I remember opening my laptop back in January and looking back at the last three years of my life thinking that this was the year I had to get it right. And by “it” I mean everything. In my mind at that pinnacle retrospective point I had failed at everything I wanted to accomplish. After thinking for what seemed like forever I decided that this year I would either continue down the same path of failure according to myself, or I would make something important of this year. I didn’t make all of the “resolutions” that I knew I would never keep beyond February. I didn’t revamp the goals I had set for myself year after year, because I truly desired to achieve them in their entirety at some point in my future. I didn’t go on social media rants claiming that “this year would be my year”. Because the truth of the matter is every year belongs to me in some way shape or form. I make the decisions that set the wheels in motion. Every action I take is met with a reaction whether I am prepared for it or not. However I did start off the year stating I wanted to do two things:
a. Be Present & Play More.
Many people questioned this goal that I consistently referred to throughout the year. It may have seemed simple or basic to many but to me it would turn out to be more difficult than I could ever imagine. My biggest struggles have always been the disconnect I have from those around me and myself. With the social media, blogging, the grading, and the lesson planning, being able to sit down to have a ten minute conversation with another human being was becoming all but impossible. From the time I graduated from college I became a detached calculated version of my former self. With less time to care and more opportunities to grasp I was focused on climbing the self imposed mountain to success. And as that peak got further and further away from me as the years progressed, the person I was began to unravel even further into a shadow of who I was and truly wanted to be. I spent three years of my life running on a fruitless road that led to no where. To the outsiders looking in I was successful, I was motivated, I was independent, but best of all I was a master of disguise. No one was allowed beyond the barrier I set up between myself and reality. I only allowed people to see what I wanted them to see and never the full picture. Was I worried they wouldn’t like what they would see? Yes that was one way of looking at it. However I was more concerned with the vulnerability of it all. I was far from happy, and even with constant friends surrounding me, and endless plans on a daily basis I never felt more alone.
When 2013 started I was by no means in a positive state of mind. I was entering the last stretch of my worst teaching year to date, financially recovering from Hurricane Sandy, and just barely “dealing” with everything else life had to throw at me at that time. I didn’t wake up one day and decide today would be the day I change my life. As cliche as my writing can get… no I didn’t have any Sunday morning hallelujah epiphanies. My awakening was far less subtle but just as powerful. I simply decided to stop perpetuating insanity. I was tired of complaining about the same things… so I stopped repeating the same behavior that brought about the same results. I allowed myself to be okay with disappointing others instead of constantly disappointing myself. I started realizing that putting myself first every now and then doesn’t mean I am not a good person and accepted the fact that I can’t and won’t be able to please everyone at all times. Other people’s sadness and disappointment had to take a backseat in order for me to positively progress. I had to step away from the negativity, and reconnect with myself so I could build stronger connections with those that earned them. I stopped giving my time to those who didn’t deserve it or only needed it on the occasions when they required assistance. Instead I focused on balance. Balancing my work life with my home life became much easier once I cut out the unnecessary.
It doesn’t mean there haven’t been extremely difficult times this year, because I have had my fair share of close to almost full mental break downs. The difference lies in my thought process during this reflective time. When I sit back now and think about this year as a whole, the bad does not outweigh the good by any stretch of the imagination. I have felt good about my decisions, my actions, my accomplishments, and the outcomes of most of the situations I have found myself in. There are so many things that I am thankful for, that I have done, and that I have accomplished in this year alone that it is beyond what words can describe. My connection with my family has grown stronger, I’ve gone places I never imagined I would, I did things I never thought I’d do, I took immense risks and chances that reaped amazing rewards. Though I haven’t reached the pinnacle of success that I would like to achieve I made huge leaps and bounds further than I ever have before. But most importantly I found a peaceful supportive balance that provides light even in my darkest hours.
I know that my life is one giant immense hustle that can sometimes crush those in the way. But those that have managed to hang on tightly as the momentum continues to push forward are the ones that I truly am thankful for this year. It hasn’t been easy but it will all be worth it one day. In 2013 I can truly say that I lived, I loved, I learned.