Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On 2013

Oh, I know. I could've come up with a better title for this post. But you know what? It's not important.

That's something I learned in 2013. The small details we worry about? They're only worth losing sleep over if they make an impact on your or someone else's life. Of course, everything makes some sort of impact, but the past year has taught me to manage my energies and focus on things that truly matter.

But this post is not about the past. Because while 2013 was full of great moments and lessons learned, the whole point of living is to keep getting better, stronger, happier. And dwelling on past mistakes is not, I have found, the best way to keep you motivated and moving forward. So here are some of my most meaningful accomplishments of 2013, with a new goal for pushing myself further in 2014.

1. "Be gentle with yourself." - Yup, I'm still working on this one. All my health practitioners, friends, family... This is what they repeated to me throughout 2013. When you're dedicated to your work (as I am) and have a tendency towards perfectionism (as I do) and are stubborn about meeting real or self-imposed deadlines (as I am), well... You tend to forget that a healthy, happy life requires balance. Not necessarily in every moment of every day, but overall, balance, or a rhythm of balance, is key to longterm success. And part of that is learning to say "no", which I'm also still working on. So, in 2014, I will endeavour to be gentle with myself in actuality, not just say that I will and then forget to build in "me" recovery time when I'm trying to make everything fit into my schedule.

2. Learn from past mistakes but don't let them bring you down. - Oh, y'all should see my Pinterest boards. There's one called "Life Lessons". Half of those are about finding love. The other half are about making mistakes, learning from them, and not letting others' actions hurt you. In 2013, I finally learned my lesson about friendship. Don't invest into relationships that your counterpart is not investing in. Don't set expectations or make assumptions that your understanding of this friendship is the same as the other person's. Don't let your kindness, love, and thoughtfulness turn you into someone else's puppet. So, in 2014, I will endeavour to make time to pre-assess, assess, and re-assess (that's a teacher joke!) my relationships and voice my concerns early rather than let them build and explode into messy fireworks.

3. Stop doubting yourself and take risks. - This one is about all the new things I tried this year and found I actually enjoyed. Competing in Dancing with the Stars for Easter Seals Kingston. Painting acrylics on canvas for the first time. Writing songs on the guitar, with the intention and the inspiration for the song coming from playing the guitar. Meeting new people, who are now a huge part of my friend-family. Going to new places, because I've always wanted to, and because I could, like re-visiting Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC. Making last minute decisions instead of always planning everything out. A lot of these great moments come from learning to manage my anxiety, so this point is also linked to points 1 and 2. I owe a lot of thanks to my support system, both friends and family and things - yes, things! - because sometimes, you just need to watch your favourite cheesy movie and eat waaaay too much chocolate, and then chips, and cry it all out. And then move on. So, in 2014, I will endeavour to keep taking risks and to stop talking down to myself. Because who is going to stand up for me if I don't even stand up for me? 

4. Just go with the flow. - Surprisingly, while this has always been one of my guiding ideas, it occurred to me this year that I wasn't actually doing this. In moments, yes. In some situations where I found myself confident and comfortable, yes. But overall? HA! You're looking at a perfectionist workaholic planner, here! You think I can just "go with the flow" without thinking it through first? In 2013, I made last minute decisions. I didn't book hotels for my whole trip to the States in advance, and used Hotwire once I figured out, just 2 days beforehand, how I would deal with an unplanned chunk of my trip. That was awesome. That was going with the flow. And it was so rewarding. I also made spur of the moment decisions that go against my usual personality trend. Like deciding to go out after I was already in my PJs, after the time I usually like to get home. Why? Because good friends encouraged me to. And while I like to say they peer pressured me into it, I peer pressured me into it. Why? Because the only way to be comfortable outside of your shell is to actually break out of it. They're baby steps, sure, but it's better than no steps at all. If I can do it while troubleshooting under pressure in my work life or during emergencies, why can't I do it in other situations without triggering a "fight or flight" response? So, in 2014, I will endeavour to just "go with the flow" in unknown situations and try not to freak out or make such a big deal out of it when I do. Everything always works out in the end if you have good intentions. 

5. Love is the answer. - Again, this is something I've always felt. In 2013, I actually found the right words to express it. So, your life sucks. You're broke. Your shower takes forever to heat up, and then gets cold within minutes. So, your friends are actually not your friends (again!) So - and y'all know you feel this way too - 5 friends got engaged, 3 got married, and 2 had babies. Oh, and another one just announced she's pregnant. Oh, and so-and-so got the job of their dreams, and this person from high school you just Facebook stalked is a doctor now?! What?! Yeah. We've all been there. We've all felt that way. (PS: those were fake stats.) It's okay to not be happy all the time. It's okay to be happy for someone yet, oddly, also not. This does not make you a bad person. Love is the answer. Love is always the answer. It's just that sometimes, you have to love yourself more than you love others. Most people, it seems, have the opposite problem: they love themselves more than they love others. For me, 2013 has been about realizing that I've gone too far on that path, and need to come back to me. Put myself before everyone else. Yup, we're back to saying "no" more. But realizing that you're doing it with love, for yourself, and respect, both for you and for the other person you're telling, in advance, that you wouldn't be at your best if you agreed to do yet another thing on that already busy day. Hopefully, that other person is also living with "love is the answer" as their guiding principle and they don't hold it against you. So, in 2014, I will endeavour to trust myself more. To reach into my heart, feel what I feel, allow myself to feel what I feel without prejudice, and let my instinct guide me. Because I know that by holding on to the belief that love is the answer, I can do anything. We can do anything. I can make my little world better, and hopefully inspire someone else to do the same, and this idea, this fundamental truth that love is the only way that it gets better... Hopefully, 2014 will see it spread to those who need it the most.

I don't make New Year's resolutions. First of all, I technically celebrate, like, 4 different new years? So it's hard to know when the "new" year begins and ends. The truth is, it doesn't. There is no clear-cut line in space and time that says, HEY! STOP EVERYTHING. CLEAN SLATE! every time the Earth orbits around the Sun. So this is probably the closest I get to making resolutions. I kinda just make them as I go, as life teaches me new lessons and as the opportunity arrises for more personal and professional development. (This is also why I don't diet, or believe in diets.)

Still, I'm looking forward to seeing what new challenges 2014 brings, and I'm hopeful for new experiences, good and bad, that will help me grow into a better, stronger, and happier person.

Here's to happy continuings! 

PS: Friends don't let friends drink and drive. Or get high and drive. Or drive when fatigued. Be safe out there tonight, friends. Don't take unnecessary risks! Hope y'all have a Happy New Year!