What a difference a year can make. For the past couple of months, I have spent considerable time reflecting on the things that have affected me over the last twelve months. I’ve made some bad decisions, I’ve lost people I loved, and I’ve gone from someone relevant to a stranger in the eyes of others. Relationships and friendships I thought would stand the test of time are virtually non-existent, and I’ve willingly welcomed the removal of others whose energy and motives weren’t genuine. I’ve learned so much about myself, and people, and some of this I may have observed and commented on before. My top four takeaways this year were:
It truly is okay to put yourself first.
I am notorious for doing too much, of being unable to say no to others. I’ve agreed to things I didn’t feel like doing, gone to events I know I didn’t want to waste my time on, I’ve even literally made myself sick trying to be everything to everyone. In the end, I realized that all of my concessions and compromises benefited few, and hurt no one but myself. My focus for this coming year is to become more comfortable with that nefarious “n” word – no. We get so guilty with the notion of putting ourselves first, because somehow believe it means that we’re neglecting others. As it’s been said before though: you are useless to others if you’re putting your well-being and sanity last.
It’s time to stop looking backwards.
Ah memories. Don’t we all just love them? I feel as if I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time reexamining the past, at the way things were, and trying desperately to revert back, or at least create some semblance of that “comfortable” space (by the way – comfort isn’t necessarily a positive). All of that nostalgia caused me to miss out on the blessings I’m experiencing now. I didn’t allow myself to be fully present. Even when it hurt, I had to come to the realization that things will never be the same. What’s done is done, and the people from my past that have come and gone aren’t supposed to be in my future. While memories are great, I can’t let that wistfulness be a part of where I’m going. My journey is just beginning.
Judgement and expectation are the first steps to disappointment.
What do they say when you assume? That you make an a** out of you and me? Old saying, but still true during these times. People will behave in ways that will make you question how well you really knew them, and have you questioning the authenticity of their character. I foolishly placed unrealistic expectations not just on my friends and family, but also on those who didn’t owe me anything in the least. This idea of expectation is truly something that comes from growth – experience that leads to real wisdom. In the end, the only person you can hold liable for expectations is yourself.
I am stronger than I ever dreamed.
I can recall touting my strength, speaking of my tribulations and feeling very proud of how much I’d accomplished in my life, despite a myriad of obstacles over the years. This year did an amazing job of putting those humble brags to the test. My character was tested, my faith was shaken, but I still managed to rely on not just myself, but primarily my God/Spirit to get me through so much. When you are being attacked from what seems like all angles, it is very easy to place the blame on others, to hate, to become bitter, to be angry – to be weak. The simplest thing I could have done this year was to block myself from feeling and giving love. I’ve come to realize that strength isn’t in how vengeful you can be, but in how loving you can continue to be despite every attempt to essentially annihilate your spirit. Only love can drive out hate, and only a strong person can continue to love when met with negativity. I will continue to love those who consider themselves my enemies, and pray that they will elevate themselves and realize the beauty within their own souls.
I love the start of a new year, because it provides us with the idea that we can start over again and be renewed. Our past isn’t erased, but it also doesn’t define who we are today, or who we will be for the rest of our lives. Take a moment this week to truly reflect on your experiences this year, and promise yourself that no matter what, you will give your all to make the coming year your best yet. Above all, send out love, and you’ll not only receive it, but you will gain knowledge and self-awareness. Be a better version of yourself in 2016, because your story is far from over.