Like most people (I like to think that I’m not the only one that does this) I make grandiose goals for myself. Its not even something I do at the start of a new year as a resolution, but just in general as a way to motivate me. So I struggle whenever I don’t meet the expectations I set for myself. It is very unlikely that I will stop this habit any time soon, yet even with the challenges thrown my way and my disappointments (of which there were MANY in 2019), I took the time to celebrate the small victories I had in the decade that was my twenties.
Given my history with anxiety, depression and suicidal idealization (all of which are topics that I hope to cover on here soon), I never expected to even make it to my current age, let alone enter another decade of life. And that’s what makes 2020 and turning thirty so frightening to me.
Even so, I have a whole new set of goals in mind for this year and the rest of this new decade. I figure sharing some of them will help keep me honest and maybe motivate anyone that may be starting the year off on a bit of a low point to look at what comes next as chance for self-growth and greater adventures.
1.) Travel more (even if it means I have to go by myself).
I have a list of places I want to go and things I want to try and experience in said places, but I have yet to actually do much of it for fear that I will have to do it alone. I have traveled alone a couple of times, and I’ve managed to have fun. However, I actually like traveling with other people; I just feel like it makes trips even more memorable. (Also, let’s be honest, traveling with a companion helps keep hotel costs a bit lower.) So I’m going to make those travel plans anyway, and if a friend or two can make it, great! If not, well, I’ll bring them back a nice souvenir.
2.) Give dating a try.
Ok, so during this holiday season, I actually managed to meet someone I find interesting and we’ve been on a couple of dates since. As someone who has very limited dating experience (TBH the last date I’ve been on was back when I was still in grad school in 2013), I’ve considered the concept to be a bit intimidating. Thankfully I’m at a better place now when it comes to issues with body image and self esteem than I was back then, so I figure that dating this time around won’t be quite as stressful or painful. I may be wrong, yet I figure it wouldn’t hurt to find out.
3.) Make REAL career-moves.
Let me explain with some context. Back in 2014 I was homeless for the second time in my life, this was immediately followed by 2015, when I got laid off from a position I only had for 8-weeks, which lead to the horror that was 2016, when I worked 5 part time jobs, 2 of which were free-lance, so I didn’t have a steady cash flow coming in and was always way behind on rent so as you expect, I was in and out of housing court that entire time. Ironically, the connections I made at the job that laid me off in 2015 helped me get the job that I currently have. Long story short, most of my employment decisions have solely been centered around keeping myself and my family as far away from poverty and homelessness as possible.
I put my career goals to the side and convinced myself that getting a paycheck was all that mattered. And while I have applied for different career opportunities, financially speaking none of them come close to matching (or exceeding) what I make in my current role. Recently, a friend called me out on letting myself settle like this instead of fighting for what I want and helped put things into perspective for me. I’ve always say that if I could get paid to write for a living I would be the happiest person in the world and its high time I make an honest effort to make this a reality.
4.) Let go of toxic perfectionism.
“An overachieving, perfectionist addicted to success” – this is how I was described at one point last year. At the time I just rolled my eyes, saying that there were far worse kinds of addictions and there wasn’t anything wrong with working hard for what you want. I won’t deny the fact that I do have a need to be as close to perfect as I can manage and how I do this is subtle to the point that only my closest friends notice and will acknowledge. Of course this is by no means healthy. This kind of self -critical lifestyle just increases stress, anxiety, depression and leads to inevitable burnout due to a lack of proper life balance. I stay up well into the early hours of the morning conducting research, taking seminars online, working on blog posts, submitting job applications, apartment hunting, doing some more freelance social media consulting or editing work, or even doing mundane things like organizing my room/desk.
When I was still in school I used to joke that I would sleep once I got my degrees, now I say, “I will sleep when I’m dead,” because in my mind there is always something that needs to get done and I shouldn’t rest until I do. It wasn’t until I found myself physically unable to get out of bed after a 4-day straight all-nighter session (for the second week in a row) that I realized this isn’t something I should continue doing. Since then I have taken steps to change, like actually going to bed instead of taking 1-2 hour naps before getting up to go to work, taking breaks, even when I feel like I don’t need them, not letting myself talk down the successes I achieve or putting myself down for “failing.” And most importantly I’ve started asking for help instead of trying to get through everything on my own. As you can expect, this has been a major undertaking considering this is a habit built over the course of a lifetime, yet with some professional help (aka therapy) I have no doubt that I’ll manage to overcome it.
5.) Let myself feel all the emotions.
2019 for me will go down as the year I cried the most – which was a lot for me because as an empath, I’ve never been comfortable with expressing myself emotionally. In fact I internalize everything until I either shut down or sometimes lash out if provoked, sometimes to people who are not directly involved with the situation that got me to that point. I hold back on crying (whether it be out of sadness or anger) because I know the minute I start it will take a lot to get me to stop, and I view my anger as something I should consistently apologize for since I know people have other things to do than listen to me vent. As for feelings of happiness, while it is probably the one emotion I indulge, I tend to limit that too, mostly because half the time I don’t believe I deserve it and I don’t want to get too attached to something that may be fleeting. What can I say? I had a rough upbringing and it shows.
Anyway, in 2019 I found that I had too many things bottled up at the same time and all it took was an unexpected incident at work to get me to break, in the arms of a co-worker that I wasn’t necessarily close to no less. She was nice enough to let me cry it out and she was the one that told me to let myself “feel all the emotions.” I don’t think she realized how impactful that was but it did get me to realize the significance of having emotional awareness. Yes, I ended up crying for most of the later half of 2019 as a result of this, however, it also helped me process situations much quicker and figure out my next move – that’s progress!
So here’s to 2020! You’re not getting a “new me” but rather MORE of me. I hope you’re ready, because I am.
Is there anything you’re looking forward to in 2020?