Year in Review
On my birthday and New Years this year I wanted to reflect on the change and growth I’ve had in the last year, there has been a lot.
In December of last year I had someone tell me to dream. He told me to try fantasizing about anything I wanted, and to mentally explore what I may want to do with my time. When I did that for a few weeks, the answer of what I needed to do became quite easy. Spoiler alert, it involved me moving, for maybe the 30th time in my life.
I’ve had an ex accuse me of running away from myself because I move so often. I’ve heard for years every time I move or travel, that I’m running away from my problems. People will remind me, as if I don’t know, that my problems will still be there wherever I end up. I’ve never been naive to the fact that my problems needed to be dealt with. I’ve also been acutely aware that for a period of time, moving and creating new environments shifted my focus from unpleasant problems to fun ones. It was what I needed at the time. Maybe I wasn’t ready to confront some unpleasant baggage I was carrying around. Maybe I just prefer to fill the short time we all have on this earth with the best experiences I could create for myself. Whatever the reason, I did it, I made choices, I followed through, and yes, eventually the shit pile I didn’t want to face, came towards me like a ball of fire. Which is why I am where I am today, having dealt with my shit in a healthy way. The reason I know it was healthy, is because I’ve had a shit ton of fun I wouldn’t have ever had if I stayed in one place. I’ve lost thousands from moving. I’ve had heartbreaking ends of relationships. I’ve relied on others to get me back and forth to different countries and cities, namely my parents, and that would be the only thing I don’t feel comfortable with, but they still tell me they love me so there’s that.
For years I had been struggling with the monotony of regular life, and I would say “I think I need to be a gypsy”. Some people would tell me that wasn’t realistic, and I believed them. What I needed all along was to follow my own heart, my own dreams, instead of being consumed with following in line with what people suggested would make me happy.
These are some of the things I’ve learned since making some big life changes.
I learned that it’s ok not to feel ok. Last year I felt there was something wrong with me every time I felt down. I was in the midst of a shift and so I was struggling emotionally. I fought against this a lot. I was told I may have a mental illness, that maybe I should seek specialized treatment, that I should quit my job and “get better”. In my case I felt this was bullshit. When there’s a problem people want it to be fixed, immediately, or to label it. I don’t like labels as I don’t think they serve the individual much purpose other than perhaps stigma. Sometimes a struggle is ok. I don’t think the struggle I went through last year would’ve been nearly as bad if I had accepted it from the beginning. After awhile I enjoyed allowing myself to sit with my feelings, regardless of how much I resisted at first, and how painful it felt. Once I confronted some of the issues I hadn’t addressed in my life, I realized it wasn’t as scary feeling those uncomfortable feelings as it was to avoid them. Struggles mean change, and change is growth.
I’ve learned to really love spending time with myself. This wasn’t always easy, and I still enjoy the company of others more often than not, but I really love my alone time. I have interests and passions that I love and while I love to share my passions with others, I also love how much I love things like writing, travelling, and listening to music, and I can truly enjoy these things with myself. I’m pretty good company, and I’m glad I’m at that place of knowing it. I also learned that people that kept telling me that I needed to be alone to love myself, weren’t necessarily aware of what I needed at that time. While I wasn’t feeling emotionally well, I needed the company of others to feel connected, and that was ok. Sometimes when you’re emotionally fragile because your energy is focused elsewhere, it’s easy to accept what people tell you as gospel. My intuition told me what I needed and I questioned myself because I thought nothing I was doing was right. I try to follow my gut more often.
I’ve learned that exercise, healthy living, limited substances, laughter and love are keys to my happiness. Good friends and family, physical activity, sunshine, water, these are a few of my favourite things. Life can be simple once you recognize and hold onto what makes you smile. I got into hiking which gave me this new sense of accomplishment physically and mentally that I hadn’t felt before. Just going once made me cringe with the physical exertion I felt, but feel elated with what I had accomplished. The physical exertion, connection with nature, and overcoming a different kind of struggle made me feel like I had super strength. It instantly made me feel charged and ready to surpass other obstacles as they arose.
I’ve learned that people that tell me I see the world with “rose coloured glasses”, can go fuck themselves. I may be naive at times. I may think people that aren’t actually good people, may be good deep down. This doesn’t make me dumb, it makes me a human with love and compassion. I know all people aren’t good, but I choose to see the good in the bad and I will continue to do so as this is who I am. I don’t need to be told by anyone how I should perceive the world I live in. If you want to be a negative asshole, I will allow that, because I know deep down you’re likely an asshole because of something bad happening to you that you didn’t know how to cope with. We all have our shit. I’ll be here to give you a hug if and when you want to join me over here in la la land.
I’ve worked hard to embrace mindfulness, and living in the moment, as we have such a short time in this life. I try to think daily of the small things that bother me, and consider how meaningless they really are. All the things I worried about last year are no longer relevant. Obviously we need to put energy into things that matter day to day, but I think if we add humour to that and the fact that it doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of life, I think less about what’s not important and have more time for what is. I remember being at a funeral once and I was sobbing hysterically, even though I barely knew the deceased. I was overwhelmed with everyone else’s emotions and it made me sad so I cried. I was literally crying to the point of a panic attack. My dad was there and I explained my hysteria. He laughed subtly and said, while casually eating chips and dip at the buffet “why are you getting so worked up, the dead guy doesn’t care and everyone’s just walking around in monkey suits because that’s what they’re told to do, none of this is real.” That made a lot of sense to me at the time and I think about that often. Roll along, be as happy as you can, LOVE everything you can, laugh, cry when you want to, trust yourself, and just say “fuck it” whenever you’re able to.
Peace out 2017, catch you on the flip side.