As time and winter quickly ushered us into another new year, I found myself looking at the past harshly. 2017 wasn’t a year that changed my life. Few things came to fruition. And the word that kept coming to mind was jaded.
To put it bluntly, I am not proud of who I am.
I am not proud of how I allowed last year to shape and harden me rather than develop more compassion and soul connections. I have sat in my misery—through new year’s eve celebrations, in fact—and conjured up as many goals and life plans as possible to make this next year a far more successful one.
We are a week into the new year, and nothing has changed. As I’ve said before, there’s nothing magical about a new year. We give so much power to January 1st, but I certainly still feel like the same girl I was on the final day of December.
A week in, and nothing has changed—except bits of my perspective. I asked myself to find the good parts about last year, rather than focusing on the negative connotation the word jaded brings. What happened that was surprising? What did I learn? Who did I meet and befriend, even if it looked entirely different than I imagined?
These three lessons immediately came to mind.
1. Be kind to the new kid.
A few months ago, I listened to a podcast about how to make friends as an adult (yes, seriously. Making friends can be hard and scary and lonely). The two women explained how there is always a little new girl (or boy) inside of us. How no matter where we are in life, transition and change and newness are inevitable.
And this idea brought so much grace and peace into my apartment of one.
I was—and I am—so tired of being the new person, of having to initiate and introduce myself yet again. I was ashamed of how insecure and nervous I felt, so similar to how I felt as the shy new girl growing up. But honestly, that little girl will always be a part of me. And she deserves nothing but kindness and acceptance. If that’s how I treated a new kid at recess, then why should I not be gracious to her even now, at 26 years old?
Be kind to yourself. You’re the only you you’ve got.
2. We have lived so many different lifetimes. It’s ok to forget or move on or start over, and it’s ok to become a new person.
I have carried immense guilt the past five years due to all the vast experiences and places and people that have come in and out of my life. I have forgotten many people ever existed, or the names of towns I lived in on the other side of the world. I look back at who I was at, say, 21 years old, and wish I hadn’t let go of certain parts of her.
Then this concept jumped into my life. Of course! Of course I will forget and grow and move on. And of course I’ll wish for certain parts of last year back. I have lived so many different lifetimes up until this point, it’s impossible to remember and maintain it all. And while it’s sad that our memory fails us, I find it freeing, too. This jaded person I am today—though it feels like it—won’t be who I am forever. It’s almost as if this is just another lifetime, preparing me for the next (whatever that may be).
3. Doing the best you can sometimes looks like doing nothing at all. In essence, give yourself grace.
Ah, grace. It pops up daily. Hourly? Yes, probably even hourly. Mostly because I’m so terrible at it, extending grace to myself. See, I have these expectations—and I’m sure you do too, because you’re a human—that I heap upon myself. Expectations like go to the gym every day or never eat sugar or write the stupid book that’s been on my to-do list for over two years. And when those things don’t happen, I turn inward and criticize shamelessly. I’m not alone here, am I?
The past few months have been utterly exhausting for me. It’s winter and dark and I work a lot. I don’t have the energy to exercise every day. I don’t have the capacity to sit down and write consistently. So I restructured a few things in my expectations; I made them realistic. Now my goal is to make it to the gym just once a week. My goal is to write once a week—anything, from a journal entry to this blog post to fill in the blank. And right now, that’s the best I can do.
Sometimes doing the best you can looks like doing nothing at all. Our culture doesn’t believe in that, but look at how burnt out we are as a whole.
I think it’s safe to say doing nothing every once in a while, in order to give yourself grace, is far healthier than committing to yet another thing just because it’s January 1st.
Today and onward, I’m choosing to look past the jaded shards in my soul and recall the goodness and lessons of last year. Those are the things that truly propel us forward anyway. That and hope.
Ironically, one of my top photos on Instagram last year had to do with hope. At the time I may have written it for you, but perhaps I wrote it for me too, to remember in the lower times of life (like today).
2017 didn’t change my life. Maybe it didn’t change yours either. Doesn’t mean you’re not where you’re supposed to be, or that you’re doing everything wrong and not learning a thing in the process. Listen to that little voice of hope. Let it keep speaking up.
And when you can’t, come back here and try again. I have a feeling we’ll cross paths a few times this year.