It’s the last day of the decade. I already did my recap of the noughties, and so having satisfied the need to look back and reflect on the past, it’s time to look forward at the year, decade, or however long, to come. I kind of made a whole batch of resolotions earlier in the year, and as I sit here with 2009 rapidly fading faster than I can hold onto it, I’m trying to come up with some resolutions I can take on in the new year.
This year has been the biggest, most memorable, most wonderful and life-changing one yet. So 2010 has a lot to live up to. But I realised this year that I wanted to grow as a person, to push my boundaries, to figure out who I really was and start putting things into action to be on my way to being that person. I’ve been thinking recently about a list I made earlier this year – I don’t think I ever blogged about it, but I certainly wrote it down and handed it to Sweet, who said he’d happily help me as much as he could to achieve every single thing on it before the year was out. It was kind of a New Phase Resolution list – I’d spent months and months trying to cope with an anxiety disorder, and one night, after a big old cry, I rolled over and declared my resolution to break free. He offered words of support, but also cautioned that big changes didn’t just happen overnight – and being the stubborn, impulsive girl I am, I told him yes, they bloody well could. I made the List, and set about changing things the very next day.
It looks so ridiculous now, but if you’ve ever experienced severe anxiety, I’m sure you can relate. I remember my first (and only) visit to ADAM, where I was shown a page of a book called Dying of Embarrassment; a list of common thoughts people have when experiencing this type of thing. Things like “I look stupid. Incompetent. Everybody’s judging me. I’m not good enough. I’m too fat. Nobody cares about me.” I remember taking one look and bursting into tears on the spot because in all honesty, that kind of self-deprecating mantra was stuck on a continual loop around my head – it became a habit that defined my life, and ultimately landed me numerous sleepless, tear-filled nights and a fear of socialization.
I’d make plans because I felt I needed human interaction in order to feel wanted, only to cancel them last minute as a result of my fear of being judged. What if I look stupid when I eat? What if they think I’m boring? I’d sit silently in meetings at work. What if I’m too quiet? What if I say something dumb? I was thrilled when I got my own office at work, so I didn’t have to go sit in the lunch room where I’d spent the first 5 months of my employment not eating for fear of spilling/looking stupid. It all sounds so far-fetched and ridiculous, looking back – but at the time, the smallest thing – even taking the bus and the back door getting stuck – filled me with fear.
Recently, Sweet and I were driving along, probably talking about what we were going to resolve to do for the new year, and I asked him if he remembered the list. “Of course,” he said. I remembered some of the things I’d put on it that I’d wanted to be able to do comfortably, without that sinking feeling, turning a rather flattering shade of crimson, shaking, or my heart beating up a storm:
- Go to meetings and offer opinions
- Stand up in front of people and teach a class, or give a speech
- Sing in front of somebody without reservation
- Sit at the back of the bus and not be afraid of doors not working
- Look in the mirror and feel somewhat attractive
- Eat dessert without feeling fat and beating myself up
- Write regulary, and write well
- Host a party without the fear of nobody coming
- Make (and keep) plans with friends
- Get through one day without thinking something negative about myself
These are a small handful of things that were on the list. And now, from the other side of making that decision, they look so ridiculously small. Totally manageable and not a big deal at all. I posed the question to Sweet: “Is there anything left?” In the last six months, I’ve gone to meetings, spoken up, and initiated new practices. I’ve said grace, I’ve sung songs when musical inspiration struck, and I’ve done photoshoots with confidence. I’ve started writing again without feeling like nobody cares what I have to say – thanks to you guys for reading, I’ve gone from 260 page views for the month of October to almost 3,000 in December alone, and it makes me feel like maybe I am actually good at something. I’ve seen friends regularly, eaten a tonne of cake without worrying how large my thighs are going to be, and am teaching my own class every week. I’ve stopped worrying about things I can’t control, and have spent my time and energy in an entirely more positive way.
It’s astonishing how much can change if you make the choice to just do it. And this is why I’d asked Matt to guest post for me at the end of the year, at a time when people are thinking about everything they didn’t like about the year passed by and resolving to change things for the one peeking its head around the corner. “This year’s going to be different,” people say at this time of year. People make all sorts of grandiose declarations and by the time Christmas rolls around, wonder what the heck happened. So when you’re making your resolutions, I hope some of you can really take that to heart. You can choose to live your life however you want to. Just decide to change everything you don’t like about your life, no matter how intimidating – because I’ve never felt better, and I can’t wait to face the new year with newfound strength, belief and optimism. I’ve also had a great deal of support from close friends, loved ones, and people like you. It’s because of these people I stopped looking at what I was, and started believing in what I could be. When life throws us difficulty, we have a choice to go one of two ways – there’s a quote I’ve always liked that seems quite appropriate for any situation: Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you choose to react to it.
Even if the path looks treacherous – the end result can make all the difference in the world. So here’s to a new year, full of new choices, new hopes, and a new drive and determination to make all wishes come true. Happy new year to all of you, and thank you. Your readership and comments have done more for me than I think most of you know, and for all your stories, support, and friendship – thank you.
And I promise I’ll quit slacking off and come up with some proper New Year’s Resolutions before the week’s out. 🙂