2021: No Resolutions. No Expectations
This year my only goal is to show up everyday. And yours?
I wrote this article a couple of months ago for one of Vocal's writing challenges. However, I think many of the things I shared are still relevant today (already three months into 2021!). This is a space for honest writing and personal growth, so I really wanted to share these thoughts (if they can help a single person, then it's worth it)….
From the beginning of 2021, I released all expectations about the year. I’m not hoping for anything in particular to happen. Well, except maybe for one thing: recovering my health. If I had to choose something that I want to reinforce this year is “taking it one day at a time”. Just focusing on getting through the day. Every day.
So, if like me, getting through the day is your only goal this year… guess what? That’s totally okay!
From last April until today, my challenge (on top of a global pandemic, of course!) has been dealing with an autoimmune reaction in my body. While it’s not yet clear exactly what it is, it feels like every day it's affecting my joints, muscles and organs. Some days it’s better, some days it’s worse. The most difficult part about it is that it came out of nowhere, all of a sudden, without any hint as to when it plans to go away (much like Covid-19, if you ask me!).
Before living for almost a year with constant pain, I took my health for granted. Not intentionally, but I did. I subjected myself to tons of stress while over-working intensively for three years and doing the same while completing a master’s degree at a highly competitive institution. Having something that I took for granted taken away (temporarily, I hope!), has made me realize all the things that I have to be grateful for in my life. Along with being in lockdown, my situation has also helped me think about the things that matter! Spoiler: it’s not the material stuff.
Some days are harder. That’s normal. So, I don’t expect myself to be happy, motivated or productive all the time. I just try to show up every day. Without ever giving up! I’m just allowing myself to go with my own flow, and not trapping myself in “what I should be doing during these times”.
That is why, instead of resolutions, what I am taking into 2021 are LOTS of lessons from 2020 (and, to be fair, a few years before). I try to leave by them every day, without beating myself up if I fail or have a ‘down’ day. I want to share these with you. I hope they help!
Here are my main lessons from 2020, which I'm bringing into 2021:
Appreciating the little things
2020 reminded me to appreciate the amazing things that I DO have in my life. For example, some days my back hurts, my arms and joints feel stiff, my stomach is bloated and my knees feel weak. And yet… I can wake up every morning next to the person I love, I can see the sky outside my window when I open my eyes, I can walk, I have clean water to shower and drink, I can sing, and so SO many other things! There are so many blessings that I don’t take for granted, especially now.
In a way, I believe that Covid is doing the same to humanity, as my condition is doing to me: Teaching the world not to take the little things for granted. For almost a year now, Covid has taught us to cherish hugs, kissing, social contact, family reunions, going to the office, to university, to the cinema, doing sports, and so many other things. And again, it has especially taught us to value our health. Let’s not miss out on the lesson, and take this as an opportunity to remember what matters!
Resting my body (and my mind!)
I believe that, whatever is causing my pain right now, is a call from my body telling me to “STOP and LISTEN”. The past couple of years, I had periods of time with unbelievable levels of stress, where I completely ignored my body and my mind. I was constantly worried. Worried of not being smart enough to be at a top university. Not being pretty enough to be loved. Not being capable enough to get a stable job. You name it! Add to this, a constant bombarding of beauty and success standards on social media and a bunch of worrying situations in the news. It is madness! And something had to give.
I have come to believe that Covid is doing the exact same thing, telling the world: “STOP and LISTEN”. Maybe that’s our cue to realize what is failing about our world both as a society and also in our inner world. Maybe this situation is making us more aware of our unhealthy habits. It's also making us more focus on the good things, the ones that matter. But to identify all of those, it’s vital that we give our body (and our mind) a rest!
Take care of yourself. Turn off the news. Try to sleep enough. Allow yourself some minutes of silence during your day. Mental health is as important as physical health. Now, more than ever, be kind and patient with yourself.
At the beginning of this year, I found myself surrounded by many clear, ambitious and BIG New Year’s resolutions (or at least that’s how it looked on Instagram, right?). I am in no way against setting goals. I think that’s amazing, and we should all be very supportive of each other! What I realize, is that maybe being ambitious is not what I need right now. And that’s okay. All I have to be right now is patient with myself. I feel like that’s a huge need for most of us today. Unfortunately, we don’t hear this enough: You don’t have to be productive all the time.
I feel like, during these times, there’s an underlying idea that just because we have ‘more time’ at home due to the pandemic, we should use it to be productive (to finally do everything we wanted to do, to go get the life of our dreams). It sounds amazing! And that’s all good and well. But, we need to remember that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic, wrapped in uncertainty, which naturally causes lots of stress, anxiety and exhaustion.
Some days, even just getting up morning can be the biggest achievement. Glorifying busyness is not healthy. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete your to-do list exactly as you expected it. Whatever you can do today, that’s enough. Give yourself a break, you deserve it!
Having no expectations may sound a little pessimistic, but it’s actually the opposite. It’s basically just hoping for the best and then forgetting about it!
The reason that I have no expectations is that I trust God and the Universe to do their thing. It may sound a little 'out there', but hear me out! We call it God, the Universe, Source Energy or whatever feels right (I recently read “You’re a Badass” by Jen Sincero, where she calls it “the Motherlode” and I loved it! By the way, that’s a wonderful, light-hearted and uplifting book if you ever need a laugh and an emotional boost). Bottom line: there's hope in the belief that there is something greater taking care of us.
This quote that I love, reflects this very well:
My goal is to get through each day until things get better. The secret is not fixating on when or how that will happen. This applies both to the pandemic and to my health situation. I'm trusting that all things happen for a reason and that all will be well, in its own time. It’s not always easy. When it gets hard, I just remind myself: I don’t know how, or when. But “this too shall pass”.
My final lesson is: I’m no longer trying to control each possible outcome. I’m no longer trying to make sense of the uncertainty. No expectations. I don’t have any big goals. I make little goals every day as I go. No resolutions. Just showing up every day, and doing my best.
So, Dear Reader, whichever way you choose to go: Kick butt following your resolutions for this year, or kick butt by taking it one day at a time (or both), just know one thing: You’ve got this! ♥️
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