A year full of small victories


Emma Zawacki

A picture I took while out to brunch at Nonna’s with a few friends

She doesn’t have much to say this week.

She doesn’t seem to have any outstanding emotions or unfinished business with this world, and maybe, her column from last week is to blame for that. 

She wrote five hundred words of poetry—apparently, that’s all she had to give. 

She’s feeling particularly bad about it too; she holds herself to unreachable levels of perfection, pleading with herself to do everything. 

But she’s too busy to think of a metaphor to describe this feeling, so she’s ignoring it until more of her free time clears up, till all of her scholarship essays are done and she finishes the stack of slow burns next to her bed.

She doesn’t have much to say—ignoring the future has left her hyperfocused on her present.

A present that has contained long, treacherous treks up ice-covered cliffs that leave her lungs burning, but not as much as they burn after jokes told, leaving her stomach sore from fits of giggles. She twirls cold spaghetti onto her fork and shovels it into her mouth in between fits of incoherent laughter, their bodies slowly curling more and more into their respective armchairs.

The tin in her car is slowly running out of minty tabs for her breath after her morning cup of coffee. Her running theory is that her brother is to blame, but she’ll forgive him after dragging him up the escalator at Barnes & Noble and forcing her favorite pastime upon him. She hates little more than driving alone, and he indulges this silly fear of hers, if only for the Altoids she keeps in the catch-all of her car.

2022 was supposed to be a year where she finally started taking care of herself, yet she’s fallen asleep more nights than she hasn’t with her eyelashes still coated in mascara and her eyebrows gelled down. But she’s managed to keep her room clean for longer than a few hours and has recently decided that 2022 is now a year of celebrating the small victories and the improvements she’s making. 

She doesn’t have much to say—ignoring the future has left her hyperfocused on her present.

Victories like taking her siblings out to lunch on one of the quietest Saturdays they’ve had in what seems like years and being three books ahead of schedule on her Goodreads account—she’s made good headway to meeting her goal of 40 books this year. She only has one cup sitting on her desk, and that’s the lowest her dish count has been in years, checking most things off of her to-do list each night is an accomplishment she’s trying to celebrate.

And instead of simply avoiding the things that scare her and saving them for the nights before the deadlines, she’s been trying to tackle things one step at a time, one letter after another as she attempts to savor this feeling—this feeling of being alright, alright with the chaos, alright with giving herself the time and space that she needs.

She wanted 2022 to be a year of perfection, but she’s working on 2022 being a year of taking care of herself—listening to “illicit affairs” more times than necessary, wearing her fancy sunglasses despite the snow, and painting her nails every couple of days in an effort of self-care.

She may not have much to say this week, but she’s been busy.