What a time you’ve been.
I sat in the car yesterday with my mom and we were mulling over the past few months – I still can’t believe half the shit I’ve been through this year. It doesn’t feel like only a year ago I was quitting my old job, all I had known post-graduation, and looking to take on fresh opportunities.
I ended last year fully prepared for a fresh start and 2018 did nothing but deliver. Most of my day-to-day life looks nothing like it used to.
I remember a few months back, I went through a period of letting go of the girl I used to be. I wasn’t home every night anymore. I fell out of my meditation practice. I stopped exercising. I let go of most of the activities I used to define myself by.
It was hard to come to terms with initially but as time has gone on, I’m glad those parts of me have subsided. I sat down last night to plan a budget for myself which I loved every second of, but as soon as I started to touch a planner again, the spark wasn’t there.
I no longer envy living the way I used to. I don’t like having set plans for the day. I don’t enjoy early wake up hours or forced morning rituals. I spend less time trying to have it all figured out and more listening to the little feeling in my gut.
Instead of my life revolving around green juice and gurus, it only takes up little pockets of my life.
I still sit down with a new Teal video every Saturday. I still read at night or search for knowledge when that eager-to-learn bug comes up. I stretch or go to the gym if I feel called to move.
That’s the thing about life.
We find ourselves bombarded by everything that ‘needs’ to get done and once all is well, we find ourselves on the next pursuit almost immediately. It’s for this reason that we soak up those moments of being able to watch a show or eat good food so much. It’s a time we get to stop and enjoy something just for the sake of it.
As the years have progressed though, I’ve noticed that even these moments are being taken over.
Some of us can’t sit and enjoy an hour of Netflix without our go-getter side reminding us of everything we ‘should’ be doing instead. We may scarf food down on-the-go without ever really tasting it.
I get it, we all want to feel successful and productive; but the truth of the matter is, if our priorities will never cease to be, how can we never give ourselves a chance to stop?
While life appears to be a path towards a multitude of end goals (good career, marriage, kids) – most of life lies in the moments you’re truly enjoying yourself.
As humans, we’re designed for growth. It’s in our DNA to want to be better, do better. We tell ourselves that if we have no grit or don’t pursue our goals wholeheartedly, we’ll become lazy or lack the motivation to continue.
While my own life has turned more in to little moments than a daily hustle, the part of me that wants to succeed never died. It’s in us, I promise you. You don’t need to run yourself dry to get to where you want to be. You see, once you’re there, your mind will always create a next step to pursue.
With that in mind, take a look at where you’ve been over the past year.
Have you been living in constant pursuit of the next high?
Have you folded and let life bring what it will?
If you feel resistant to one approach or the other, why do you feel that is?
I know our attitudes about life can’t be broken down 50/50, but we tend to feel bias towards one path or another.
I used to believe if I didn’t live my life in perfect accordance with ‘health’, that everything would go to shit. I needed to rise early, eat clean, meditate daily, and be the epitome of a self-care guru. Once I saw that no matter how much I ‘perfected’ my life, I was still miserable, that’s when the revelation hit – there’s no point in a daily grind that doesn’t leave you feeling any more full.
2018 became the year I practiced mindfulness authentically – no longer aesthetically.
Instead of acting based on my future, I did what felt right in the present moment.
Did this lead to some hard and sometimes heart-breaking lessons? Absolutely.
I spent many nights in self-pity and shame over actions I wished I had thought through better. It sucks when you see in retrospect how easily some problems could have been avoided. Thing is though, I acted because I thought it was right at the time. I didn’t know how one little action here or there would shape my life for months to come. It’s only when we act that we get the ball rolling at all. If we wait to play life safe, we live in a sense of anxiety over what could go wrong rather than taking a chance and seeing what happens.
It’s for that very reason that I don’t regret a damn thing that happened this year.
I fell in to some terrible relationship patterns, but I know about my codependency habits more than I ever have.
I started to numb out my emotions with substances yet without those induced states, I wouldn’t have reached some of my deeper revelations.
I abandoned any writing goals I had this year and now, I’m glad I didn’t force myself to fit in to a box for the sake of success.
When we’re in the middle of a struggle, finding the silver lining is painful as hell. We can’t force ourselves to have a positive mindset when we aren’t ready for it.
I spent months with someone who completely flipped my world upside down. I learned new coping mechanisms from him. I learned to quiet a lot of my personality because there was only room for one of us. I put all of my own interests aside for the sake of being there for him.
Once he left, I quickly became involved with a close friend. I initially brushed him off because he was a good guy and I had commitment phobia. As time passed, neither of us could really get on the same page due to a mix of our own needs. I beat myself up a lot for that one because I felt I ruined the friendship – which now, I’m happy to say wasn’t the case.
I can look at my pain from an outside perspective now, but in the moment, I had no idea how to deal with it – hence the substances, the lack of creative motivation.
I found myself escaping my reality a lot of the time because I didn’t know how to face it or where to begin. Coming home to chug wine or ordering shots at the bar felt safer than looking for solutions.
Truth be told, I thought those distorted views were where the solutions were held. I thought if I could distance myself enough from my problems, I could find a new approach – an approach that a sober mind could never reach.
I see now that no matter how much you drink or smoke, you’re still left with yourself in the morning. I don’t regret those nights I drowned myself in liquor or looked to escape, but I wouldn’t wish them on myself again. Looking to things outside of yourself for inner healing is only possible when you approach those substances with a clear state of mind.
It took a full year, but December has already proven to be a turning point for me. I feel like myself again.
The best part is that ‘myself’ doesn’t mean who I was or an ideal I was hoping to reach – it means being at peace with who I am right now. Whether it be the daily choices I make or the future endeavors I work towards, it all feel synonymous.
I’ve let go of a lot of deep breaths this month and I’m curious to see where 2019 leads me.
A year ago, I had no clue to what to expect and here I am now, in places that changed me and I couldn’t be more grateful for every little twist and turn this year held.
With the new year, I feel a little more grounded. I have bigger sights and yet, less of a plan than ever.
I see myself saying yes more, becoming more aware of my boundaries, and overall, taking chances for the hell of it. It’s impossible to fully embody who you are in this world without participating in the magic.
I’m sure I’ll look back down the line in awe of how oblivious I was for what’s to come.
That’s the thing – we can never know for sure what the future holds.
Our plans and desires follow us, but in the end, all that matters is the experiences that happened along the way.
Treasure them as they come and I promise you, life will never feel the same again.