Happy New Year to one and all! This New Year’s Eve I found myself at a family party surrounded by a collection of my hilarious, generous and entertaining loved ones, then spontaneously trekking out to a late night brewery party. A *Sparkle Party*, actually, which I fully embraced. I don’t usually wear anything without a drawstring waistband after 7:00 and I like to do everything I plan to do out of the house in one go. Once I’m home, and the comfies are on, changing my clothes and leaving again becomes a task just too demanding for me to be willing to tackle. But when somebody makes a special trip to the city and invites me to a Sparkle Party even I, the loungiest of loungers, can be convinced to Go Out.
We had a fabulous time…
Lesson 1 of 2019: Sometimes you have to talk yourself into having fun. It’s always possible, and always worth it.
The weeks before and after January 1st are always abounding in reflection, encouragement, personal growth challenges, goals, dreams and thoughts of how things might be. Everywhere you look there are messages about what the last year was like, what you’d like to leave behind, what should change and what you are hoping for in the year ahead. I applaud the focus on progress, no matter how short-lived. This one stuck out to me:
“Tell the story of the mountain you climbed. Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.” -Morgan Harper Nichols
So many of the people in my life have singled out 2018 as the worst year of their lives. There were seriously heavy events that caused heartbreak on a global scale. More people I know are struggling financially after 2018 than in any year I can remember. There have been some terrifying health diagnoses in the folks around me. This past year is one that most of us are looking forward to moving beyond.
While there are a million shining spots amongst these smudges of grey, and I will always encourage a positive perspective of hope and reframing and learning and gratitude-in-the-midst, there is something to be said for sharing the burdens of our lives. Not only were we created to exist in relationships of support and connection, but constructively sharing the challenges we have faced and overcome is a powerful and beautiful help to others.
Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your successes are inconsequential. It’s easy to look back at our lives and discount the things that we’ve accomplished; to brush aside our hard won victories because we were the ones who achieved them. I have spent so much of my life thinking that I didn’t have anything important to say just because other people led lives that were more interesting, glamorous, powerful, dramatic, colorful and romantic. When compared to saving a multi-million dollar company from bankruptcy, being able to say that I always have at least $20 in my wallet doesn’t matter. Exercising 4+times a week and being able to curl 20 lbs isn’t a huge accomplishment if everyone you’re looking at works out every day and lifts hundreds of pounds.
There will always be someone better than you, and further ahead in the goals that you have for yourself. Which is great, because who else would you look up to? Just as there will always be someone more together than you, there will always be someone coming up behind you, who hasn’t quite gotten to where you are. And you know what they need? They don’t need to hear from the guy who’s already reached the goal and moved on to something else. They want to hear about the person just ahead of them on the path, the guy who remembers the struggle cuz he’s still in it.
I used to think I hadn’t done much of anything worthy of note. Now I see my daily life as a testament to all that I have done. When people talk to me about their challenges with getting healthy, I’m no longer afraid to commiserate and share my personal experiences. I hear constant statements of self-doubt and I’m not too afraid of my own shortcomings to voice messages of empowerment. I see the value in what I have learned, and I’m working to make sure that those lessons can help others beyond myself.
Your story of progress in the face of challenge is beautiful and important. There are people in your life who need to hear what you’ve been up against and what you’ve accomplished. We’re all so willing to talk about minor inconveniences and action movie plots, but we hesitate to be vulnerable in sharing the true struggles and victories of life.
Here’s to a new year of sharing with those in our lives, and letting our stories-obstacles and victories, be heard.