Although I never voiced it, I privately thought of 2013 as the Year of the Phoenix. As a teacher, I tend to measure my life in school years more than in calendar years, but by last January 1st, I had created my own version of the Chinese zodiac to represent my idea of what the coming twelve months would be. The previous year had been a strange and trying one, a year that had forced me to reassess the person I'd become and the one I wanted to be. So I headed into 2013 with my lovely new peacock feather tattoo and all the peacock themed gifts I'd been given (the peacock is equated with the phoenix in Egyptian mythology) as symbols of the rising from the ashes that was going to take place.
I guess I forgot about the part where the phoenix goes down in flames again. And that happened pretty quickly, in less than three months actually. One day, I'm happily teaching yoga to my World Religions classes as part of the Hinduism unit, and the next day (the Ides of March at that) I find out I won't have a job the next school year. If that doesn't constitute going down in flames, I'm not sure what does. It wasn't the worst thing that ever happened to me, but it's definitely in the top five. As early in the year as that was, there was no question that it would be the defining event of 2013 for me.
And it certainly has been. On a very basic level, I'm pretty sure it is all I thought, talked, or wrote about for most of the remainder of the year. It made me question my professional abilities and my self-worth in a way nothing else ever has. It forever altered some of the relationships in my life and effectively ended others. Most importantly, of course, it led to taking the job I have now, which brought me full circle to once again reassessing the person I've become and the one I want to be.
All of this led to spending much of 2013 asking, "Why?" Those who know me well know that I have an almost obsessive need to know the purpose for everything that happens in my life, to find the greater good in the traumatic things that happen. The rebirth that comes after the inevitable deaths. It is only in the past few weeks that I've begun to have an inkling of what the answer to "Why?" might be.
It was in considering those possible answers that I found the new animal for own personal zodiac. Sometime in the weeks after losing my job, I came across an article entitled "I'm a F*cking Unicorn. (Or 10 Things to Do When You Get Fired for the First Time.)." The basic premise of the article is this: A unicorn shouldn't hide its horn and pretend to be a horse just because so much of the world wants horses. This only represses one's best qualities and, ultimately, leads to heartbreak.
Somewhat ridiculous sounding, yes, but also somehow completely fitting for heading into a new year. If I can be a phoenix rising from the ashes, I can be a unicorn in a world of horses. Whatever 2014 may bring, that is what I intend to do.