Hi sparklers, welcome to the last day of 2019. We know that in some ways time is just a construct, but for a lot of us, today holds some kind of meaning, even if we can’t quite articulate why. Rhythms, rituals, tradition, social obligation. Can I handle the seasons of my life, etc. Tonight is New Year’s Eve, tomorrow is New Year’s Day. Even if it’s not real, the constructed beginning of a brand new year feels auspicious, does it not?
A few years ago I vowed never to ask anyone about “new year’s resolutions” ever again, so I’ve tried to approach January 1 of each new year since with a slightly different perspective. Small shifts, deep reckonings, sweet aspirations, kind acknowledgements of all we have accomplished over the past 365 days. This year, I find myself with one burning question in my heart: WHAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE?
When I posed this to Team Autostraddle more than a few people asked me what the heck I was talking about, which is fair. I’ll be addressing this new ethos more deeply in an article next month, but for now I’ll be brief: I wanna figure out what I need, and then I wanna work out the action items I have to take to really bring that need into reality. I want every single one of us to do that. It really feels that for a variety of reasons, we no longer have time to fuck around. We need to get honest, dream big, and make major moves (even if those actual moves are minor, they will have major consequences, ya know what I mean?). Anyway I told everyone they could follow their hearts or straight up ignore my question if it was inconvenient for them, and we landed on the gorgeous smorgasbord of 2020 energy you will find below. Please enjoy this vulnerable roundtable as a final 2019 gift from Team Autostraddle to you, dear Autostraddle Community. And of course, please take to the comments to let us know about your bottom line.
We’re ready for ya, 2020. Come on in.
Abeni, Contributing Writer
In 2020 my bottom line is $0. ZERO DOLLARS! That’s how much debt I’ll have on my credit card. About three years ago, I essentially hit rock bottom, almost died, made a lot of mistakes, and incurred a LOT of credit card debt. Like, a LOT. I had more credit card debt than money I made that a whole year. About 18 months ago I finally got mentally stable, got a decent full-time job, and have also been hustling – I’ve been working 7-day, 60+ hour weeks – and I’ve paid off more than half of that debt! And soon it’ll all be gone, and then I can stop having that hanging over my head and stressing me out, and I won’t have to pay like $200-300 just in INTEREST every month. I’m envisioning it and manifesting it and it will happen!
Drew, Contributing Writer
Having an end of year birthday this year – that included a break-up, a move across country, dating as a queer person and a woman for the first time, getting staffed at this website, writing two pilots, meeting so many of my closest friends and favorite people, and a lot of other personal and professional achievements and struggles – was chaotic in a way that was consistently surprising. As I’ve reflected on all of this I’ve come to the conclusion that not only was this the craziest year of my life, but it was also the best year of my life. When I look towards 2020 it simply makes this season carry double the reflection. Since the mid-way point I felt comfortable calling 2019 the craziest year of my life. Anytime I said that people looked at me like – wasn’t there a year where you literally switched genders? And while that’s true, the year I came out was chaotic in a way that was sort of cliché. It wasn’t easy but there was a guidebook. I want to continue on this path I’ve started on. I want to keep working hard, keep making mistakes (different ones hopefully), keep listening and learning from the people around me, and keep moving towards a place where who I truly am and who I appear to be is more the same. And if we’re talking specific goals, I’d like to be staffed in a TV writers room by the end of the year.
Heather Hogan, Managing Editor
Last year in this very roundtable I said the thing I wanted to manifest in 2019 was a clear-eyed understanding of everything and everyone in my life, including myself. For some reason, no one I love slapped my laptop out of my hand and yelled at me about “What kind of Edgar Allen Poe hex are you casting on yourself right now!” I’m not saying I regret it, but I am saying this year was a reckoning. It wasn’t all bad. Or rather, there was profound goodness juxtaposed with what was bad. There was this one night at 3am where everything was excruciating; because I had a pinched nerve in my neck caused by a now discovered, severely degenerative spine situation; and as I paced around my bedroom like a caged animal in the most intense and relentless pain I’ve ever experienced, I looked over at Stacy, my partner of nine years, and the absolute white-hot devotion on her face pierced me so deeply in my spirit I sat down on the floor — and, for a few fleeting moments, I didn’t feel anything but keenly and singularly adored. I’ve never known something so clearly in all my life.
