Categories
Children life

Musings of a New Mom

Parenthood is fulfilling. It’s surreal. It’s a blessing. Parenthood is frustrating. And exhausting. And anxiety fueling. Parenting, especially being a mom, is a never ending responsibility. Even when I’m not with her, I can’t help but wonder what she’s up to. And she’s only 10 months old. She’s not even able to leave the house or do anything on her own yet. How will it be in 10 more months? In five years? In ten years?

Being a mom is objectively the most fulfilling lifestyle I’ve incorporated. It’s enhanced my belief in the universe and a higher power. I don’t believe everyone should be a parent, nor that it is everyone’s purpose. I think the conversation about having children is too nuanced for this post, though I touch a little on it here. I do think being a mother is meant to be a part of my journey. Experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, and becoming a parent has given me a new perspective on life. It’s caused me to view other parents in a different light and has made it even easier for me to extend grace to others. It’s similar to how when you’re a child you view adults on a pedestal, looking up to them, only to grow up and realize everyone is really just trying their best and struggling in at least one area of their lives. There’s a different level of understanding of what parenthood is after being an active parent and caretaker.

Something I learned as a parent is that there really isn’t a right way to parent. Objectively there are “wrong” ways, because to a point human development is a science, we experience emotions, and trauma is everlasting, but there is no clear cut, one size fits all, way to parenting. People will shame and judge for minuscule things (like formula versus breast milk) and half of those people won’t even have kids of their own. What’s important is being active, present, and supportive for your child in whatever way works for your lifestyle and family.

Being a mom has given a new meaning to the word sacrifice, especially in the midst of covid. I spent nine months sacrificing my body for her. I’ll spend the rest of my life making decisions I hope benefits both of us. I’ve said “no” to outings I would have otherwise done in a heartbeat. Being a mom has made me more thoughtful and intentional in my actions. It’s made me want and hopefully succeed in being more present in my day to day life and spend less time on my phone and inside my inner world. It’s made me understand and become even more appreciative of the sacrifices and choices my parents have made throughout our lives to give my brother and I the lives they’ve given us.

Parenthood makes me anxious. Because what if one day she just stops breathing when she’s sleeping? (Luckily I think we’re past the SIDS phase). Or what if she hits her head too many times when she’s playing? Or what if I’m not doing enough to teach her and am stifling her development? What if I’m not spending enough time with her? And in this way, parenting really is a sort of projection. It forces you to look at yourself and your fears and your guilt and your boundaries. It forces you to look at how you were raised and decide how you want to parent.

Sometimes, I find myself comparing my daughter’s growth to the babies I’ve seen born around the same time. Sometimes I wonder if other people parent in similar ways than I do or if I’m just completely off mark in some respects. Sometimes, I feel guilty the few times I’m out with friends without her. Sometimes, I wish I had a little more free time and space to be carefree away from responsibilities.

In a few years there has to be studies on the effect the pandemic has made on babies and pregnancy. Being pregnant during a pandemic was experiencing two traumas at once. Being pregnant during a pandemic after graduating college, I could argue was experiencing three. I was experiencing three major changes in my life with little face to face contact with others. It felt like out of nowhere I popped up with a baby because few people actually saw me pregnant. Few people knew until late in my second trimester. And now I have a baby and we’re still in this weird standby with Covid, so few people have seen her in person. One of my friends was asking for more pictures of her, and it’s made me realize outside of social media, I really don’t think to send out pictures or updates of her in texts. I was thinking about why, and it is really for no other reason than the fact that I experienced pregnancy pretty isolated from people outside of my household. And now that the world is sort of opening up and I’m less isolated, I have to link the two realities.

The craziest part about parenting is seeing my little girl develop and do new things she wasn’t doing before. Before having a baby, I have been around babies and toddlers and children, but in their separate stages. I had never seen human development day by day with my own eyes before. Now she’s clapping and trying to stand all the time. She recognizes certain words. She knows her name. In ten plus months my baby went from a solely eating, sleeping, pooping newborn who couldn’t lift her head to a full blown baby who is starting to eat solids, who can crawl, and can sit up and stand by herself. Babies’ development is so drastic in the first year and it’s amazing to see it play out with my own eyes. She’s really growing and learning. She’s really almost a toddler.

Time has been moving so differently since the pandemic and my pregnancy. Sometimes, I worry I will blink and she’ll already be twenty one. She’s only a few months away from being a year, and I still look at her newborn pictures with nostalgia. It feels like it happened so long ago. It makes me want to freeze time.

