Here We Go Again

We’ve all heard the endless grumblings about New Year’s resolutions, the seemingly universal truths that people subscribe to every year at the end of December. From the belief that resolutions are useless because people won’t actually make a commitment, to the insistence that resolutions can be made at any point and shouldn’t be limited to the beginning of January, there are strong opinions on both sides. Given the dismissive nature that surrounds this time of year, people are often surprised to find out that New Year’s is my favorite holiday.

The truth is, I can very easily understand the tendency to reject celebrating an arbitrary beginning. Making a resolution just for the sake having something to write down in your new planner doesn’t seem worthwhile to me, and I’ve certainly set resolutions for myself in the middle of July because I needed a new goal to work toward. But even with these caveats, I really love this holiday. Because we’re all suddenly reflecting. Contemplating. Paying attention to ourselves in a way we don’t often allow.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the reminiscence of New Year’s, from the news stories that round up the most popular moments of the year, to the “memories” that pop up on Facebook compiling our posts that got the most attention. Being forced to reflect is almost inevitable, which makes it somewhat daunting. All of a sudden, along with the positive memories, we’re being reminded of the difficult times we have endured, moments we’ve spent a lot of time and energy working through or recovering from. No matter how much we would rather not relive these memories, I’ll argue that they are just as important as the positive ones. (I know that sounds like a load of garbage you would find stitched on a pillow, but stick with me.)

When we’re setting our intentions for the new year, it’s easy to resort to self-deprecation. We tell ourselves we’re going to eat better, exercise more, or dedicate more time to finishing a project. There are silent but powerful expectations that we have attached to these intentions. Punishments, even. You want to eat better, insinuating you haven’t been doing a good enough job. You want to exercise more, as if there’s been a dial that you’ve set too low and it’s time to crank it up. Honestly, I think we should be giving ourselves a little more credit. Remember all of those difficult memories you were reflecting on, and how you got through it all? Let’s celebrate that! You’ve made so many strides in the past year, more than you give yourself credit for. You’ve gotten through every single setback 2018 has thrown at you, so why not take that energy and use it as motivation for whatever waits for us in 2019?

2018 has been quite the ride for me. In fact, the past few years have been some of the most formative I’ve ever experienced in terms of self-discovery and exploration. And I’m certainly not done. But rather than set up a curated plan for how this extended period of discovery and exploration is going to play out, I’m keeping myself open to possibilities. This year, my resolution is to take things one day at a time. Again, we can go ahead and print that message on a pillow or trendy print to hang in your room, but that’s okay with me. I’m gonna lean into it.

Here’s the deal, pals. I obviously haven’t been writing blog posts as often as I used to, but I’m not going to make some big announcement about retiring from this platform. I’m also not promising to post more consistently in the upcoming year. I’m simply going to continue exploring different outlets. That’s what this blog started out as and that’s what it will continue to be: an outlet. Instead of taking the time right now to figure out which outlets I like best and how to better use them, I’ll be heading into 2019 with the intention of allowing myself to figure things out along the way. I’m excited to see where that leads.

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23 Things About Being 23

Happy Birthday to me!

I often find that reflecting when my birthday comes around is just as cathartic as the new year, so of course I’d love to share it with y’all. I made a list of things that I’ve either learned, accomplished, or experienced as a 23-year old, as well as what some of my related ambitions are for the upcoming year. There are so many folks who dwell on their age, and get too concerned with what is supposed to be associated with that number and how and when those things are going to happen. But for me, every year has presented itself with new challenges and triumphs, and regardless of how old you are, there’s always room to learn more. Plus, I’m actually still a child in the grand scheme of things, so I’m looking forward to all of the years I still have to learn even more. So here we go: 23 things about being 23.

