|feel free to roll your eyes at a typical end of the year post. i even rolled them at myself.|
The end of the year is oftentimes a period of reflection for many of us. What did we accomplish this year? How has life changed? How have we changed? And many of us it seems end up thinking that next year will be our year…that things will suddenly be better next year, that the world will finally bestow upon us the year we think we’re entitled to have…
Every annual turn of the Earth around the Sun is really what we make of it. The world doesn’t bestow anything upon us; luck is bullshit. I’m not going to feed you those same tired lines that if we just work hard enough, we’ll be successful and get all the material possessions that corporate America wants us to have… I don’t buy that insanity for a single minute. This system isn’t designed to reward hard work. It’s designed to reward being born into money and making the right connections which isn’t exactly based on luck, per say, either. Regardless, material wealth is only one definition of success, and it’s not synonymous with my own definition.
Individual growth, resolving inner conflict, working on our flaws, becoming better people, altruistic acts, compassion, empathy, a solid sense of humor, continuous learning for the sake of learning…these are true qualities for measuring success. Money and material possessions might buy fleeting happiness that could seem like success if examined in a certain light, but at the end of the day (or at least once the newness of whatever earnings or possession wears off), you’re not left with much. The real measure of success should be in how far you come as a human being not what you own or are capable of owning. After all, we get one shot at this and if your only legacy is being a rich asshole, I don’t think you’re accomplishing all that much. That’s not to say that personal growth and material wealth are mutually exclusive, but if you have the wealth without the growth, you have nothing at all.
With that in mind, my reflection for the year is all about personal growth considering I never really have personal monetary or material wealth. (ha).
I learned a lot about friendship this year. I lost over several months one of my longest running current friendships. This friendship in particular helped me learn a lot about myself over the 7 years that it existed, and this year was no different. In the past, I learned a lot about who I was and what I wanted to be, but it was the opposite this year—I learned how much a person can change, how much I could deny what was in front of my face in the name of friendship, and what I was and wasn’t willing to put up with in my life. In the end, I learned that a friendship where one person is continuously not willing to give (all social relationships should be give and take), it’s no longer worth it no matter the circumstances of that relationship, no matter how positive it had been in the past. Everything changes, sometimes not for the best. This was one of those times. I’ve made my peace with it and actually think I’m better off for letting go of the negativity that I held onto out of some misguided loyalty to a person who no longer appreciated it. A weight has been lifted.
In return, I’ve gained more than enough friendships to make up for it. Some of those friendships have formed solely through online interaction and others through letters. Regardless, I’ve learned more about the kind of people I want to surround myself with and how important certain qualities are in the friendships that I keep. I’ve found people that I can’t imagine living without and wonder how I ever existed without them in the first place which is one of the most rewarding experiences—to meet someone who constantly pushes you and challenges you but who is also just there to be goofy with and laugh with.
I learned a lot about self-examination and acceptance this year. I’ve never had a lot of self confidence when it comes to the way I look (despite the myriad of selfies you’ll find on my various social media accounts…). I struggle with it all the time left over from a lot of criticism as a child from a parent and grandparents who were overly judgmental about my physical appearance coupled with the crippling self doubts that women often face when comparing themselves to media ideals. I have this nagging Negative Nancy voice that constantly plagues every interaction I have and every day of my life. But, I’ve learned to shut that voice up. Sometimes it takes a swift kick to her box which I admit may be a cheap shot, but whatever works, right? Instead of constantly doubting compliments and blaming myself for things I have no control over and that really have nothing to do with me, I’ve learned to be more rational and to stop the worrying and the self-flagellation when things aren’t easy. Sometimes shit happens. I’m learning that better than ever. This year has made major improvements on that.
I’ve also learned that yoga pants are awesome, and my ass looks great in them. And that it’s okay for me to admit when I have a nice attribute or do something well. The world won’t shatter into a million pieces if I attribute something good to myself.
I still haven’t learned, however, how to best manage my introversion and my child’s extroversion without becoming completely overstimulated and stressed and overwhelmed. One day maybe? It’s a work in progress especially with him being homeschooled and me getting no breaks, but in the end, we’ll figure out a system that works. For now, it’s trial and error, and I have to be okay with that. I love him. He loves me. We laugh together and hang out. It doesn’t make me a bad Mom even though I have that thought every now and then when I try to sleep at night. We’re okay. And that’s okay. Eventually we’ll get to a harmonious place where things are a little easier. Or maybe we won’t. As long as we continue to show each other love and smooth and both work on it, we can’t go wrong.
I’ve learned better time management. I’ve stopped procrastinating and work on things before they even need to be done. This is a first for me, and I have to say I’m so fucking proud of this one. I’m terrible about leaving things until just before they’re due, but I’m getting better with it, and it’s an improvement that really helps with stress levels except for the fact that I don’t apply that to paying bills. I either wait until the day of or a few days into the grace period. It’s stupid of me and usually means late fees which is something I plan on working on this coming year. Baby steps, right?
All in all, this year had some negatives and some losses, but it was a big year for personal growth and for making a difference in the lives of others. If you’re not learning, growing, and changing, then what’s the point of life, anyway? No matter what your religious belief, surely there must be some sort of lesson in living beyond an afterlife…. Being nonreligious myself, life is the lesson, and it’s years like this one that truly prove to me what living is all about. Here’s to another year of lessons in 2015…