As 2017 came to an end, like many others, I began to reflect on the past year. Earlier I turned to my journal which has become the greatest keepsake of all my struggles and hopes that I encountered this year. I began to write about all of the big things that happened this year: starting a new job, leaving a job in retail that I hated, taking an exhausting trip that taught me how brave and capable I can be, getting my associate’s degree (first in the family to do so), applying and getting accepted to a university, paying off my car, and starting this blog. I talked about friendships that were strengthened, ones that were lost, people that I met, experiences I had, the fact that I managed to exercise relatively consistently this year, and that I created a wardrobe I actually love. But the thing that really gets to my heart is the peace and confidence that I now have in myself that I never thought was possible, especially not three months ago. I don’t know how I got here. I guess it’s been a compilation of everything that’s happened this year. My faith disappeared, insecurities peaked, I seemed to be continually confused about my future, and I felt the lowest I ever have. Somewhere in there something began to develop. I went from trying to trust the universe because I no longer felt I could pray to God to rediscovering my faith, praying every night, and feeling so thankful for another day. But mostly I was unbelievably grateful for the ability to be comfortable with who I am and to not feel insecure or be as judgmental when I look at other people and their lives. I don’t know how to stress enough how much of a battle comparing myself to others has always been for me. To not just be comfortable, but to be confident, at peace, and thankful to be who I am tops anything else that happened this year.
I had a difficult time figuring out what to write about today. I’ve had a list of topics that I would like to discuss on here that have been gathered from different journal entries and experiences. None of them felt quite right today. Whenever I have trouble figuring out how to write or what to write, I just tell myself to be honest and vulnerable. Cut the crap. No frills or fuss. Just be real and authentic. What follows might be a hot mess of confusion. Please, just go with it because these are the greatest things I’ve learned this past year.
- Have faith. Believe in something, even if it’s just yourself and your own power. I’m not brave enough to think I could possibly control my own life, so I pray. I noticed that my faith does not stay in one form and needs to evolve and adapt as I change. My biggest and strongest prayer/mantra that I developed towards the end of this year has been, “I don’t know how or when, but I trust that you will make it happen. In the meantime, I am going to be the best and most authentic version of myself that I’ve ever been.” That last part became a goal that I didn’t recognize until just now. If I expect to get what I want, I have to do my part by being the best version of myself I can possibly be.
- Watch your focus. As someone who’s usually single, I often get told when dating doesn’t go as planned that maybe I should just focus on myself. I’m all for working towards your goals and dreams, but do not focus on yourself. What you focus on is what you will get. Like exercise, it’s not so much the weight you use, but the concentration you put on building a particular muscle. When you really think about it and work on activating that muscle, you will strengthen it. In the same way, if you want love, concentrate on it and bring it into all that you do. This goes for anything. If you want it, give it. If you want to strengthen it, keep it activated. Keep in mind this is coming from a person who has been extraordinarily selfish and self-centered her whole life, so I’m not claiming to have this down. But I have realized that focusing on myself has gotten me nowhere and has just made me become more closed off. Not to mention, it can actually become exhausting. Maybe it’s just me and I’ve been taking focusing on myself to the extreme.
- Be honest. Journaling has helped me to see that, whether I’m in a slump or on a high, my truest dreams and goals have never really changed. Once you start to see the pattern, you begin to recognize who you really are. Sometimes I knew I was lying to other people about what I really wanted out of life, but I didn’t realize that I lied to myself just as much. Be honest with yourself first, then be bold and unwavering when you share your desires with others. I’m still working on the last part.
- Don’t be your own worst enemy. There are a lot of things you can’t control. If you don’t have to think about it, don’t waste your mental energy on it. It’s only going to cause unnecessary stress and uneasiness in your life. Sometimes when certain things pop up in your brain, you have to consciously tell yourself that it’s not worth thinking about. It’s difficult at first, but it does become easier. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s okay to not know the answers to certain questions. Keep your mind focused on what really matters and only allow thoughts that are beneficial to your overall wellness. Don’t be a prisoner of your own device. (Yes, that’s an Eagles’ “Hotel California” lyric reference).
Typically, if I include a quote, I would like to put it at the top. It didn’t seem right there today. I found this quote a few months ago and it helped me realize that my own rebirth was just around the corner. For anyone who might struggle in 2018, remember that nature works in seasons and so does life.
“All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried.”-Donald Miller 🌳🍂