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End of The Year Food For Thought life Self Love and Personal Growth

2021 lessons

In 2021, I celebrated my 2020 wins. I really graduated from college. I really gave birth. I really moved states, back into my childhood home. I really started a new phase of my life.

I spent 2021 raising a newborn for the first time. In 2021, I recovered from childbirth and surgery. I can admit now that I went in and out of postpartum depression. I watched my baby grow and celebrated her first birthday. I started working again for the first time in a year, going back to a company I was working for for years. I then quit said company months later. Then, I started a new full time position elsewhere and was recently told that I am getting promoted. I was hesitant about getting vaccinated, then got vaccinated, then helped out with covid vaccination clinics. I recently got my booster shot. I saw movies in the theater for the first time in a year. I saw family and friends for the first time in (a) year(s).

2021, like every year, had its own ups and downs. I managed to meet some of the goals I set and that is worth celebrating. Every year, I have takeaways. In the last days and beginning of the year, I always reflect. These are the lessons I learned or relearned in 2021.

Be flexible

It’s beneficial to have a plan but some things happen out of the blue, regardless of prior planning. It’s just as important to be able to adjust to what life brings as it is to stick to your plans. Also, some deadlines or goals are unrealistic from the start. Sometimes we need more time. Sometimes a goal that was once achievable suddenly won’t be because of new information or life events. Release tight control on how you want things to go. Sometimes those unplanned moments can lead to something bigger and better.

Be realistic

You can do almost anything you set your mind to. Go after what you want. But also, figure out if what you want is realistic for your life. Make sure your desires are workable and not a fantasy. If they are out of reach, make adjustments to make it realistic if it is actually what you are willing to work for. Please note: it is easier to stick to a goal when you are specific, hold yourself accountable daily, and qualify it. In a way, this goes hand in hand with being flexible. It wasn’t until halfway through the year that I realized some of my goals weren’t realistic. Some of this was due to my recovery from surgery, or because of covid and my desire to be extra careful for my daughter, or because of work, or because I simply didn’t want it anymore. Coming to terms with the fact that not all of our goals are realistic is a part of life. It can actually encourage our growth and steer us in the direction of something that is actually attainable.

To do lists are helpful

Writing things down not only can remind you a task needs completing. For me, it seals the desire to do it. It’s a tangible list of what my plans are. Whether it is for a day, a week, a month, to do lists help me manage my time and encourage me to complete what I have in mind. Crossing of an item, no matter how simple, releases some serotonin.

The US is systematically flawed

If you know you know. If you don’t, I won’t be the person to convince you otherwise.

Parenting is a whirlwind

Parenting is different than I thought it would be-not in a bad way. I’ve talked about motherhood in different posts. My biggest takeaway so far is that there is no right way to parent. And as parents, no matter how much we research, we make it all up as we go along. Parenting is a different type of unconditional love. Parenting provides a new perspective for everything.

Forgiveness doesn’t have to lead to anything more

Forgiving a person for harming you is not even necessary or realistic all of the time. I believe you can heal and move on without forgiveness. Maybe one day I’ll feel differently. That being said, you can also forgive someone for what they’ve done to you, without rebuilding or reconnecting with them. People can apologize and you can accept it, but it doesn’t change what has happened. Trust doesn’t automatically restore forgiveness. You can forgive and still be done with them. I did.

All relationships take mutual effort

Relationships are give and take. And when a problem arises, it is not up to only one person to fix it, no matter who is at fault. The effort may not always be equal because our lives demand different things. However, both people should be trying to some extent.

Every relationship is different

I mention this in a separate post too. It touches on the fact that we can know the same people, but have a different view or relationship with them than the with another person, and that is okay. It also means someone being kind to you doesn’t mean they aren’t horrible to someone else.

Meet people where they are

People are who they are. Sometimes they change. Sometimes they don’t. We can’t rely on who we want them to be. We can’t rely on who we think they will be. They are who they are. If we want more out of them, it is up to us to confront them. If they don’t change, it is up to us to accept them and the relationship for what it is, or to move on. We can only control ourselves.

Balance is hard

Being a full time parent and a full time employee has taught me that balance is hard and time moves fast. It’s difficult to find the balance between commuting and working, spending time with my kid and my family, making time for friends, making time for myself and my hobbies, eating, exercising, cleaning, and relaxing. Balance is important. It is also hard. I hope to get a better handle on it in 2022.

Not everything is an excuse

Balancing is hard. Time moves quickly when there is a lot going on. Someone saying they don’t have time is not always an “excuse.” Just because you “have time” or “make the time” doesn’t mean someone else has to as well. I’ve always hated the word excuse anyways, because the word excuse is subjective in nature. A reason to me can be an excuse to you and vice versa. The difference between a reason and an excuse, in a broad sense, is someone validating whether it is a good or bad reason. When it solely involves ourselves, we are the only ones who can truly decide, if our justification is a reason or an excuse.

Overworking (grinding) is not always good

Please rest. Please plan to take a break and to sleep and reset if you can. It’s important. There are health benefits.

People project a lot

I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in last year’s end of the year post too, but people project more than I thought. A singular sentence can be thrown out there and people will come up with different conclusions because they are projecting their life experience on it. Please note: some of those experiences are rooted in objective truths- because of things like racism and misogyny and how that impacts every system put into place. Sometimes though, their projection has no merit in the reality because everyone lives different lives. I don’t have to put up with something just because you do and vice versa. You don’t have to approve of some else’s life choices for them to live the life they do. Not referring to politics or laws, not everyone will feel the same way about topics that you do, and it is unfair to project your values and thoughts on to them.