My physical therapist follows me around these days and says: “Heather, breathe.” And: “Heather, relax.” She does this six to twelve times a week. It’s become my accidental mantra. I whisper it to myself, bark it at myself, glare it at myself in the mirror. Heather, breathe. Heather, relax. Sometimes it even helps!
That’s my bottom line in 2020. I am so proud of the woman I’ve become, and I wouldn’t be that woman without the hard hard hard stuff, but merciful goddess: I have got to learn to breathe and relax!
Kamala Puligandla, Deputy Editor
I’ve been gearing up for my very own Kamala 2020 for a little while now. The real Kamala 2020, as I’ve been known to say. I’m excited for my book to come out, and I’ll be facilitating this project on mixed identities, called Hybrid Vigor, that I’m thrilled about (and also excited to get into this new realm of mixing writing, art and workshops) and I’m working at Autostraddle now!
My astrology apps have been telling me that this year is the time to “mature” and “get serious” and either say goodbye to things in my life that are proving difficult or commit to them more fully, and figure them out. I think they might just be reading my texts, but that’s exactly what I’m in the thick of doing. So I’m prepared to invest deeply in myself and learn new things about my emotional self. I want 2020 to be the year that I embrace and get comfortable with the full extent of my power as a leader, a writer and also a friend and lover.
Malic White, Contributing Writer
2019 was a year of making calculated changes to help me inch closer to my goals, followed by a whole lot of floundering. To create more space for writing and stand up, I left my theater company of seven years and started living alone for the first time, assuming that the extra time and solitude would make a more prolific writer. Well, kids, it turns out that removing all existing structure from your life without putting a new structure in place is like ripping the tablecloth out from under a bunch of fine china when you’re a really, really bad magician. Important stuff breaks.
In 2020, I’m giving myself the gift of structure. I’m committing to a consistent writing practice. I’m writing in new genres and in new places (my “bed office” no longer serves me). I’m getting back to that “let’s try this and see what happens” mindset of my early 20s, when I was making performance art that involved a lot of fake blood and smashed eggs and usually some kind of obstacle course. If I create more work and create more consistently, I’ll be making a living (no more side hustles) as a writer and comedian by the end of 2020.
Laneia, Executive Editor
Trusting that I’ll be ok, that’s all I can do in 2020. Just trust that I’ve done the work and that I’m ready for whatever’s coming. I can’t control all of it, but I can trust myself.
Vanessa, Community Editor
In 2020 I am going to sell my book. A few years ago I said I was going to get serious about my writing work, and then I applied to grad school, got into grad school, broke up with my girlfriend, left Portland, moved to New York, and got down to it! 2020 is the year I graduate from my MFA program and I am proud of the work I have done in school but I want to commit to continuing that work when I am no longer in a program that fosters my creativity and hands me deadlines I must meet. I have finally successfully broken the habit of putting air quotes around the word WRITER when people ask me what I do, and I strongly believe that taking myself seriously has allowed others to take me seriously, too. There’s no point in hemming and hawing about what I truly want out of life; we are marching toward death every day and if I don’t believe in myself, who the fuck is going to? I am a writer, I have been working very hard on a book for (more than) two years, and in 2020, I am going to sell the damn thing. Cheers!
Meg, Contributing Writer & Photographer
In 2019, my focus was on expansion and trying new things. I wanted to put myself out there, write and create every day, embrace a spirit of ambition and experimentation – and I honestly can’t believe how many of my dreams turned into reality. 2019 was a challenging year in so many ways, with unexpected losses and major shifts, but it’s also the year I started publishing my writing, shared personal essays for the first time, and developed creative work that is setting the foundation for the future I want to build.
For 2020, I want to keep expanding my ideas of what’s possible. I tend to limit myself, shut down dreams before they get too magical, keep my heart locked up tight so I won’t get hurt or disappointed. But I know how incredible things can be when I try anyway, when I smother those doubts and take a chance and go after what I want. So this year, I plan to draft and pitch a tarot book. I hope to share more personal writings, with new audiences, in new places. I dream of finding my place and purpose, of inspiring others, of creating beautiful things.
