing & Growth

Holly_Johnston contributor

How can I best summarize 2022? I’d say the highs and lows were both intense.

This year began with joy and excitement

I spent New Year’s Eve on the back patio of my favorite comedy club, surrounded by friends, anticipating the New Year’s kiss with my new boyfriend. The bartenders were passing around trays of free champagne.

It was drunken bliss and foolish optimism, a belief that the whole year would carry that same feeling...

A few months in, things got HARD

I dealt with several periods of unemployment and financial instability. Finding a job this year was a nightmare; I bounced from office assistant temp jobs to caregiver jobs and even got rejected from a job walking dogs.

This year was the first time I had to worry about basic needs- food, places to sleep when traveling, etc. Like many of us this year, I’d look down at my grocery cart and couldn’t believe what $100 worth of food looked like. It was barely enough to get me through the week.

I learned how much financial stress can affect mental health. I had never dealt with money problems before- I was constantly struggling to make ends meet.

My friends became everything. We couldn't afford fancy bars; instead, we‘d sit outside around a fire and talk about life.

By summertime, things became even HARDER

I got dumped very unexpectedly at the beginning of the season. My caretaker job became scary and stressful– I realized that I didn’t have the skills or training for it. One day the man I took care of hallucinated that I was a monster and threw a bowl of yogurt at me (luckily it was a paper bowl).

My roommates and I were not getting along. And it was 110 f*cking degrees every day. This summer felt like literal hell. The drama made me question my whole life; my decision to move to Texas, and my ability to find love. I went on numerous disappointing online dates. One time I even got a ‘keep your head up’ text from a guy I got coffee with… yikes.

I tried so many times to fix my life. As things appeared to be looking up, BOOM! Another wave of disappointment would strike. At one point an opportunity to move to New York popped up but it quickly fell through. I was too broke for New York anyway.

But there were a lot of highlights, too

I grew a lot this year as a writer and performer. Writing became my main outlet. I wrote about the most painful experiences and a few of these rants ended up becoming comedy material audiences loved. I also discovered a niche in performing on roast battles.

Becoming a freelance writer was one of my biggest blessings. After too many stressful days as a caretaker, I set out to find a career doing something I loved, and I succeeded.

This year had a lot of adventure- I performed comedy in many new cities: Houston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and New York. I also got really good at fitting everything I needed for the week into a carry-on bag.

I formed beautiful new friendships. I did yoga every week, meditated, and re-examined my whole life. Taking care of myself allowed me to be a better friend to those with whom I surrounded myself. It’s funny how one can see outward progress after making inner progress.

I feel like this year has pushed me to grow far more than other years have. 2022 gave me the gift of resilience. It tore me down, but eventually, I rebuilt.

Now I’m sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops, reflecting on the most important lessons I’ve learned this year:

The Takeaways

Admit when you’re unhappy

We have a tendency to write off our own unhappiness, negotiate with it, and make excuses. It’s scary yet sobering to say- I don’t like the way I’m living my life right now, and I need to change something. Change can only come when you address the issues that are plaguing you.

There’s no greater motivation than discomfort

When I was in a relationship, I didn’t realize how mediocre my life was. There were a lot of blind spots. I was underselling myself because I was comfortable.

After the breakup, life felt like an open wound. It was no longer an option to tolerate a mediocre job, neglect friendships, or coast as a comedian. I learned to put more energy into my career and use it as an opportunity to get to know new people. It was hard to see at the time, but the breakup was actually the catalyst that allowed me to demand more of myself, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Loneliness is a real b*tch, but it leads to personal growth

Being alone sucks at first, but was worth it (at least for me). Like a hard workout, it’s painful and at first, you’ll resist it. You may even kick and scream (and re-download/ delete dating apps). But eventually, you’ll get past this wall and immerse yourself in things you enjoy. That’s when true growth occurs.

Pay attention to the people and activities that make you feel at ease during difficult times. These are the foundations for rebuilding your life. If you’re still not completely on board, read takeaway 2 again.

Embrace what makes you feel alive

Feeling sad all the time was exhausting, but It pushed me to ask myself what would make me happy when everything else felt unbearable.

I’d call out of work, find a quiet coffee shop to write, and learn digital art. Some days, these “creative highs” were my only means of feeling good.

I learned how much happier I was when these hobbies and pleasures were at the core of my life.

I owe a huge thank you to the book Single on Purpose (even if I didn't want anyone in Barnes and Noble to see me buy it). It encouraged me to rethink my life and get back in touch with who I was when I was a child. Highly recommended for anyone going through a similar journey.

Say yes to new opportunities, even if you don’t think you’re ready

There were quite a few times where I almost didn’t do things because I didn’t feel “ready.”

Looking back, I’m so grateful for every opportunity I took. There’s nothing better than going from the overwhelming feeling of “how am I gonna pull this off?” to “Oh that’s how.”

At the beginning of 2022, I had never competed in a roast battle. Going into 2023, I have won seven of them.

Farewell 2022

I owe a lot to 2022. It wasn’t an easy one. Like a dad waking his kid up for school in the morning, 2022 stripped the warm blankets off of me and forced me to wake the F up.

I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned and experienced. 2022, it’s been a good run; now I’m ready to let go of the past and move on with my life.

Here’s to 2023!

What were your greatest lessons from 2022? Share in the comments below.