Friday, January 6, 2017

I Still Got Time, I Still Got Faith

Alternate title: Lessons Learned in 2016...and What I Want to Stick in 2017

Okay, fine. I caved. I guess my final thoughts on 2016 were just slow to arrive, but arrive they did. Without dragging you through the analysis of the year that's been forming in my brain for the last couple weeks, here are the highlights:

  • 2016 was the hardest year of my adult life that I can remember. I slipped into a depressive mode, brought on by a never-ending job hunt that seriously demotivated me to do any of the things that make me feel good. I was challenged and thwarted at every turn; it felt like a year full of false starts and little else.
  • 2016 was a hard year for America and the world. People just won't stop killing each other. Politicians won't stop lying. Voters won't get educated. Citizens won't vote. Some people won't stop deluding themselves and playing horrifying mental gymnastics to prove their worldview right, even when the tiniest bit of logical thinking would prove their worldview is a detriment to not only their own lives but society at large.
  • 2016 was the year I needed to have. Despite all the challenges, some wonderful things happened. I've recapped the months by major event for myself; I don't think I'll do it here. There are archives on the sidebar if you NEED to know. It was the year and they were the challenges I needed to gain the perspective required to do better this go-around.
A few months ago, Steph gave me this quote, and I've loved it ever since: "There are years that ask questions, and years that answer. We truly need both because that's what life is." (Sentence one by Zora Neale Hurston, sentence two the wisdom of SMD herself.)

2016 asked a lot of questions. It asked me how I got to where I ended up, what I would have done differently, what I could do to prevent it happening again, what I really want my life to be, who I really want in it, how I can be a better human, how I can be a better companion, how I can be more accepting of what is, how I can do better at the life and hand I'm currently holding.

Here are some of the answers.

1. You cannot get out of a situation using the method of operations that got you into it.
2. I cannot control anything but how I react to situations. (You'd think I would have learned this years ago, but no.)
3. I cannot plan for the major and most important developments of my life.
4. It's not personal. I may choose to take things personally, but that doesn't mean they're about me. Also: stop taking impersonal shit personally, Alyssa.
5. Rest is a good thing, and there doesn't always have to be a justification other than wanting to take a break.
6. Cycles of behavior control most of our lives. Breaking a negative feedback loop has to be a choice, rather than a divine intervention. If you're waiting for the latter, it won't happen. If you screw up your courage, the former can happen. And it's the only thing that will create change.
7. Love is a verb. It is shown. It is an action. It is to be believed only when demonstrated.
8. Wanting to or not wanting to doesn't really matter when it comes to things that need doing. Do what must be done, period.

And maybe, it turns out, I do have a resolution for 2017. I've already set an intention, and I fully intend to live with it each and every day of the next year—and hopefully my life. But my intention has to do with how I'm framing my thoughts; the resolution has to do with my actions.

I've been trying to work on this—my resolution—for a few months now, but it will be really put to the test in 2017. It's something I've never been able to do before, and it actually flies in the face of everything I've ever done when it comes to preparing for my life. It is hard for me. It's not all that measurable. It's not "SMART." It's the very radical shift in thinking that experts warn you not to make when embarking on a new year. But the thing is, the January/February coincide with so much that I cannot control, cannot plan, cannot know in advance. I have to do this. And I hope when I look back at this post a year from now (which I will, as I went hunting last week for a similar post from this time last year, and I came up empty) I will be able to say, based on feelings of happiness and peace and contentment with my follow-through, that I was successful. This is my resolution:

Slow down, take a breath, and make one decision at a time. Deal with one piece of new information at a time. Resist the urge to plan for multiple possible outcomes and combinations of outcomes. Learn the damn lesson and stop planning for the unknown. Enjoy life as it is, because these circumstances are certain not to last.

10 comments:

  1. #8 - TOTALLY agree with this. There are many times that I don't like doing what I have to do but it needs to be done so I just do it. This is also something I'm trying to teach my 8yr old - there are always things that we don't like doing (ie. chores, homework etc) but they serve a purpose that we may not see right now but will later on in life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i was going to list the numbers i agreed with, but i agree with all of them. seriously. all the yes. #1 especially, and #7. and #6. okay, yes, all of them.
    best of luck to you in 2017 girl. hope it's all you need and want and all that jazz.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Whoops! The last sentence of that quote is my thoughts on it! I'm sorry if I said it like it was the whole thing. It's from Their Eyes Were Watching God.

    ANYWAY I believe intentions are so important and so many people gloss over them in terms of more tangible action items. I'm glad to see them both here.

    I think it's really hard to hang on when it's one hit after another in a big sense (not maybe the day to day, but otherwise) but really vital to learn HOW to do that. And unfortunately we only learn how by doing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. #4. YES. I need to work on this so much. I take entirely way too much to heart and I need to work on it. Only I can control my happiness.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really love that quote that Steph sent you. Yes to all of these things, but especially number 2 and 8. I hope all the best for you in 2017!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amen to #3. Up until last year I was a serious planner, if it was a societal norm or needed to be done I had a plan of how I was going to get there and when. Then I spent 9 months being turned down for job after job after job and I've started 2017 with big question mark. Any other year that would have sent me into an anxiety fuelled tail spin, but this year I'm okay. I wish I had a plan, but I don't because I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to be planning. This year is all about baby steps, "The smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take the step." I saw that quote on a canvas the other day and it's been stuck in my head ever since.
    Here's to lots of answers and steps in the right direction in 2017!

    ReplyDelete
  7. YES to #4. Oh my goodness, yes. You had a tough 2016 and I hope 2017 is MILES better for you. I just read "The Happiness Project" and, while I found her mildly annoying, I think some of what she focuses on key into your points. You should check it out! I've found it to be pretty helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love this list (and I'm super proud of you for making this huge change in mindset) but 5, 7, and 8 are my favorites!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow.. I absolutely love that quote. I haven't heard it before and it's now one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. #8 is something that I have been trying to work on, although I hadn't quite articulated it until I read your words. I do a lot of things on a daily basis that make me proud of who I am, but I also do (or don't do) a lot of things that don't make me proud or happy, just because I do (or don't) want to do them. I've definitely been feeling more and more of an urge to just...not be like that anymore. Like, I'm turning 30 years old this year...seems like a reasonable time to stop doing things like letting dishes pile up in the sink (which just ends up making me mad that the house is dirtier than it should be AND that it's going to take me longer to clean it) just because I don't feel like dealing with them. Of course that also applies to bigger things too, and I am all about being nice to myself and doing what feels good, but there is definitely a line! Some things don't need to feel good, they just need to be done.

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear from you. Please make sure your settings let me reply to your comment by email.