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Reflections provide some year-to-year growth, yet leave room for some deja vu

New Year's, in my limited experience, always seems to accompany an intense case of nostalgia. Once January strikes, I'm spun into a ghost-of-New-Years-past sort of journey, encompassing the varied events of the most recent 365 days.

Because my birthday falls on the first, the onset of the syndrome is usually marked by thoughts of how much (or how little) I've changed since my biological clock last upped an increment.

2010's first strike of midnight sent me reeling: around this time last year, I was memorizing lines for one-act, trying to pick a speech category, dreaming in calculus terms and bumbling my way through college brochures and scholarship applications.

Since then, I've nabbed a high school diploma, performed in three dramatic productions, juggled two summer jobs and spent enough time at one college to complete the paperwork to transfer to another.

(I recommend you take a moment here to reflect upon all of your doings and dealing from 2009. Go ahead, I'll wait. Done yet? No? That's fine, take your time, I'll stand over here and whistle show tunes. Finished? Terrific! Now that you're super impressed with your multitude of undertakings, let us continue.)

After the past year has had a chance to fully seep in through my skin and I've doused myself in a drugstore's worth of pore-minimizing tonics, the symptoms progress.

The next several weeks of the as-yet-unmarred new year are usually littered with random bouts of déjà vu, similar to when you wake up from a dream only to find that the memory of it will shadow everything you do throughout the day.

Usually, this means I think about Christmas, and how it related to every Christmas before hand, and then I move on to how I spent past birthdays, and what I did on previous holiday breaks, and how hard it is to go back to school once it's over.

This year's batch of years-gone-by reminded me of spending Christmas '08 in New York with my mom's family, of going to a New Year's Eve party at Jake's old apartment, and of having to write papers and read books back when the holidays didn't mark a break in terms.

When compared with the here and now, it all seems so long ago: I spent both Christmas and New Year's at home, with the exception of a 2 a.m. January first trip to the Fryin' Pan in Dilworth (because Perkins is outdated, doncha know?), and I won't go back to school for another month while I wait out Hamline's super late spring semester.

(Again, I will pause, and request that each of you recall the various ways in which you've spent your winter months over the past several years, focusing in on differences from how you are currently carrying them out. I'll once again rehearse my show tunes. Done already? My, how you've grown!)

And, that, my lovely interactive reader, is the point. Growth. Not the smelly fungus kind, either; I'm talking evolution, advancement, the acquisition of knowledge, laying the foundation for new ideas and actions and Ramen recipes. Just look at how far you've come!

(Here I provide an opportunity for you to do just that. Finished? Wow, I barely made it through the overture! Nice progress, people. Just imagine where the next year might take you at this rate.)

Thressa Johnson graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends Concordia College in Moorhead.