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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

Oh, ‘Rona

I remember being in grade school reading history books and listening to lectures about the Great Depression and the Civil War. I vaguely remember being a child during 9/11, only to learn more about the event and its effect when I got older. And in those moments I wondered what additions would be made to those history books during our lifetimes. What would we live through that would shape the course of history?

If I didn’t write anything about the coronavirus I would feel ridiculous. We’re in the middle of a pandemic! What’s been said is true: we’re living through history. Years from now we could look back at what is now on the news and what we personally capture during this time. The outcome of this will change the way people think and act if it hasn’t done so already. At this point in time the US has surpassed Italy and China in the number of documented cases. Daily life has been impacted in noticeable ways. The state and county you live in can affect how drastic the changes are because the nation isn’t on the same page yet on how to handle this. Some states and counties in the US are in full on “shelter-in-place” mode. Others only have “non-essential” businesses closed and strongly recommend social distancing.

A lot of businesses have closed their doors. People have been laid off because businesses either don’t have the money to sustain themselves and support their employees or simply don’t want to pay out their employees. What’s even worse is not everyone has been promised a position back when this is all over.

During this time, I’m lucky to still be employed and to work for the company that I do. For the most part they’ve gone beyond my expectations in how they’ve reacted to the news and how they’re treating us as employees. Unfortunately, most people aren’t in this position.

You have the people weren’t and may still not be taking this seriously, thinking the precautions that have taken place are stupid. They are coming up with conspiracy theories including that the virus is man made. And then there are the people who have taken this crisis to the next level, by acting out of selfishness: stocking up on supplies and food they don’t need or going out to the beach to enjoy their spring break.

So far here are my takeaways from the situation:

1) This is scary because of how rapid the spread is and how many people have died in a short amount of time and will die by the end of this. Tens of thousands of people dying from a single source is wild.

2) Many things will change when this is over such as how we interact with each other, how we keep up with personal hygiene, how grocery stores operate, and maybe even employee rights.

3) Mass groups of people in fear is terrifying. This is something I already knew but seeing it play out and seeing people react the way they have is scary to watch.

4) We crave control and sometimes the best way to have control is through denial. As long as we don’t believe something to be true, it has no power over us. In this case, we also gain control through buying out grocery stores and trying to resume our normal routines until we legally can’t anymore.

5) We also like to have choices. Not being able to go anywhere except the grocery story and work is making me, at least, feel claustrophobic. It’s not even so much that I want to go out and do things because I like my alone time and I like being home but not being able to make that choice freely is what has been getting to me.

6) It’s nice technology has developed in a way where we can play games and socialize online and through social media. We can learn about other people’s experience from hundreds of miles away.

7) Social media and reading the news online can be overwhelming. Having this type of access to other people can lead to the spread of misinformation which only creates more fear. Also, hearing about coronavirus all the time can be drowning. It is necessary to take a break and to walk away from it all.

8) This is time we can use to look into our inner world. I was talking to some friends on the phone and one of the, had said that she read somewhere, “I didn’t realize how much everything was a distraction and now I’m left without those.” This is a great time to lookg at yourself without the titles of jobs, material possessions, and other people. Work on yourself and help your mind, body, and soul grow.

I don’t think we will ever know if we’ve done too much or too little when this is over. I have heard something that was reassuring, however. That is, it is better that we overreact and say we did too much than to do little and say we didn’t do enough. That’s something I’ve been holding onto.

I hope we come out of this more appreciative of our lives and embrace what we have taken for granted. I hope we come out of this with more consideration and respect for others. Coronavirus is an event we have all collectively been impacted by. Let’s not make each other’s lives more difficult.