Around this time (October 27th), a post has been going around Twitter from a mother who was struggling and unhappy in an attempt to shame her. I don’t have a picture of the post but it was a call for help. She was expressing some regrets and frustration about the reality of motherhood for her. And as parents, specifically mothers, it’s worth mentioning that society doesn’t often extend grace to us the way we deserve. The idea of being a super mom has become propaganda. People use the fact the most of the time motherhood is a choice as a weapon against mothers. People expect mothers to be at the top of their game all the time and to care for their kids without complaint or mentioning how their life has changed. (Please note, they don’t expect the same from fathers though).

Most people don’t genuinely know how or have the thought or time to be supportive of mothers. Unless you yourself are an active parent or caregiver, you will never fully understand that amount of physical, mental, and emotional energy that goes into caring for someone else. (Caring for pets can bring similar feelings but it’s different). And when you’re caring for someone else, you’re also caring for yourself and handling your own responsibilities too. That’s double on your plate, assuming you’re only responsible for one other person. I don’t know how people with multiple babies and toddlers do it. I don’t know how truly single mothers do it. I don’t know how teen mothers do it. I have newfound respect for parents and caregivers honestly. I can’t stress that enough.

It sucks that mothers, including myself, feel the need to shower the benefits of motherhood before talking about the harder parts. Why do we have to have the disclaimer– My kid is the best thing that has happened to me– before saying it hurt when she head butted me in the mouth while throwing a tantrum and caused my lip to bleed. Why do we feel so shamed to talk about the frustrations of raising and guiding another human being? Parenting is hard! You have to look at yourself and your boundaries and remember that your baby or toddler isn’t intentionally being harmful when they do hurtful things. One minute my baby is cute and precious and the next she’s testing my patience. I roll my eyes at every tantrum and cherish every moment of affection. No matter how she acts, I still love her the same and will always love her with my entire heart.

Being a parent is a living oxymoron. When she’s fussy, I beg for her to take a nap. And when she’s asleep, I want her to wake up. My daughter makes me roll my eyes when she cries because she can’t chew on my glasses and in a moment can make me smile when she rests her head on me. She makes me laugh when she has a giggle fit. She makes me frustrated when she bites me cause she’s teething. She makes me proud when she babbles back in conversation and makes me grin when she starts bouncing to a song. And when I want a break and leave her with one of my family members, I have the urge to check in after a few minutes. This goes back to the guilt of experiencing things for and by myself. It’s like when it’s summer you want it to be winter. When it’s winter, you want it to be summer. It’s probably best just to embrace the moment.

The reality is once you become an active parent or caregiver, few things are ever just about you anymore. The only time I have completely by myself is in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep and on my commute to work. Any plans made requires approval for someone else to make sure they will watch the baby. Before, I wanted to succeed in my career; now I have to continue gaining experience so that I can thrive in it. Being a mom, for me, means she comes first. There’s a reason airplanes instruct parents to help themselves first, in case of an emergency; that’s not the instinct. Being a mom means I make sure she’s settled before I eat or leave for work. It means she’s asleep or someone’s with her before I go to sleep. It means I think twice before making plans and I give myself an extra hour to get ready to leave the house. It’s means I rush when I do anything that takes my attention away from her.

Being a parent can take away from your individuality. Children need pretty constant attention in the early years of childhood. Everything is about the baby for at least the first year- I’m not sure when that ends. Especially when the baby is a newborn, people will check in on the baby, before checking in on you. They’ll understandably ask to see the baby when making plans with you. And when other people see you taking time away from your child, whether they themselves are parents or not, they tend to have something negative to say. Again, this is more so directed at mothers than fathers.

I have support, so it’s not like I can never have time to myself, but it doesn’t shake the guilt that comes with even the thought of taking time for myself. It’s been ten almost eleven months and I’ve never been away from her for an entire day. The idea of leaving her for that long is still hard. My baby didn’t ask to be born into this world; the least I can do is be present for her. This doesn’t mean that I and other mothers and parents are not still our own people though. It doesn’t mean we don’t deserve time away sometimes just because we chose to have children. It is so important to me that I and others don’t lose ourselves in parenthood and instead let it enhance us and became just another one of our identities.

