Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Letting Go

I've never been terribly good at looking back in these year-end posts, not necessarily because there was nothing to look back at but because my viewpoint's been too muddled to make much sense of it.  But 2013 has been a watershed year for me personally and I can't help but look back, despite having such a clear idea of what to look forward to, at last.

In 2010 I wrote a Post-Holiday Post detailing the things I anticipated for the coming year. They were pretty safe bets, frankly, but for a while I wasn't sure I had anything that I could add to those thoughts that'd be worth the bandwidth. Thankfully, a little time helped me realize that I'm not still stuck in the same place I was almost four years ago; I'm leagues away from who I was then, just looking back at my younger self from a new vantage point. In some ways I'm closer to who I used to be than I have been in a long time but for the first time I'm realizing that that isn't really a bad thing. It turns out you can't bury the parts of yourself you don't like, or run away from them, or rip them apart; it's only in embracing them that you understand what being a whole person really means. Maybe it's a cliché but learning to let go of a lot of what I thought I had to control is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's a process and a line I'm learning to walk, but for the first time I can see where I've come from with clarity as well as the path ahead, and experience enough to finally make the choices I have to to get there. My past failures and setbacks, the sacrifices other people have made on my behalf over the years, the hard work and perseverance it took for me to crawl out of my own emotional wreckage have all served to put me where I am right now. The present is more amazing than I could have possibly imagined and I am profoundly grateful to everyone and everything that has made it possible.  Even the hard and unpleasant ones.  Anything I managed to accomplish would not have been possible without you.

Just for my own edification, as a reminder to my future self for when I backslide, and because this is my blog and I can post what I want, here's an incomplete list of personal accomplishments and epiphanies from the past two years. Hopefully they're things I either continue to accomplish or move past in the coming years.

  • Important people have left my life and it hasn't wrecked me.  Sometimes their leaving wasn't their choice, sometimes it was.  When it was a choice, it was as much about them as it was about me.  I'm not as toxic as I'm afraid I am.
  • Learn to forgive my younger self and to see her for the angry, confused person she was; love her in spite of and because of it.  She needs it.
  • Try new things, not for the sake of doing so but because I actually want to try them. Stop telling myself I'm just not the type to do them: if I want to do them then I am the type.
  • Come to terms with the idea that I may want things I didn't used to want. Let myself be confused about it without shutting it down.
  • Be confronted by conflicts very similar to past ones that hurt me tremendously; realize that I have learned from my mistakes by proving I can make better choices now.
  • Acknowledge that the traits I've adopted as coping mechanisms have helped me but that I don't need them anymore. Learn to ask for help in figuring out how to let them go when I need it.
  • This moment is not forever.
  • Recognize when someone is a person I want in my life; take the risk to let them know and make the effort to prove it.
  • Recognize that I am worth the effort and anyone who doesn't value me as a whole person isn't someone I need to invite into my personal life.
  • Nobody is obligated to like me and if they don't it isn't a personal failing on my part. Sometimes people just don't get along.  Don't get grudgey about it.
  • Learn to recognize that my standards are very high and sometimes unfair. See and accept the imperfect reality of a person instead of the ideal I project onto them.  They are who they are and aren't obligated to be the person I want them to be.  Be as forgiving of others' faults as I hope they will be with mine.
  • Sometimes things like this do happen to people like me. It's worth the risk and the effort, even if sometimes the thing I want doesn't happen.
  • Learn to find the freedom in failure. Stop being afraid to be wrong: it means I'm learning.
  • Own that just because I've been hurt and just because I try hard now, doesn't mean the world owes me anything. Other people aren't obliged to fix me or to be my inspiration to be better: that's my job.
  • Life is too short to waste waiting around for it to happen to me. Go out and become the person I want to be.
  • I am more kind than I remembered. Embrace it, even when it hurts.
  • Remember that I am responsible for how my actions affect others, intended or not.  I won't always make the right call but remember that the harder, scarier option is usually the better one.
  • I can't control my emotions, they simply are what they are. What I control is how I respond to them and the person I choose to be because of or in spite of them. Always choose to be better.
  • You know that thing where I hate it when people lie to me because they want to spare my feelings?  Don't do it to other people.  If I want others to respect me enough to be honest with me, extend the same respect to them.
  • The things I'm afraid set me apart from other people usually only do so because I let them.  I'm not as weird as I imagine myself to be.  Life is happening, choose to be part of it.

Enough navel-gazing.  Stay safe out there and be good to each other.  Here's trailers for my favorite things I've watched from the past few years. Check them out.


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