A couple of years ago, I decided that rather than create a New Year’s resolution, I would instead choose a verb to inspire my year. My verb for 2012 was push.
I suppose I picked a good year to choose a verb like push, because this year I had to dig kind of deep to not totally give up on some (or all) of the things that are important to me (writing, being a good friend, being successful at work, working out, not living in squalor). I don’t know that I would say this year was hard, exactly — a hard year involves far worse problems than anything I experienced this year — but it was a year that was different than any other I’d had before. It felt like a year of growing up and of going uphill.
“Serious” is really the best word I can come up with to describe it. It was just a year when small stuff started to feel less entertaining or amusing and big stuff — things like money, health, job security, women’s rights, family, community — all began to affect me and influence me in a deeper way than it had in the past few years. It’s not that this year wasn’t fun or good, because it was, and it’s not like growing up means you can’t have fun anymore. It’s just that this year included a lot of hard conversations, feelings of vulnerability, raging at the shit our elected officials were doing, and critical thinking, and getting through those things, in addition to normal everyday challenges, did take an extra bit of oomph.
As I wrote in my post about my verb one year ago, the biggest area in which I wanted to push myself was with my writing. Beyond that, I wanted to push myself socially, as well as in terms of my health and at home. Now that the year is over, I can say that this verb was never far from my mind. I can also say this: holy shit, I am exhausted.
Health & home
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while have probably seen the ways I’ve been pushing myself in these areas throughout the year. I like writing about those topics because I feel like it’s a nice opportunity for all of us to commiserate on the fact that this shit doesn’t always come easily. As I worked on pushing myself in my writing, I had far less time to devote to grocery shopping, cooking, yoga, and laundry, but I made myself use the time I did have in those areas. Had I not made “push” my verb, I can honestly say that I would be sluggish, heavier, crankier, and living in a roach-infested dump right now. My verb was the only thing that kept me from throwing myself entirely into my writing and saying “fuck it” to everything else. I can’t say I liked having to step away from my computer to make time for these things, because really, I never did at the time, but now, a year later, I can say that I’m really glad I did it. I feel healthy, sane, and confident, and like Eric and I have finally figured out how to be ambitious, successful adults who also manage to eat broccoli on a regular basis. But it took several months of trial and error to really figure it out.
This was also the year that I stopped taking my health for granted. I’ve always been pretty healthy, but after having a ton of ongoing pain in my lower abdomen in 2011, I ended up having surgery in the spring of this year to remove one of my Fallopian tubes. While it ended up only being cysts that were then removed, thus saving my tube, feeling unwell for so long, accepting that I was about to cut my fertility in half, and learning that my health wasn’t as solid as I thought it was was pretty sobering.
Another thing that required a lot of me that I didn’t anticipate at the beginning of this year was buying a house. As I wrote this spring, buying a house terrified me in a way that nothing ever really had before. Committing to a person was fine, but committing to a place was really hard for me. But now, six months after we moved into our new house, I can say that I’m really, really glad we made this decision. Buying this house, moving in, and making it our own solved a problem for me that I didn’t even know I had. It made me feel more confident and secure when it came to pursuing other goals, and I felt much less stressed about where my life was going, because I knew at the very least it wasn’t going anywhere location-wise. It made me a lot more motivated to take care of my health (because I can easily work out at home now) and my space (because it’s not some crappy apartment). So stepping outside my comfort zone in that area was a good decision and I’m really happy that I did it.
One of my goals for this year was to push myself to make new friends in Houston, and while I started off strong in this area, this was the thing that fell by the wayside as I stepped up my game in other areas. This has nothing to do with the people I met here (who are all lovely!) and everything to do with my own feelings on friendship and socializing.
I approached making friends like dating, which was a helpful way to look at it, but that mindset helped me I realize over the summer that I just wasn’t in the mood to court friends anymore. Just like people sometimes get sick of dating and say, “Hey, I’m fine doing my thing on my own and if I meet someone, fine, but I’m not going to seek it out because that shit is tiring,” I kind of realized the same thing about making new friends. Here’s the thing: while I was happy to make friends in Houston, I can’t honestly say that it was something I felt like I needed to do for myself. It was something a lot of other people were telling me I needed to do. I felt like my life was already full of great friendships, including my coworkers who I’m extremely close to and my friends in other states who I don’t talk to nearly enough. So after a few months of really pushing myself in this area and not having a huge sense of “YES! THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN MISSING!!!” I moved socializing with new friends to the back burner. I didn’t give up entirely, but I didn’t push nearly as hard as I could have because it just wasn’t my priority and I knew that my other goals would have a much bigger impact on my day-to-day happiness.
Beyond these major goals, there was the writing, but given that writing is kind of my thang, I’m going to save that for a separate post!