Mindset affects reality

I kind of hate this saying, but it’s true. Your thoughts can shape your reality. Life is hard and it can be hard to control your thoughts. Intrusive thoughts exist. However being negative all the time, even if the situation is negative, will make things worse. This isn’t to say you should always see the brighter side of things either. But again, balance and moderation is important.

Be intentional with your time

Even if what you’re trying to do is waste time, that is still intentional. Life speeds by and you never know what’s going to happen and when. It was a 2021 goal of mine and it led to me being more present.

There is nuance to everything

Most subjects are multidimensional. There are layers to things and in order to have a full understanding, you have to acknowledge and understand each layer. The easiest way for me to explain this would be to compare it to intersectionality. As women, life is different than men’s. But as a black woman, it’s really different than a man’s experience. Different factors influence people’s choices and realities. That’s why some situations may not always be as it is seen on the surface.

2022 is here!

2021 went by so fast; it didn’t even feel like holiday season. 2022 has started and it has already been interesting to say the least. Here’s to hoping that this year will be an improvement from the last. Here’s to the future!

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Food For Thought Self Love and Personal Growth

Optimistically Realistic

Life has lead me to expect a version of the worst. It’s not that I consider myself pessimistic, but I can wholeheartedly say there is very little that is worse than being super excited and ending up disappointed. Or than doing all the “right” things and coming up short. Or finally getting what you want, just to have it all taken away from you. This goes hand in hand with the fact that I’m annoyingly empathetic. Sometimes I may come across as not genuine. But the more you get to know me, the more you know that I mean every single heartwarming and encouraging thing I say, even if we aren’t best friends, even if I barely know you. This empathy makes me feel the need to try and fix everything, including things and people that don’t deserve the help or aren’t ready for it. My empathy and excitability leave me heartbroken when I think I finally made it on the right track just to realize I was wrong. Unfortunately, some things can’t be fixed. Unfortunately, you don’t always get what you hope or expect.

To cope with this, my new mantra is to be optimistically realistic. Positivity does wonders for your mindset and your mental health. I’m all here for supporting, promoting, and spreading positivity. But if you’re excitable and empathetic like me, if you’ve become adjusted to things not working out no matter how hard you try, being positive all the time can lead to let down after let down. I’ve broken my own heart one too many times by being super positive without considering the possibility that things don’t work out the way we hope all the time. Eventually I learned that sometimes things don’t work out and sometimes that has nothing to do with you.

Living life is essentially a series of your responses to the shit it constantly throws your way. Sometimes it feels like one of those games where the levels get harder and harder the farther along you get. Positivity sure does make it easier to push through each level, but it also has the potential to knock you down because you weren’t being realistic, leaving you unprepared to deal with the fallout and the possibility of another hardship. This might sound cynical as hell but let me give you a hypothetical example.

Let’s assume you like long walks on beach. So, you’re walking on a beach, the sun is shining, the sound of the waves is soothing. You’re humming to your favorite song, and are now wondering how life could get any better than this. And then out of nowhere it starts raining. That’s no big deal though because you like the rain and you were feeling a little dry as it is. So, you’re singing in the rain and the further along the beach you walk, the more the wind starts to pick up. It was tolerable at first, but soon becomes a problem because now you’re freezing your ass off and the sand’s sticking to your feet. You keep pushing through, and eventually the storm passes. The waves have calmed, and the sun is shining once again. Now you’re back on cloud 9. Once again nothing can phase you. Not much time passes until it starts to storm all over again, but this time the winds are a little stronger and the rain is a little heavier. You stay positive, telling yourself it’ll be over soon, knowing your strong enough to get through it all. You were right. You get yourself through it and once again return back on cloud 9, feeling justifiably untouchable and indestructible. And then it pours for the third time! The wind is so strong you can barely move forward. Each drop dampens your clothing so it’s clinging to your skin. You’re trekking your way along this damned beach, completely soaked from head to toe, shivering from the cold winds, wondering why in the hell you didn’t invest in some rain boots and a coat after the first storm.

Let me break this down. In the metaphor, the rain boots and the raincoat serve as the realistic portion of an optimistically realistic mindset. Yes, it was your positivity that got you through the pouring rain, but by being realistic and preparing for the possibility of a storm, you’re better prepared for when the next storm hits. You are being realistic by acknowledging that rain might or will happen again. But then you ask, “what if a storm never comes? Then I’m stuck carrying around those boots and jacket, bracing myself for the worst.” I feel what you’re saying. In a way, depending on how you use it, realism can hold you back. But let’s be honest. This is life we’re talking about. A hardship, similar to the storm, will come in some way, shape, or form into your life again. Life throws little challenges your way on daily basis whether you notice it or not. If you don’t notice it, you’re lucky.

By being realistic, I’m allowing myself room for the idea that not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Shit happens whether you brought it about or not. It happens even when you are a kind and innocent person who doesn’t deserve the pain life can bring. By being optimistic, I’m encouraging myself. I’m giving myself room to breathe and room to believe. Because sometimes things do work out. Sometimes you get the results you’re looking for. The problem with being overwhelmingly positive to me, is that it has the potential to take me higher and higher so that the day I get let down, I end up falling from a farther distance than I would’ve if I had thought realistically. That’s what tends to happen when you’re ridiculously excitable, reactive and empathetic. Don’t get me wrong; it is possible to reach the same levels of height by being realistic. Whether you do or don’t depends on how you use realism. See, by being optimistically realistic, I look at the whole scope of the situation instead of just what I want or hope to see. Being overwhelmingly optimistic can be blinding. Realism is my version of sunglasses.