A few days ago, with glittery headbands on and champagne flutes held high, we welcomed in the year, 2021. I fully believe that when the ball dropped in Times Square at midnight on December 31, our world let out a collective exhale, releasing all the anxious tension of 2020. The last year was in many ways a year of pressing, pruning, and pain. It was a year of uncertainty of health, finances. It was a year of unimaginable loss and suffering and, of crippling anxiety and isolation. It was a year where we realized how connected we are to other humans, on a global scale. The truth was both a source of fear and comfort.
Amidst the darkness and panic of this past year, 2020 was also a time of growth, unimaginable sacrifice, and communal healing.
This past year called us into the deep: to examine our own biases and privilege. We were called to pursue hope when it felt like there was none to be found. We were called to look out for each other–whether it was a neighbor, friend, frontline worker, 6-year-old with a birthday parade, or an elderly relative who needed a handwritten card while isolated from family.
In a year where we had big dreams, we realized just surviving was the goal. Our dreams of getting a raise, bonus, vacation time, travel, all seemed to change in an instant.
If you’re anything like me, when we began 2020, you had a MAJOR list of goals. (To be honest, I was overly ambitious, and my goals took up an entire Word document in 12pt font.) But, once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all of those goals seemed to melt away. These goals were set up to elevate my self-esteem, sense of accomplishment and social media status.
In the absence of certainty, time with loved ones, and sense of “normal,” the pandemic forced me to turn inward. It challenged me to sit with overwhelming emotions and be present with myself. In being present with myself over the last 9 months, I realized the way I had looked at goals and self-improvement, were not serving me.
Maybe you’re like me, and find yourself in a process of unlearning the belief that you need to perform or achieve in order to be loved or feel worthy.
We run at this neck breaking pace chasing after things that we hope will one day satisfy us. Many of us have this idea of “when I meet that person, get that job promotion, loose the weight, or do (insert longing here), then I will be happy!” Then, I will have made it! This kind of approach to life and goal setting, though incredibly normal, often leaves us empty, unsatisfied, and exhausted.
I don’t know about you, but when 2021 is over, I don’t want to look back and measure the year’s success by what I accomplished, the number of Instagram likes I got, or who I impressed.
Instead, I want this year, and truthfully my life, to be marked by the way I made people feel, how I showed up for a friend or stranger, or by how I felt my way through my days, as opposed to numbing and distracting myself from the very emotions that remind me of the life inside of my bones.
I think many of us are walking into 2021 pretty weary. We have endured a time of historical trauma, and we are still coping with the ongoing effects the pandemic in many ways on individual, local, and global levels. Because of this, on the cusp of this new year, I don’t need another ad about a gym membership or my local juice bar’s latest cleanse. What I need is a little self-compassion combined with some connection and courage.
My dear friend, I invite you into the freedom of changing your metrics of success by no longer measuring your worth by your ability to accomplish all of your goals in the new year.
I challenge you to set intentions and to just simply be.
In a world overflowing with fear, how will you be the light in 2021? And when you find your light growing dim, how might you set boundaries and honor your body and spirit in the process of nurturing your flame? In this new year, I challenge you to be present, reflect, and show unconditional kindness to yourself. Maybe that looks like journaling, calling a friend, going on a walk, allowing yourself to cry, putting the emails down, or committing to mental health counseling.
No matter what this new year throws at us, I challenge you to press into the aching within your soul for joy and peace, and to push against cultural narratives of works based worth rooted in new year’s resolutions. And do know, my friend, that you are worthy, that you can do hard things, and that the world needs you and your healing magic now more than ever!