Resolutions that inspire us to be the best of ourselves during the New Year have always fascinated me. Some would like to diet, others want to exercise more and some simply want to read a few more books within the year. Looking back at the variety 2016 had to offer, the many ways in which people want to mix up their habits does not surprise me.
I learned a lot in 2016. I feel like I’ve learned a lot each year since I can remember, but 2016 had much more in store for me than I could have anticipated. I opened my own business, I got engaged to my now husband, we said goodbye to a loved one, I said hello to my first nephew, I experienced a lot of inner turmoil, our apartment became a little piece of hell when we moved in, and the list goes on. There was not a lot of peace in 2016.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had time to reflect on the many unforeseen events that colored the year. I could not help but feel defeated, and going back home to a third job of the year that I don’t like only added to the psychological chaos competing for my every thought. I wanted to go home, pack our bags, and get the hell out of dodge.
My husband and I could not have prevented most of what happened this year but regardless of the situation, we always had a choice in our behavior and how much we were willing to let the circumstance have its toll on us. I’m a psychology major and a mind and body relationship buff so I understand a little more than the average Joe about how stress affects a person no matter how we attempt to think our way out of it. However, I’m talking more about learning to give into what is happening in a way that frees you from being slave to it each time. Then it dawned on me: I am in desperate need of freedom.
Now that I am older, I understand that each person has a reason, a “justifiable” reason, for why they do the things they do, but when I think about the year to come I have to look at the year currently passing. I realize that there were many times I chose to give into a situation and the whims of others without thinking is this what I want? Is this how I will behave? I started to become the type of person that stressed me out. I was my own enemy, and when this begins to happen it seeps down into the rest of your personal life as well. What is it I want from this? I asked. How can I escape from this? How can I stop thinking so much about myself? Freedom I decided. I want to be free.
During our honeymoon, my husband and I went on a caving excursion. At one point, the nine people in our group were told to lie on our backs in the water of the cave as the light from the group in front of us slowly began to fade away until we were left in complete darkness and chilling silence. That was my current emotional state. Dark, silent… I could feel myself fading. All that I wanted and all my expectations: fading. I have always prided myself with how ambitious I was, or at least as ambitious as I thought I was, but I am also a realist with high expectations. Both of the latter have now put me in a position I find hard to get out of. I even told myself it might be easier to start assuming everything will turn out to be awful just to make the reality of my expectations less alarming when they blow up in my face. Now I understand it is easier to have no expectations. My dad used to joke about this, but I think this is the key that unlocks the door to potential. When I think about what I want and how to achieve it, I don’t leave room or time to explore different options; this could very well be a result of our current culture’s climate for immediacy on all fronts or a reality I have made for myself. Either way, it is not easy to regulate nor is it a sustainable environment for creativity.
My focus has been misplaced and therefore my potential has been exhausting itself. Exhausted potential is the gateway to the ultimate frustration, and this new year I promise to treat my potential with tenderness and excitement giving myself a little more grace along the way.