I want to step fully into my magic and power in 2020 – it’s a big goal, but I don’t think it’s an impossible one.
Rachel, Managing Editor
If at Christmas you tell the truth (lol) then at NYE you get to sound dramatic, so: for 2020 I want to make sure I make everything that happened in 2019 worth it, somehow. It’s been a harrowing year for so many of us, and myself and so many people I love feel like we’re just sort of barely limping over the finish line; I want to promise myself that there will have been a point to all of it! What can I use this for? What can it show me? How can this be an opportunity to show up for myself and people I love? I feel sometimes like we spent all of 2019 talking about how terrible everything is; in 2020 I wanna talk about how to make it all worth it anyway.
Valerie Anne, Contributing Writer
In 2020, I just want to get better. I want to finally find a damn therapist, actually start making smarter choices re: what I put in my body, reassess relationships in my life that are doing me more harm than good. I spent most of the years between 1987 and 2019 prioritizing other people, and I still want to do that whenever I can, but I don’t want to do it at the expense of my own health and happiness anymore. For a slew of reasons I won’t get into, I’ve spent the past two years or so just sinking. Unable to find as much joy as I used to, unwilling to keep trying. Knowing the steps I should take to get out of the muck but just lying there instead. But the end of this year has felt like the start of a shift. I feel like Mary Poppins at the end of the movie; I can feel the winds starting to change and I’m ready to fly off on my umbrella and start something new. So I guess my bottom line, hard goals for 2020 are: get a therapist, find a new day job, write more, try harder. Get out of the muck. Get better.
Bailey, Contributing Writer
Last year, I moved back to the UK and worked hard to build a new life in an all-too-familiar place. It meant figuring out who I was in that context and where I ultimately wanted/didn’t want to be. This year, I definitely tried to put myself first, but still managed to get caught up in trying to please other people. Some of my achievements took longer than they should have because I allowed other things/people to come first.
In 2020 I want to continue to trust my instincts, maintain my autonomy and always remember my worth. I want to practice these things so that I can: finish the MA I just started after ten years out of school, keep writing about queerness, travel to see friends across the world, deliver workshops and perform my work in front of crowds again. 2020 is the year of rediscovering my confidence and what feels good for me.
Natalie, Contributing Writer
I feel like I should say something really introspective in this space…something that reveals a shortcoming in my personal or professional life that I want to remedy in the new year. But no matter how long I sit with this prompt, my bottom line remains unchanged: I just want a new fuckin’ president in 2020.
I can’t get discouraged.
I can’t let my cynicism about [insert eventual Democratic nominee’s name here] change my focus.
I can’t let good be the enemy of great.
Kids are in cages. Our climate’s in crisis. Our community’s in danger.
We need a new fuckin’ president and shame on me if I don’t spend 2020 doing whatever I can to make that happen.
Carmen, Associate Editor
My bottom line for 2020 is probably the same as Natalie’s, to be honest? If we are talking about “bottom, basement, absolute truth, line drawn in the sand” — then the most important thing in 2020 for me is this upcoming election and the fight for whatever’s left of this country’s democracy. So that is #1.
However, since Natalie already outlined the importance of that task with much more fire and elegance than I could bring here, I will also say that in 2020 I’m looking to work HARD. I have a lot of personal and professional goals that are finally just at the grasps of my fingertips, and in 2019 I put a lot of puzzle pieces in place to make them a reality. This year I want to see it over the finish line. I want to keep fighting for a better country, but also fight for a better Autostraddle. I want to see our website’s readership base diversify, I want our writers — especially our writes and editors of color — to feel supported and that they have the tools to flourish. I want to be doing those things while also continuing to be patient and kind with my body. I’d like to keep fighting to make time for my family and set up healthy, strong work/life boundaries that allow for that to happen.
Honestly, I’m very bad at New Year’s Resolutions type things, so what I’ve written is probably not as inspirational to you, our readers, as I’d hope it would be. I wish I had some nugget of advice that you could write on a Post-It and put it on your desk to carry you in to the new year. Instead I hope you’ll take comfort in this: There’s a whole team of us out here fighting for you. You are not now, nor are you ever, alone in this world. And we got your back, so you can go on and do whatever is your dream to accomplish or be.