My priorities, mindset, and perspective has completely changed from a year ago since becoming pregnant and a mother. Creating a happy and healthy life for my daughter and I is my goal in life. She is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I don’t think I can truly express how much I love her with words, even when she gets on my nerves.

Categories
Food For Thought life Societal

The Complexities of Humans

Humans are complex. We are eager to learn and to be innovative. We are relatively self aware. We have a physical body, a curious mind, and a spiritual soul. Our minds have the capacity to store information and experience a wide range of emotions. We can problem solve with complex thinking and emotional understanding, not solely act out of instinct. There’s still a lot we have yet to discover or thoroughly understand about the human body and mind. But one thing’s for sure. Humans are alike and different. We’re all multifaceted, made up of a variety of characteristics and identities.

There are many factors, some chosen some not, who make us into the people we are. I read somewhere once that people are a combination of pieces of everyone they have met and connected with throughout their life. This makes sense when you consider that our brains try to mimic what we see. That’s why we yawn when we see someone else yawn. We pick up phrases and mindsets of the people we are around. Who we surround ourselves with impacts who we are.

Everyone we connect with whether in passing or in a deep relationship, romantic, platonic, familial, or otherwise, can leave lasting impacts on us. Some are subtle scratches, some are deep wounds that take time to heal. Those experiences teach us what it is we like, dislike, want, will accept, and will reject while shaping the way we understand the world and others.

On an individual basis, it can be hard to remember the complexities of humans. We interact with someone and use that as a basis for how we view them. We can fail to see that those moments are only a sliver of who the person is. (Sometimes the moments we have with others are misrepresentations and/or projections). It can be hard to see someone else as a whole person with a past and encounters that make them into who they are. It’s not for everyone to know everything about you, unless you choose for it to be, nor for you to know everything about everyone you encounter. It is something to keep in mind that can help if you have trouble taking things personally.

Just think about yourself for a second. Do you treat everyone in your life exactly the same? Has every person you’ve ever crossed paths with, even for a brief moment, experienced the same you as others do? I mean, that would be seemingly impossible because our moods and mindsets can change daily. Prior events lead to current moments which can lead to a variety of emotions.

For example, different people know different ways to make me laugh. Some people bring out the worst in me, others motivate me. Some are quick to ask me advice and vent about life. Some I can talk about reality tv and anime with. I talk about work with coworkers in a different way than I would a friend, just as I talk about motherhood differently to people who are mothers.

Everyone we connect with affects us differently, even if it feels similar to someone else. Everyone taps into different parts of us. No one has the same exact relationship with you, as you and they have with others, even if you know mutual people from the same environment. When you remember that, you remember that we all probably don’t treat everyone in the same way, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I saw a post on Twitter one day that asked, when did you start to see your parents as whole people a part from you. And now being a mom it’s something I think about every so often. It’s easy to forget parents experienced so much before their children get here, even if they had them young. Their encounters shape who they are which can shape who their children become and when those children have kids that cycle continues. But as a kid and growing up, it’s easy to only see them as parents. Even when parents speak on the past, their children weren’t there to experience it. Some parents go more in depth than others. Some are still healing from scars their children don’t even know about. And all of this would affect their treatment of their child.

And this isn’t just true about parents. It’s true about everyone we encounter. Everyone, even the most privileged, is going through shit, manageable or not, all the time. How we see others may not truly be who they are and vice versa. Someone being kind to you doesn’t mean they’re kind to others. Reacting poorly in one situation doesn’t automatically make someone a bad person. Sometimes we don’t understand the actions of others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong.

For example, a couple years ago when I was evidently depressed and just in the dumps about life, I didn’t want to do anything or be social. It turned people the wrong way when I would cancel going to an event to work instead. But the thing was, I didn’t mind working because if I had to do something I figured I might as well make money from it. It made me feel productive and distracted all while my brain could turn off. I didn’t feel the need to have to connect or be present at work like I would at a social gathering.

Inside out is one of my favorite Pixar movies. It deals with human emotion and the brain in a playful way as it relates to kids. One of the biggest take aways from the movie is that an event can bring about mixed emotions. Sometimes you’re going to be overwhelmed with emotions but it’s healthier to feel it out than to let it build up. Memories can bring about multiple emotions like happiness and sadness and jealousy and anger etc. All those feelings occur because of different reasons even though the event is the same. Perspective, man.

