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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 life Self Love and Personal Growth

The Dream I Had

I had a dream a month or so ago that woke me up feeling some type of way I cannot really explain. I wholeheartedly believe dreams that are remembered can tell you a lot. They pull from your subconscious. They can spark your creativity and imagination, remind you of something you have forgotten or have been meaning to do, teach you lessons, and even tell you how you feel. In this dream, there was a bunch of things happening, but the part I am going in to detail about is the part I remember the most that resonates the most with me.

I suppose I was a teacher in the dream. I had a whole group of people with me, all in their twenties-around the same age as me. I don’t know what kind of class it was. It seemed like the mission was to complete an escape room like experiment. A lot of us had finished it on our own already. There was one person who hadn’t experienced the escape room yet.

One of the stages required the participant(s) to knock out this monster guarding the next round. The way to achieve this was to pull the ropes so that the monster would be enticed to go near the dangling slab of concrete attached to the rope, which you’d end up releasing on its head. The person who didn’t complete the escape room beforehand, lets just call her “Student,” performed this step with the help of everyone else. As the teacher I allowed it, though I was getting a little annoyed because she was meant to do it herself.

We moved through that round of the escape room and got to a huge room with two sections. As you walk in you would see a desk with with papers on it, with a drawer and a lock. To the right of that was a huge window that opens out with another desk underneath it. Shelves covered in books, vases, and plants decorated the walls. An archway to the left led to treasure chests with key holes on top of chairs. Bookcases were on the walls behind that.

The group that was there started explaining to Student how to get the keys to open the locked drawers and chests without her exploring the room and finding them for herself. I was getting more and more agitated. At one point I told them all to stop feeding her information. She found a key with their help and searched for which keyhole it opened by herself. She went to the first keyhole she saw and attempted to open it. It needed a code. She couldn’t figure out the code, so the drawer wasn’t opening.

Everyone knew the key wasn’t meant for the desk drawer. The key opened the treasure chest in the archway. A group of people moved there because they were getting restless. It seemed like a lot of time was passing. I was worried that she would assume the key opened a treasure chest in that room simply because everyone gravitated there. Then, someone opened up the treasure chest and pulled out a plant, which was what Student was meant to find. I yelled at that person for sabotaging this whole experiment which was meant for Student to learn. Turns out that person took the plant that was inside to mess with, who I assume, is the other person who facilitated the experiment. Their actions had nothing to do with helping or harming Student although it would affect her.

I went outside to recover the plant that was taken and when I got back inside, Student was crying hysterically. The drawer just wouldn’t open and she was frustrated. Someone else was crying watching her. I approached Student and consoled her, holding the plant behind my back. Someone took it from me as I told her, “Hey, obviously this isn’t working. This key isn’t for that drawer. You know that. Why do you keep trying? Find the right keyhole.”

She ended up going to the room everyone gravitated to. She picked the right treasure chest and opened it. Although the plant she was meant to find wasn’t in there, it would’ve been. One of the members of the group revealed it to her. Student seemed satisfied and asked, “See. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just tell me how to do it?”

“No,” I answered, “Because this was meant to teach you how to think critically and problem solve. I would’ve let you keep going but we’re running out of time. Now it’s time to open the desk drawer.” The code to the drawer was outside, on the ground, which could be discovered by looking out of the window. I was worried she wouldn’t find it.

Then I woke up.

I took away a couple explanations and lessons from this dream. A part of me felt like I was talking to my daughter just because I am pregnant with a girl and mothers tend to teach lessons to their children.

However, I also took away how Student was trying the same thing over and over again. It wasn’t working, she knew it wasn’t working, but she kept trying. And though getting up after you get kicked down is admirable, it is equally as important to recognize when your approach is wrong. Trying the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, is insanity. It’s important to be flexible and to learn when to keep going, walk away, or approach the situation differently.

I was upset in the dream because I wanted Student to figure out things for herself. When you are always given all the answers, you become dependent on others. It can make it hard to know where to start when you are met with a problem. It can, in some ways, hinder your growth. Problem solving and critical thinking are skills. Skills need to be developed and sharpened. This doesn’t mean not to ask for help or rely on others. It’s just a reminder to trust yourself and your instincts as well.

People providing Student with answers also bothered me because it did not allow her to look for clues. Escape rooms somewhat require you to solve a puzzle by looking at all the details to make sure you don’t miss anything. Student wasn’t turning every stone. She looked at the directions she was pointed to instead of the bigger picture. She also wasn’t looking at the details. You can learn a lot by stepping back to see the whole picture and by zooming in to look closely at the details.

It can be hard or disheartening to watch, but sometimes you have to watch people figure it out on their own. You can give your opinions and advice, but ultimately it is their life. You can tell your kids not to touch the hot stove, but they will not understand how hot it is until they touch it. Similarly, sometimes you have to learn the lessons for yourself. I mean, how many times has someone given you advice that you did not listen to? How many times were those people right? It is different to hear it than experience it.

Lastly, upon editing this post, I was reminded that life happens. People, events, and situations may interfere with your life and unknowingly (or knowingly) affect your life. The person who stole the plant was not thinking about Student when they did so, but the chest was still empty when Student unlocked it. Intentions matter, but they do not always warrant forgiveness.

Maybe I think too much, but those were the lessons I took from that dream I had. It was so random but the fact I remembered meant something to me. It felt like a metaphor when I woke up. I had to share what I learned and was reminded of.