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. 🙂
I really liked this post and I think that you touched on some very important points about how we can change our lives. We have to MAKE change happen and we have to MAKE ourselves happy 🙂
Looking forward to reading your resolutions! Let’s hope 2010 is great for the both of us and blows 2009 out of the water!!
I hope so too! 🙂 Happy new year!
Seriously Em, while your nature is the same, you’re a totally different person now than you were last year. I’m so proud of you it’s hard to even out it into words properly.
❤ I hope you know how big of a part you played in making my life so much better 🙂
sounds like you’ve overcome a lot and thanks for sharing! i’m not sure if i had anxiety, necessarily.. but i had the same sorts of thoughts and setbacks as you. particularly, what if i’m too quiet? and fretting about how i look, if i’m fat, etc. but yes, i was very much stuck in my own little head rut in 2008 as well! so i relate a lot to this and feel that 2009 has been the biggest life changing year for me also! and 2010 WILL live up to that because i plan on doing more life changing adventures like live abroad. 😛
I’m really glad to hear of your growth and it sounds like 2010 is going to be even more amazing. I seriously can’t wait to hear about all your adventures this year.
This is such an inspiring post, I loved it! 🙂
Thanks for the nice comment on my blog by the way, I’m never averse to a compliment.
Thank you! 🙂
Very well said — and funnily enough, I didn’t realize my brain had a term for it! I’ve noticed I’m having a harder time making friends here in TX, especially since the weight gain, because I have a running commentary in my brain that convinces me that anywhere I go — someone is mentally remarking on my weight. Or my clothes. Or my hair. Or my makeup. I’m so convinced that everyone is thinking terrible thoughts about it, that I’m flat avoiding new people or new situations altogether. I’m so afraid that everything that’s “me” (like greeting with a hug, sending a random text of appreciation, buying gifts for no reason) will just annoy people that I’ve kind of stopped BEING me. So I hope 2010 lives up to be the “Us” year we’re all gunning for it to become! =)
I hope in 2010 we can both stop worrying so much about what other people think – I’m so glad I “met” you this year and I wish I lived in TX because I’m sure we’d be wonderful friends!!
Until you experienced a TX summer LOL. Then you’d be like OMG WHERE IS CANADA!?!? 😉
I think you have come up with some great resolutions so far! 🙂
Thanks! 🙂 I’m working on some more tangible ones – like learning to drive (gasp!), being healthier, that sort of thing…
What you’ve written here is something I wish I could someday write about myself. Your little fears are still something I wish I could get over, but it absolutely gives me hope that someone’s overcome them. 😀 Anyway, thank you for the comment you left on my blog. You better believe I’m adding you to my Google Reader simply because I kind of see a little bit of myself in you from what I’ve read so far, haha. Anyway, I’m rambling again. Happy New Year!
Oh gosh, thank you so much – I feel like I really had to write about this from the other side because I remember not 6 months ago how crippling it was to just live in constant fear of what other people were thinking – I just hate the thought of anyone else living that way that I just kind of hope someone might read this and feel hopeful – you have no idea how much it means to have read your comment, and I hope 2010 is an amazing year full of growth and good things for you. I’m definitely adding you to my reader too – happy new year!
Haha me too, I’m still ‘refining’ the resolutions/List I want to stick to. Doesn’t particularly bode well but these things cannot be rushed!
Completely with you about resolutions though, it’s a matter of jumping that hill of self doubt isn’t it? If there was any e-quivalent of a hug I could give you right now, I totally would. You shall have to suffice with a smile 😀
ps Dr Who, Dr Who, Dr Who! Seen it yet?
Big e-hug to you too!! And I’m JUST finished downloading it, about to watch it right now! Got my tissues ready….
Sounds as if you’ve already made some incredible strides. Making resolutions for me has never been something that “stuck” changing little by little however is much more doable. Best of luck dear conquering everything on your list.
I don’t think you can look stupid when you eat, so I’m going to say you’re good. Good luck with the resolutions!
Wow, this post really spoke to me because I’m a lot like this. I’m always, ALWAYS worried about what other people think of me. And I’ve stopped seeking social opportunities because I’m so afraid of what people will think of me. It’s more of am I being funny enough, will people make fun of me for stupid comments I make…to the point it’s just not worth it. And I really need to cut out the negative talk and just get out there! But it’s really, really hard.
I totally understand. I felt the exact same way, EXACTLY – I wanted to badly to be at ease in social situations, to be the funny one or the one people called to talk to or hang out – and I let myself get so upset that I wasn’t without doing anything about it. It was very scary – but I found that if you take little steps, it’s easier to take bigger ones because everything always turned out fine. I hope you can overcome those feelings – it would be absolutely wonderful to see your liberation in the new year 🙂 *Hugs*
I love this post so very, very much. You inspire me!
As usual – great post. You are such a talented writer!
As far as the insecurities thing, it is something I have always struggled with. I have often wondered – ‘wouldn’t it be nice if we saw ourselves like our friends see us?’
I’m putting my 30 before 30 list together and can’t wait to start crossing some things off my list! 🙂 I think 2010 is going to be a great year!
I think so too – and I love your 30 before 30 idea!! I think we’re way too hard on ourselves sometimes – and I think all too often it’s realising that people DON’T see us in the same harsh light with which we paint ourselves is the first step to being happier and worrying less 🙂
Here’s to a GREAT 2010!
I like how you’ve confronted the very real hesitation in everyone’s mind when contemplating changing all the things in their lives they dislike – the intimidation. The fear of the unknown and the anxiety that can sometimes come when we step out of our comfort zones. But it is only when we stretch our current limits that we’ll find strengths we didn’t know we had. 🙂
Precisely and very well said 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks for this post. I’ve been dealing with anxiety myself, and it’s so weird to me that sometimes I don’t even know how to talk about it. I can’t really explain to people why things that are hard to them I don’t worry about, but silly things like making a phone call or sending an email sometimes make me sick with stress. Or sometimes after I get home from social events, I replay all the events in my mind, wincing at everything I said and did.
I’m glad you’ve found some peace and I’m working toward the same. It’s amazing how much easier it gets once you have some momentum.
Happy New Year!
I know those feelings exactly, and you’re right, it is hard to explain to people because it feels like nobody else in the world has these worries and fears. I’m really happy to hear you’re working towards peace and breaking free and I wish you all the luck in the world!
There is a verse in Proverbs that I have written on my white board that says “A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.”
There is nothing like writing down what you want do, become, and then looking back on them wondering why you waited so long to do them. It is a great feeling. Congratulations on your progress and this great post.