The same is true with people. We are one person who can do a range of different things. We can tell lies, perform acts of kindness, compliment or be mean to others, blow off the people we love, be closed off, insecure, etc. We can be amazing people who do or say bad things, even to ourselves, from time to time. And the reality is, it is up to other people to decide if they want to deal with us or not. Of course we can apologize, change and grow, but no one has to wait around for us to do so, just as we don’t have to wait for others.

So, what I’m trying to say is that we are complex and imperfect. We have flaws and bad days. We make mistakes. We have many characteristics and identities. Everyone gets a slightly different version of us and that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. We are a compilation of our experiences and the people we meet. We are alike and unique. We are forever changing.

Categories
life Pregnancy

Let’s Talk About: Childbirth

After a long 39 weeks, I finally welcomed my baby girl into the world. For the sake of the transparency that I offer on my blog about topics I discuss, here’s what I have to say about childbirth, based on my experience.

For some reason I haven’t thoroughly researched, there’s discourse surrounding the way people give birth. I think generally speaking it doesn’t matter which way a person gives birth. It should be a choice made by the pregnant person. No one should be shamed for the way they give birth. It’s divisive for no reason.

There are benefits to both vaginal birth and c-sections. I wouldn’t say one is easier than the other; each one brings about its own risks and effects. Some are shamed for choosing to have a c section as if it’s not a “real” birth. Some are shamed for using pain medication during a vaginal birth. I find all of the discourse arbitrary. All I advise is you research both options and the use of pain medication as thoroughly as you can, talk to your doctor about your concerns, and make a decision from there.

To put it bluntly, childbirth isn’t easy. A pregnant body is able to change to carry a baby and deliver it, but that doesn’t make it easier or less painful. People downplay the dangers and pain that come with childbirth because there’s a beautiful outcome. Your brain also releases chemicals to make you forgot just how awful the experience was. I was asked by some friends how I rate the overall pregnancy and childbirth experience. I rate it a 2/10. It wasn’t fun for me at all, but I also shockingly would do it all again. I look at my daughter and would repeat it all again in a heartbeat.

If you don’t know by now, I’m not going to sugarcoat my thoughts or experience surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. If you’re looking for something to ease your mind surrounding this, don’t keep reading. Look somewhere else. I’m not saying this to be intimidating. Everyone’s experiences are different and there’s no point in psyching yourself out based on my own experience when you’re looking for comfort.

To me, childbirth is a trauma regardless of the way you deliver your baby. Vaginal birth comes with hours of labor and contractions and hours of pushing a six pound baby out of your vagina. For the people who do it without pain medication, I salute you, cause that could not be me. C-sections are quicker and less painful in terms of the initial delivery, but have other effects that don’t make it any less painful of a process.

I haven’t heard many people’s experiences with childbirth. Because of this, I will share mine. There shouldn’t be a mystery surrounding childbirth and pregnancy. I wholeheartedly believe it needs to be discussed with more authenticity. I think the reason it isn’t is so people don’t get turned off of having kids.

I got a C-section because of my autoimmune disease, but if I had a real choice, I would probably still choose a C-section. The idea of vaginal birth is too traumatizing to me; it scares me, especially when considering the tears that you can experience alongside of the delivery. The C-section I got was also traumatic in a different way though, so you really just need to pick what’s best for you and your situation and know that the pain and discomfort is temporary. The end will all be worth it.

My C-section was scheduled. The date was chosen by my Obgyn based on my due date. I researched what I could to have some sort of understanding about what I was going to experience, but stopped when I realized it was making me more anxious. I couldn’t eat when I woke up. I got to the hospital a couple hours earlier than the scheduled time. They gave me IVs, went through a bunch of health questions, discussed rules surrounding Covid, answered any of my questions, listened to the baby’s heartbeat, monitored me for contractions, and took my vitals. My c section got pushed back because of an emergency one. When the time came, they walked me to the operating room.

It’s cold in there, and not just because they regulate the temperature for the baby’s entrance. Everything’s sterile, the room is bright, and the instruments for the surgery were extra shiny. There was also a pediatrician, my obgyn, another obgyn who was helping with the procedure, an anesthesiologist, and three nurses compacted with me in this overly bright room. Eventually my mom would join us. Luckily, everyone was pretty welcoming.

The first thing that happened was the spinal injection. You have to hunch your back for the anesthesiologist to find the right spot to inject. I felt a spark rush through my thigh that scared me and brought tears to my eyes. The rest of the injection didn’t hurt too much. Almost instantly my legs felt tingly. They lied me on the table and hooked me up to more IVs and a heart rate monitor. They told me I shouldn’t feel any pain but I would feel touching, tugging, and pulling.

