2016, 2016, 2016….it didn’t really feel like a year? It just ended up being way more different than I was prepared for, both in good and bad ways. But because 2016 has already had so much crap, I won’t focus as much on the negative in my life for this post. I will bring up some heavy things that are also healthy in many ways. If you have been following me on social media this year, then you have seen how my career as both a reporter and podcaster has evolved.
While it has definitely been a lot of positive progress in those areas, there have been challenges on both fronts that were, well, challenging. Although I think in the end, challenges are good regardless because if we don’t face them, how can we evolve? How can we grow if we don’t face tough tasks? One thing that I swore to myself I would always do when I learned that I had Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism, was that I could never let it get in the way… of anything. That it could never be a reason for me to not try harder. Despite having this disability, I feel I have definitely grown as a journalist, as a podcast creator, but also as just a regular individual in the world of entertainment.
When I was growing up and was placed in special needs school for the majority of my school time until the 8th grade, I was always surrounded by negative voices that would repeatedly tell me that someone with my disability could never be successful. That I would barely be able to make a career for myself in anything I pursued. Back in the summer, I ran into one of those negative poopers and boy, did it feel fucking good to prove them wrong. 2016 taught me a couple of things and one of those lessons was that I don’t need to be in a place where I allow negativity to come in. So while I have made new bonds and connections this year, there were a lot of relationships that I had to end this year because it was just not healthy for me. It is honestly one of the most adult things I have ever done and let me be clear before I go on: I have never been able to see myself as a proper adult because parts of my brain don’t understand how to. But I force myself to find ways of realizing that I’m not a kid anymore. 2016, as hard as it was, helped me grow up more and I’m sure that is something that will continue in 2017.
Something else that I did come in terms with this year that I have been trying to deny for years since I graduated high school…is that I have been in a second round with depression. A friend of mine told me recently that she couldn’t imagine me as someone that could get affected by depression because I’m always come off as a very happy person. I’m happy for many things, but even I can feel the pain of heartbreaks. The first time I dealt with depression was during Junior High that took me all the way into high school to get over and it wasn’t easy. This year, I got to a point where I had to look myself in the mirror and say “Andy, you are suffering from depression, it’s a fact and you need to look for help.” It was just….rough and heavy to come to terms with that. I questioned it too a lot throughout 2016 because I kept telling myself “Why do you have to be sad about? You have an amazing group of friends. Your podcast is doing fantastic and so is your network of shows. You have an amazing writing job where you get to be in the world of entertainment every day. Why. The. Fuck. Are. You. Depressed?”
“If this night is not forever
At least we are together
I know I’m not alone
I know I’m not alone
Apart, but still together
I know I’m not alone
I know I’m not alone – Alan Walker’s Alone”
As you can see, I don’t go easy on myself, which I guess can be a good thing. But it was a fact that I have been depressed for almost four years since 2012 because while I have a lot of light in my life, there is still negative space that I just haven’t gotten out of. Fortunately, I have started to go to a psychologist who is amazing and someone I feel comfortable to talk with, every week. Even though I have to say things that I am afraid to say…once the words have been spoken, my heart feels easier. A while ago, I was having a Ted Mosby phase from the final season of How I Met Your Mother where he was saying goodbye to things. This line from Lily Aldrin was something I needed to be reminded of when I felt that I had to depart myself from some of the good aspects in my life when in fact…I should just toss out the bad in my life.
“You wrote down all these things to say goodbye to. But so many of them are good things. Why not just say goodbye to the bad things? Say goodbye to all the times you felt lost. To all the times that was a no instead of a yes. To all the scrapes and bruises. To all the heartache. Say goodbye to everything you really want to do for the last time. But don’t go have one last scotch with Barney… Have the first scotch, toasting Barney’s new life. Because that’s a good thing, and the good things will always be here waiting for you.”
I turned 23 years old in October and one thing I realized was that it is time to start making some of my dreams happen. I can’t focus on things that I can’t control anymore because as 2016 made it very clear: we only live once. So like Lily said, I have to say goodbye to things that I’m ready to be done with. By this time next year, I hope to be sitting in an apartment somewhere in Los Angeles and write an even happier post to my friends, family, fans/listeners and heck, even to the people that didn’t believe in me. By this time next year, I want to be looking in the window and into the heart of the City of Angels. By this time next year, I want to have overcome some of the health hick-ups that I’m currently dealing with. By this time next year, I want to be smiling and feeling victorious of having beat the hell out of my second round with depression because I know I will kick its ass, I did it once so I should be able to do it again.
After all, if the fastest man alive can overcome his obstacles every Tuesday nights, then I should be able to do so too, with or without powers. I may not have been struck by lightning, but I was struck by an even better gift, a family of friends that have proven to me every day of every month of every year, new and old ones, that I’m definitely no longer fucking alone and that I will always have people that are there for me. To close out this year, I want to quote one of my new all-time favorite TV shows that I got into this year, Friday Night Lights – I wish I had discovered it when it was still on -, but these words from Coach Taylor have kept me going this fall as I get ready to begin my 2017. So to anyone who is reading, whether you are a friend (old or new), a family member, a fan, a listener or a reader of any kind: