My New Year’s Eve tradition is to spend a night at home, writing and reflecting on the year and setting my goals for the New Year.
It was a year of big changes, lots of uncertainty and fear, many reasons to be grateful, and lots of opportunities for my issues to be revealed.
- I packed up my room in Melbourne and officially moved to Bowen in Queensland.
- I moved in with a friend and lived in a house without a family member for the first time.
- I bought a car.
- I got a job as an administrator.
- I got a volunteer role as a kidschurch coordinator.
Out of about ten goals, I achieved only two of them, but they were worth the full ten, I reckon, for what I got out of them.
First, I read more. I set a goal to read for at least half an hour a day, not necessarily so I’d read every day, but to make me read more. I’ve read 32 books this year, an improvement on last year. What I found is that on the days I read, no matter what I read, I felt happier.
Second, I published Fall in Love with Writing as an ebook. This was a huge win because publishing books is probably my biggest dream in life. So to have gone through editing, cover design, content formatting, and all that, it was a huge milestone to finally publish my first book.
The major goal that I failed was to have a self-hosted blog and blog every day for a year. I set up a self-hosted blog but realised that I don’t have the resources for it and it’s the wrong timing.
I was trying to force my whole writing dream and failed miserably, but I learnt that I just have to be me before I do anything. So it led to good things. It led to this blog where I’m finally okay to sit with whatever comes out, to fail publicly, learn as I go, and be okay with the journey of blogging – as I’m also now okay with the journey of being myself.
It was a year of pain, sort of like a year-long dark night of the soul. It was one of the hardest years of my life, definitely the most painful one, where I seemed to be hit with every type of pain there is.
There was physical, mental, emotional, and relational pain and every area of my life seemed to be affected at one time or another: at home, at work, in my room, in the world, in my mind, in my body, in my heart, in my soul, in my friendships, in myself. The good thing was that relief, joy, gratitude, and many lessons came in between each type of pain.
It’s been a year of learning about identity through pain. This is what I’ve learnt:
- Pain is okay. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or that I’ve done something wrong.
- I’m allowed to feel pain and express it. The worst thing I can do is try to deny it or ignore it. I’m allowed to cry and show my tears.
- I’m allowed to think, feel and react the way I do (in terms of how I think and feel). But I never have to go on thinking, feeling and reacting the way I do.
- My thoughts and feelings aren’t always true. I’m allowed to have them but I never have to believe them or let them control me.
- I’m allowed to have days when my thoughts and feelings control me. I don’t have to feel guilty and let it turn into a week or month of bad thoughts and feelings. I can sit with it for a day and start over when my strength is back the next day instead of waste energy feeling bad for the way I am.
- I don’t have to feel guilty for who I am. I’m okay. I’m acceptable. I’m enough. Even with my anxious thoughts, depressive moods, and imperfect nature. I don’t have to change before I accept myself. I can like who I am now.
- I have permission not to please everyone. I have permission to be myself. By being myself, I won’t please everyone, but that’s okay. I make a bigger impact by being me.
- Failure is okay. It is often a door to success and always a door to growth.
At the end of this year, what I’ve learnt is that I’ve got a long way to go. I’ve learnt some massive insights and have a whole bunch of new perspectives, but it will take time to put them in practice and live them.
Some days it feels like I go backwards, other days it feels like I’m believing two opposite things at once when I believe I’m a horrible person at the same time that I tell myself I love myself.
So, I know what I’ve learnt this year is just the beginning of the journey. I know there is no quick fix, and I’m not looking for one. Learning a new insight doesn’t mean I won’t keep struggling with the old way I used to think.
A year won’t necessarily fix it, but it doesn’t need to. Just walking through this journey is enough. I don’t need to be fixed to be a loved person or a useful one. I just need to be me and go where this journey takes me.
I want to be active on the journey though. I want to do what I can to live what I’ve learnt and be active about learning more.
So 2016 is about finding myself and following my sparks. It’s about learning who I am, accepting who I am, and being who I am. It’s about stripping outside voices and listening to the voice inside me. It’s about not feeling guilty for I am or what I love. It’s about reading, writing, creating, learning, and giving.