Monday, January 5, 2015

And the word of the year is....


The new year is upon us. 2015--it's hard to believe. I've decided that this year, instead of making resolutions that I'm unlikely to follow through with, I'm going to give the year a theme and build on it. My theme for 2015 is to be content.

2014 was a very trying, exhausting, saddening year for me. I won't go into details but I will say I fought my own demons, faced trials in my marriage and family, and was met with some very big changes. I found myself feeling more hopeless and worthless than I had in a very long time. My anxiety and depression reached an all-time high and it seemed that trouble awaited around every corner. 2014 was just a culmination of so many years of things working their way into my life and my heart--negativity, frustration, disappointment.
I looked back on my life, namely on my adulthood, and realized that two emotions were prevalent: fear and guilt.
I have allowed these two emotions to control so much of my life and it's time that I regain control.

Despite the trials we faced this year, my little family came out of it with our heads above water and we're working to make ourselves even stronger than before.

I want this next year to be filled with love, laughter, and progress. I want this year to be filled with contentment.
Some people confuse contentment with complacency. That's not the case. You can be content with the goals you have set for yourself but achieving them still takes work. It's not always going to be a "sit back, relax, and take it all in" type of feeling. But, one thing that I know for sure--I want it to be a happy feeling.

I have so many things in my life to be happy about. So many. And yet, I've realized that I've not been experiencing all the happiness I can. I haven't allowed myself to. Some of that has been due to my anxiety and depression--which I'm working on--but some of it comes from insecurity and those two pesky emotions I talked about before: fear and guilt.

Fear of being rejected.
Fear of being abandoned.
Fear of not being worthy.
Fear of others' perceptions of me.
Guilt about not "adding up".
Guilt surrounding not being the best wife, the best mother, the best daughter, the best friend.
Guilt about wanting something for myself that others may not approve of.
Guilt about doing things differently; being myself.

I've spent many years of my life so worried about what other people think, what society says I should be doing, and what I might be messing up, that I've not allowed myself to truly enjoy the blessings I have in my life. And for that, I'm sorry. Because those of you who have been a blessing in my life deserve to be truly, fully appreciated.
How often do we let others dictate how we feel, what we do? How often do we follow through with something, knowing it will bring us no joy, simply because we feel constrained, obligated, or forced?
I'm not saying we should be totally selfish. We shouldn't ignore the needs of others. We shouldn't be so self-absorbed that we don't notice when someone could benefit from our time, our words, and our presence. But, we shouldn't be forced to tolerate negativity because we feel it's "just the way life goes."

I'm talking about allowing others opinions to influence your choice of career, how many kids you have, when you make big life decisions, who you marry, or what religion you practice. I'm talking about "going through the motions" every day because you feel you owe it to your family or your peers. I'm talking about beating yourself up with each mistake. I'm talking about setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and others and being torn apart when they aren't met. I'm talking about the constant feeling of competition--someone is always prettier, always a better mom, always smarter, always more advanced in their field, always richer. I'm talking about drudging through life doing everything you feel you have to do without stopping to think about what you want to do.

In 2015, I want to rid myself of all of that. If nothing more, I want to begin to make a more positive impact in my own life.

I just recently graduated college and you know the first thing I thought? "Well, now I have to go get a job in my field, I guess."
No true, genuine excitement. Now that it's here, and it's real, I wonder if this is even what I want to do with my life. I've always been smart. I had big dreams of double majors in psychology and poli sci. I wanted to run for Congress some day. I went straight into college, because that's what you do. But then, I got married and I had kids. And I realized life is much more than checking boxes off of some giant "must-do" list. My loved ones are my passion. Singing makes me happy. Writing fulfills me. And I honestly don't even really care for politics anymore. I realized that shortly into my college career, so I went with Psychology and then back to school for Substance Abuse Counseling. Substance abuse hits close to home for me and I love helping people so I could see this being something I enjoyed doing. But is it my passion? No. And now here I am...several years later. I've put what truly makes me happy on the back-burner to do something more tangible, something that will make me some money, a "real" career. I've got two college degrees, a whole lot of debt, and a commitment to something I'm not sure will ever make me feel fulfilled.
Why have I not tried to make anything of my writing? Fear. There it is again. Fear that I'd fail. Fear that I'd waste my time and then when I realized I couldn't make it, I'd have to scramble to find a "real career". Fear that people would look down on me. "Oh you're just a mom and an aspiring author?" I can just hear the contempt.

2015 is about being content. Content in my choices. Content in my abilities. Content in my discernment. Content in my love, in my relationships, in my own worth.
2015 is about not letting anything get in the way of my self-confidence. It's about being an awesome wife and an awesome mom and an awesome family member and friend---not based on certain accomplishments or comparisons but just because I am awesome. At least, my husband and kids and family and friends think so. And I'm going to stop trying to convince them otherwise.

2015 is not about fear, it's not about guilt, and it's not about proving something to everyone. There aren't resolutions to lose X pounds, to get a job paying X salary, to do X amount of new things. Sure, all those things would be wonderful. All those things can be goals. But if I set them, I want to be the dictator of what those mean for me. I'm freeing myself from doing things based solely on the idea of negative repercussions if I don't do them,

2015 is my year. I can feel it. I won't stand for it being anything other than mine. I have amazing people in my life, big dreams, talents, and a heart full of love. I won't squander those things anymore based on guilt and fear. I will be myself, I will own it. I will be content. 
And I invite you to do the same.

Happy New Year!

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