They did their various tests to ensure I couldn’t feel pain. I also couldn’t feel the difference between hot or cold below my chest; the blocker really worked. As I’ve said in my previous post, I’ve suffered from nausea my whole pregnancy. I was nauseous waiting for the c-section partly because there was no food in my stomach. The epidural is known to make people nauseous. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t move my body. I couldn’t hear out of one of my ears and when I told them, they assured me it wasn’t because of the epidural, that it was probably because of the environment. I realized I was having a little panic attack.

I tried to swallow the nausea but I couldn’t. I mustered enough strength to tell the anesthesiologist I was nauseous. He handed me a bag and I proceeded to throw up in it. But I couldn’t lift my head, so I was throwing up out of the side of my mouth. I barely made it into the bag. As this is happening my mom got brought it. The procedure had already started. My hearing came back, I continued to throw up, and I tried to stay calm. My mom and the anesthesiologist checked in with me periodically to make sure I was okay.

At some point I was warned I would start to feel some tugging. I could feel it as they reached in to pull out my baby. Before I knew it I heard her crying. I felt like crying but because of the shock of the situation I couldn’t. My mom went to cut the umbilical cord and talk with the pediatrician who did a routine check up. The doctors finished closing me up. I was too nauseous to hold my daughter, but I got to see her close by once the check up was done. After the procedure, they moved me to the recovery room where I stayed with my daughter and my mom for a while. They continued tracking my vitals and those of my newborn. I still felt out of it from the procedure.

People downplay the fact a c-section is a surgery. The spinal blocker didn’t wear off until the next day. I had a catheter put in and when it was taken out the next day I had to remind myself how to pee. It hurt to laugh, sneeze and cough, sit down, stand up, walk and do anything that required abdominal muscles. It’s been about two weeks since my surgery and it still hurts to do some of those things. After a c-section you’re instructed not to do anything pretty much. You can’t push or pull anything. You can’t lift anything heavier than your baby. You can’t do housework. You can’t drive. You can’t exercise. You can’t go up and down stairs too much. For me it was hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in.

Alongside the surgery recovery, is the recovery from childbirth and adjusting to a newborn in general. You start bleeding again as your uterus begins to shrink. You can feel cramping and contractions still. The colostrum from your breasts transitions to milk. The hormones are still there. The risk of postpartum depression exists. You learn more and more about your baby and engage in taking care of them day by day.

Childbirth is a whole spectacle no matter how you delivery. A lot goes into it and the recovery. Officially it’ll take about 6 weeks to be fully recovered from the c section. This is the most in depth I could explain

Categories
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!

Categories
life Self Love and Personal Growth

Obligatory End of the Year Post

Time is an illusion, but the start of a new year can be symbolic if you choose to let it be. What better day to draft my last post of the year than on December 21st, the start of the Winter Solstice. This time period can be thought of as the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. If you enjoy this sort of symbolism, it is a good time to reflect on the past year and set groundwork for the next one.

Ah, 2020. Where to even begin. It feels like the first year where everyone around the world was simultaneously forced to slow down, look around, and reset. Some countries fought this harder than others. 2020 in the United States was a mess for various reasons including Covid, Trump, and the presidential election. Many admirable people, both in and out of the limelight, that will have a lasting impact, have died. Everyday life for people changed in one way or another. This paradoxical year has both flown by and been the longest year, at least of my life. so far.

In 2020, we started a new decade. I achieved some of the goals, big and small, that I set for myself the previous year. I got promoted at my job. I finished my last college course and received my college diploma. I got pregnant and moved back to my hometown. I am lucky to have turned 23 and still be surviving a pandemic.

Reflecting on the year, a lot happened but it also feels like not much did at all. Some of the lessons from 2020 I have taken away are reminders from 2019. Some have been expanded upon. Here’s a few of them.

Be Thankful

If you don’t already, you should take more time to be thankful for what you have. I said the same thing in 2019. It’s something to be more conscious of. The parts of life that stress us tend to need our attention. Because of this, it is normal and easy to get caught up in the stressors of life. It is important, though, to actively recognize what we have going for us, especially this year, amidst so much tragedy. This does not mean our lives are perfect. This does not mean there are not problems that need fixing or uncontrollable situations that have or will knock us down. This is not promoting toxic positivity. It is just a reminder that chances are you or I have something someone else wishes for. It is a reminder not to take things for granted.