  1. You’re constantly inspired by people who are younger than you. Work as closely with them as you can. Whether that’s as a mentor, as an ally, or an involved activist, their vision of the future is certain to give you hope. Stay inspired, listen, and help however you can.
  2. You realize you need to start balancing your love/hate relationship with social media. You’ve done a great job learning to put the phone down and spend less time refreshing the same apps over and over again. Let’s keep doing that and really consider where you want to focus your energy and attention.
  3. There’s a family health scare that forces you to regroup in a lot of ways. It helps you further understand just how far you’ve come in the past few years, and that’s good. But it also gets you thinking about how nothing is permanent, which isn’t as good in the moment, but you’ll keep growing from it.
  4. You tried to start writing another book. It didn’t go well. You gave yourself a challenge to write the roughest draft possible in the month of November and it wasn’t right for you. When you’re ready, and in your own time, take a look at those pages you did manage to write and see what it inspires you to do next. Just make sure you keep writing.
  5. You turn into an actual grandma with back and hip pain. This means you can’t run, so you need to find other outlets for stress relief. It’s really, really difficult, because there are so few things that satisfy you the way running does. Still navigating this one. Stay tuned.
  6. You’re very aware when you’re the only queer person in a room. This isn’t going to go away, probably ever, but there’s definitely steps you can take to make it happen less often. Continue looking for your queer spaces.
  7. Bullet journaling has changed your life.
  8. You’re very confident in the fact that you don’t miss college like everyone said you would.
  9. You also don’t like drinking alcohol like everyone said you would. And that’s okay. It’s another part of who you are that you shouldn’t feel pressured to change.
  10. You accept that you have very strong Ravenclaw tendencies. You’re still very much a loud and proud Hufflepuff, it’s just that now you have a better understanding of what it means to have a little bit of all the house values inside you, and you’re figuring out which ones you treasure the most. But also…go badgers.
  11. You leave the East coast for the very first time. The West coast isn’t exactly your jam, but you get excited to visit again, and hope to visit even more places you’ve never been. Maybe you’ll even get to leave the country.
  12. You fall even more in love with New York, and learn that it’s going to take a lot for you to leave.
  13. Self care is more important now than it’s ever been. You’ve got a great new mantra: Resist. Recharge. Repeat. There are times when it feels impossible to get back up after getting knocked down. But you have gotten up. Every. Single. Time. Pay attention to your successes, because the fight is far from over. Don’t push yourself, but make sure you’re not standing still for too long.
  14. You meet a number of people who inspire you. For so long you’ve clung to the “don’t meet your heroes” mentality, and you’re starting to let that go in the communities you feel safest. You’ve got some great heroes. They love you. Really, they told you so. That’s pretty cool.
  15. Being an adult with an adult job suits you well. You are discovering what your strengths are, what you’re most passionate about, and you’re doing all you can to keep busy and fulfilled. If you want to keep doing all the things, that’s great. If not, that’s great, too. Either way, you’ve got plenty of time.
  16. Meditation is one of the most crucial tools you’ve collected in your life, and you get your 8th tattoo to keep yourself in check. In check with self love, self care, remaining present, working hard, and spreading kindness.
  17. You participate in your first ever protest. It’s scary and thrilling and empowering. You’re inspired to keep discovering new ways to make a dent. Don’t worry about its size – focus on its impact.
  18. You have to adjust your medication for the first time since you’ve started taking it. It’s still something you’re working on. And you’ll likely be working on it for a really long time, so try your best to be patient.
  19. You see Hedwig for the 8th and final time. It’s still your favorite show.
  20. You go to a nutritionist to figure out why you’re so damn hungry all the time. Surprise! You gotta eat more veggies. You’re never going to be the healthiest eater, but you’re becoming more mindful. And you’re still hungry. Another work in progress.
  21. You went on a first date. Not a second. And you’d really like there to be a second at some point. Sooner rather than later.
  22. You’ve started sharing more of your writing with the world and it’s definitely something you want to do more. Turns out, finding a literary agent and getting your book published isn’t the only way to do that. (But that would be really cool, too.)
  23. Resolutions are out. Intentions are in. You write them down and hang them on your wall and doodle about them in your bullet journal and remind yourself every day that you’re working with something, not for something.

