After the Chaos

Tuesday, January 5, 2021 / 10:51 PM

Since 2017, I've picked a word to inspire the coming year – a philosophy, if you will. In 2017, it was "create," which led to weekly blogs, a podcast, and a burst of creativity across my professional career. "Reclaim" was 2018's word, which served as a reminder to be attentive to my own needs and desires, and not to sacrifice my mental health to please others. I chose "align" in 2019 to try and re-center myself after a year of personal pain, and in 2020, the word was "build" because I wanted to focus on building better and healthier habits, and also building a present that would transform my future.

As chaotic as 2020 was, I hope I did my best to hold "build" in my heart while walking through such a tough year. I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a good person as an adult because I grew up with the idea – as I'm sure many others did too – that adulthood was something entirely removed from adolescence; that being an adult meant the child I was and the lessons learned were put into a box and set aside as a memory once I crossed that magical bridge into "independence." 

Maybe it's more obvious to others, but it took me awhile to see it: growing up isn't about the things we leave behind, but rather about the people, places, and moments that've helped build us, and learning how to carry those things wherever we go. As I packed up my apartment to move last month, I thought about the devastation associated with the space where I lived for 3 years – the corners I cried, the ceilings I stared at, the places I sat to receive bad news. 

But I also thought about the hope I found that was built by the people and the things that have changed my life in both big and small ways: the mirrors where I learned to love myself, the rooftop where I gathered with friends, the card on my dresser sent by a friend at my lowest point. Those are the things that helped me build in 2020 and see that my "word" for the year didn't have to be something I took on alone.

So for 2021, the word I'm choosing is "encourage." I want this year's personal philosophy to be less about myself and more about others. I jokingly tweeted the other day that I wanted to exude "best friend character" energy to the rest of my friends, but there's absolutely truth in it: I don't think I have the energy and charisma to be the main character right now, but I damn well can put whatever I have into hyping up the people around me – especially the ones who've been there for me too. 

I also want "encourage" to serve as a little "note" to myself to continue being gentle with my head and my heart when I'm struggling, both personally and professionally. If I'm going to live my life believing in others, I should remember to also begin the day with believing in myself first.

Happy New Year, everyone. Thanks for being on this journey with me in whatever way you have.

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