Toxic Positivity is Bad

Pretending like things are okay when they aren’t will leave you worse off than accepting you are upset. It is okay not to be positive all of the time. It is okay to say something is shitty if it is. Life is all about balance. Sometimes we just need to cry it out and dwell in our sadness. Sometimes we need to stew in our anger before we forgive, if we even decide to forgive. We feel what we feel and that’s human. (How we react may not be justifiable though.) Don’t force yourself to put on a show nor let anyone make you feel as though you’re complaining when you’re expressing how you feel.

Two Things Can Coexist

We are so used to viewing things in labels and boxes. Often times, concepts are explained or understood as this or that. An example that I grew up with is the idea that evolution and God are conflicting theories. Now some things innately have a line drawn in the sand. How can you be pro-life but believe in the death penalty? Those two ideas are conflicting since the death penalty takes away life.

However, I would argue that lots of concepts are not so easily conflicting. Covid spreading in the US can be the result of both government incompetence and human selfishness. If you believe in God, God could have been the designer of evolution. You can hate capitalism and still contribute to it. You can agree the political system needs to change and still vote. Etcetera, etcetera. Life is simple and complex, depending on how you look at it. Not everything is simple enough to be knocked into boxes when concepts can be a spectrum and/or situational and/or dependent on your own ethics and values. This is proved by the spectrum of sexuality, the ethics behind the trolley problem, and the age old question “Is it wrong to break into someone’s house for food? What if it’s to feed your starving family?”

Perspective Matters- One Size Does Not Fit All

I like to think there is the absolute truth and then there are the perspectives of the people involved. Sometimes, those perspectives line up with the truth. One person or both people can be completely off. Both can align with the truth to an extent. One (or both if they agree) can be completely right. We have a tendency to twist the words and situations of other people and project our own insecurities, experiences, and assumptions onto them. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we aren’t. Some of the time, our judgements do not matter.

Since two things can coexist, one size does not fit all. Perspective and intentions matter. “Money does not buy happiness” can mean that money won’t solve all your problems and instantly make you happy. At the same time, having money will mean no more of your concerns will come from a lack of money. Your current problems would be solved and you’d be happy. Your viewpoint and objectivity will determine which way you view the statement.

Say What You Need to Say

I am a big believer that it is important to get what you need to say off your chest. I feel like every year at least one post mentions communication. As I get older, I have come to see the importance of clear communication. I have learned to sit on my feelings and thoughts about a situation and communicate them if they continue to affect me. Whether it is a good or bad thing is subjective, but I always feel better after I say what it is I need to, whether positive or negative, whether it is received and received well or not. Whatever happens after that happens and it is important to be willing to accept and deal with the consequences of your words. If you’re not willing to, you shouldn’t say it.

Speaking up reinforces the idea that your feelings matter. It can clear up any confusion. It shows you parts of who the other party involved is. Just remember, other people’s feelings matter too. If they express discomfort with your words or tone, consider shifting your approach if you want to salvage the relationship.

People Come and Go

I used to be a pact person. I attached myself to people and, in doing so, subconsciously refused to be comfortable with and learn more about myself. In college, I went on a journey of self discovery and slowly grew out of the need to unhealthily attach myself to others. The mindset did have residual affects though.

It seems like a lesson I would’ve learned by now, but not everyone you encounter will or is meant to stay in your life forever. Social media makes it hard to forget that people come and go and that’s natural. Friendships begin, end, or become distant with time. Acquaintances and past coworkers move on with their lives, as do you, when the common denominator changes. In some ways, that is a blessing.

That’s not to say some relationships won’t be long or even lifelong. I’m still friends with people I met eleven years ago, in middle and high school. My dad is still friends with people he met in middle school. My mom still talks with her college friends often. I believe I have met and will continue to meet people for a reason, but not all of them are and will be meant to stay.

Boundaries are Necessary

Establishing healthy boundaries with people is a necessity. Knowing what lines you don’t want crossed and what lines not to cross can prevent a lot of arguments. It helps everyone involved feel comfortable and respected and be on the same page. Learn what your boundaries are. and then stick with them. Some of them form with time. Some are specific to certain people or situations. A boundary could be not lending any more money to a person who keeps asking. It could be not being available all the time. It could be not allowing someone to talk to or treat you a certain way. It could be ignoring work calls when you’re off the clock. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for making those boundaries. Don’t let anyone guilt you into allowing them to cross those boundaries. Don’t let them make you feel bad for enforcing those boundaries.