Thanks to those who have joined me on my journey so far. I’m excited to see where this upcoming year takes us!

Be Impressive

It’s the second week of February. How are those New Year’s resolutions going?

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions. I know I’m not alone in the belief that you can make a change in your life any time during the year, but I do recognize that there is a heightened motivation to do so when you have a “fresh start” in January, so this year I decided to give it a try. My three resolutions include: starting a blog (and consistently updating it), eventually be able to run 5 miles, and finish the book I am writing. So far so good… but then again, it’s only been five weeks.

I often think about the many pros and cons of making New Year’s resolutions… as I tend to do in most situations, considering my specialty in life is being a Master of Over Analysis. Something I love about resolutions is the ability to work toward a goal. Especially if you have them written down (which of course I do- my second speciality in life is being a Master of Writing Lists). As most of you know from, you know, life, working toward a goal is motivating, inspiring, and gives you a plan of action for the times you’re scrambling for some order. Accomplishing new things and making strides toward a goal is extremely rewarding. For example, I’ll take a second to brag about the THREE AND A HALF MILES I ran yesterday!!!! I am so happy about it. But of course, this can potentially lead to all of things I hate about resolutions…

Expectations. Unrealistic deadlines. Disappointment.

Here’s another example for you. One of my resolutions for 2015 was to finish the book I’m writing. Sound familiar? As you can probably guess from the recycled goal, I did not achieve this last year. Once December rolled around and I realized I still needed to write several chapters to wrap up my story and basically zero time to do it on top of final exams, I was pretty bummed. I started 2015 with the confidence that I could finish the project I had been working on for so long, only to come to the conclusion that a year later, I hadn’t made the progress I had expected to make. Sure, I made some minor edits. Wrote some new chapters. But as I sit right now in the second week of February writing this blog post, I am still nowhere near the end of my book. And to be completely honest, I’m pretty mad about it.

So does this mean I failed? Technically, yes. I failed at finishing my book within the arbitrary time limit I gave myself. But does recycling an old resolution technically count if it was something I set out to do last year? I’m gonna go ahead and say yes.

Like I mentioned before, setting out to do something new or trying to achieve a new goal isn’t something that needs to begin the first day of January. It’s not something that needs to happen the second week of February. While guidelines definitely give you some motivation, I also think they have the potential to add unnecessary pressure to what I’m sure is already a stressful time for anyone. A start to the new year probably also means you just spent a ton of money on Christmas presents, or maybe you’re mad at the world because it won’t stop snowing. (If you know me at all these are both real life scenarios I can personally attest to). Why give yourself the added pressure of doing something for the sake of saying “I completed my New Year’s resolution!” And as someone who loves nothing more than crossing things off lists, this was a frustrating conclusion for me to come to terms with.

I don’t think the concept of resolutions are completely arbitrary, but I do think we need to shift our thinking about them.

(Wait… a blog post where I try to get you to shift your thinking about something? HOW SHOCKING!!!!!)

One way I have started to change my thinking about resolutions is rather than seeing them as solid, concrete goals, I’ve given myself the freedom to let them change. At first I told myself I was going to update my blog every Monday. So far so good, but I expect to be upset in the upcoming weeks if I miss this deadline, even if I have good reasons, like I was too busy with schoolwork or I needed to pet my dog. Instead, I can say that I gave it a try and change my goal just slightly. Maybe I will update every 2 weeks instead. Maybe I’ll take some time to focus on a different resolution. Because when it comes down to it, you’re trying something new, and I think that’s worth celebrating.

Don’t get me wrong, I know pressure is sometimes a good thing. Pressure and fear and stress all motivate action. But just like vegetables, pressure is only good in moderation. (Yes, vegetables. Who really wants to eat them AM I RIGHT????)

So I wish all of you luck on the resolutions you made last month. If you’ve already decided it’s not going to happen, take some time to make some new goals and maybe start again tomorrow. Or in March. Or in the summer. Because let’s be real, we’ll all have more motivation to go to the gym when all the snow is gone and you don’t have to wear a jacket.