Happy 2019, everyone! It still doesn't sound like a real year to me, but I'm sure I'll come around to it after a while.
Have you made any resolutions yet?
We hear "new year, new me" every single January, and it's hard not to get swept up in that bright, shiny, new feeling. Naturally we feel like we're getting a chance to start fresh, and so we make these grand plans to transform into our best selves. With one caveat...we seem to expect it to happen overnight. Isn't there some statistic about how most fitness resolutions are abandoned by February? How many beautiful, loudly proclaimed resolutions are left behind just a few weeks after the new year begins?
Don't get me wrong, I'm undeniably guilty of this. I can't tell you how many things I've started without finishing...I'm a chronic project starter. One year, it was my "happiness corner" (a giant makeshift desk stocked with Play-Doh, coloring books, crafting materials, you name it). I wanted to create a place I could retreat to a rough day and have some real, childlike fun.
Don't get me wrong, I loved all of those things. And for a while, I really enjoyed my happiness corner. But it was just that. From work to home to everything in between, I had only provided myself a single corner for happiness. It was like I was using washi tape as a band-aid for the real problem: I was deeply unhappy with my life. I wanted a place I could escape to, to avoid the issues that were plaguing me. And instead of gripping the problems and pulling them up to see the roots, I was decorating the space around them.
So after a little time passed, my precious happiness corner sat...in a corner. Bright patterned bins filled with stickers and journals collected dust instead of memories. Clay that was once soft and malleable grew hard and unforgiving. The solid, wooden desk top that I once refused to go near with food or drink became littered with water rings and scrapes from plates. My happiness corner was no longer sacred, because I didn't view my own happiness as sacred. So after a while, I found the real solution.
I truly listened to myself.
The thing no one tells you about listening to yourself is that it might prompt you to make some pretty drastic changes. Once you hear what's going on inside, you can't ignore it any longer.
I left a job behind that came dangerously close to burning me out; I was perpetually sick, and the Sunday scaries had turned...well...scary. I refused to put myself through that for a single day more. I could find another job, but I couldn't find another body, and my body suddenly seemed like something worth protecting.
I left a city behind that had served its purpose, because I had overstayed my welcome. I enjoyed my time in college, but in that city of bright lights and loud music I could feel my identity slipping away. I still loved Nashville, but I was no longer meant to live there, and I had to come to terms with that.
Eventually, I left my self-doubt behind. This one took the longest; it had been a poisonous presence in my heart and mind for years, and I could feel the dull ache intensifying in my gut every single day...until I stopped pretending it wasn't there. I stopped avoiding situations merely because I couldn't control them, or that they were difficult, and I began to take chances on myself. And I'll tell you one thing: that first look at yourself once that miasma of self-hate has evaporated makes every bit of blood, sweat and tears worth it.
I do have a point, I promise. I used to make a lot of New Year's resolutions. They were usually to the tune of "do yoga every day" or "read at least one book every month." Those are still admirable goals. But I don't use them to cover up the real bad stuff anymore. Learning to do crow pose won't help me if I come home crying from work every day. Picking up the latest bestseller won't truly transport me if I'm longing to be anywhere else but here.
So if you make just one resolution, consider this one: "I will listen to, and trust, myself, because I am worth the effort."
Don't limit yourself to a corner for happiness this year. Fill up your entire life.