Anxiety Can Be Manageable

My anxiety became a little more constant at the end of the year with my unexpected pregnancy and all of its symptoms, Covid, the shutdown and decline of the hospitality industry (my major), and the bubble that comes with social distancing. With anxiety it can be second nature to have a spiral of thoughts that lead to a wave of fear and worry. I talked to a mental health coach, courtesy of my job benefits, and learned the root of where my anxiety comes from: the unknown of the future and not being or feeling in control.

She taught me to actively be aware of and change my thoughts when I felt overwhelmed. We discussed ways to cut off the spiraling thoughts and shift directions by literally doing something else instead. She helped me see that, like with concepts, with myself and my life, it doesn’t have to be this or that, all or nothing. You can start working on parts of a goal without finishing the whole thing in one sitting. Having a few setbacks doesn’t mean everything is going to shit. Your projects don’t have to be 100% perfect to be shared, especially on the first go around.

Most importantly, she helped me realize I need to be more aware of and live in the present. Worrying about the future, though seemingly natural to me, does nothing. Doing so is based off of assumptions, not absolute truth or reality. It wastes time and energy and forces you to live through a situation twice if it happens to come to fruition. Accepting and releasing fear, accepting whatever comes, knowing I’m equipped enough to handle it, and believing everything will work out in my favor are all things I’ve been and will continue to work on.

We’re All Different

Not everyone will treat situations the same as you. Not everyone will treat you the way you would treat them. Releasing the expectation that people will handle things the same way you do makes life easier and will help prevent the feeling of betrayal.

Also, the fact that we’re all different plays into the subjectivity of situations. Some people are content to be in the situations they are in. Just because you say you wouldn’t be or want to be in that situation doesn’t mean a) you won’t ever be there and b) that person is unhappy in that situation. We all need to work on not projecting, assuming we’re always right, and being judgey of others.

Final Thoughts

A few more things to leave you with before I end the last post of 2020.

1. Clean up your social media, especially by unfollowing celebrities. It can help your mindset. Also set app limits.

2. Set goals for the new year. It’ll help you get an idea of how you want the year to go.

3. Celebrate your wins. It’s not bragging as long as you watch your tone. You really accomplished that, possibly in a pandemic. It’s worth celebrating.

4. People’s opinions really don’t matter. It can feel like they do but they only hold as much power as you give them. At the end of the day, it’s your life. If you’re cool with it and it’s not offensive or hurting anyone, including yourself, do and say what you want.

5. People can make it seem like you are different than you are to others. This is on a case by case basis and you have to be able to accurately hold yourself accountable to discern appropriately. Still, sometimes people will paint you in a different light than you actually are in. Sometimes, it’s to make themselves feel better about how they acted or treated you. Sometimes, there’s confusion on intentions and wires get crossed. Sometimes, they’re just assholes who want to feel like the victim because they can’t take responsibility for their actions.

6. What you accept is not always what you think you deserve. It can simply be what you want or are willing to handle. It can be a reflection of your subconscious thoughts and fears. After self-reflection, I realized I accepted less than I deserved because it was what I wanted at the time, even though I claimed, to others and myself, to want something more or something different. I knew I deserved and could have better. People would tell me that to reinforce it. But I didn’t actually want better or more. It served its purpose until it didn’t. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, that depends on your perspective. To me, it just is.

7. Allow yourself to be unproductive without feeling guilty. Productivity is a product of capitalism. You don’t always have to be doing something related to work, money, or your goals. Chill out and relax whenever you can and want to.

8. If you have any regrets, let them go and forgive yourself. You wouldn’t be who you are or where you are without all of your experiences. You might say that’s the point of your regret, but regret won’t change anything. Accept what’s happened, show yourself grace, and make movements forward.

A lot can change in a year. A lot has changed for me this year. Securing my college degree was the end of a cycle. Giving birth by the start of the new year will be another one. What are the chances life would align symbolically for me like that?

I recommend you reflect back on the year and take note of how you and your life has changed. I would avoid going into the new year with unrealistic or pessimistic expectations of how it’ll go. Don’t assume it’ll be as taxing as 2020 (don’t speak that into existence), but don’t think everything will return to the way it was (because it won’t). Set your desires for the year, and then just live day by day. You never know what’ll happen.