Every year since 2010 I’ve forgone new year’s resolutions – since they never stick anyway – and have instead chosen words to guide me.
From healthcare (2010), wellness (2013), and realignment (2014) to relationships (2012), growth (2015), and purpose (2016), each time I’ve set an intention for my year the universe answered.
By the end of each year I could clearly say, “yup, that word definitely guided me,” but – whether it is because I’m hardheaded or it’s just the way lessons are taught – these intentions also cracked me upside the head with hard-fought wisdom.
The year I set healthcare as my intention, I ended up being without healthcare (while living with type 1 diabetes) until October 1st. It made me deeply appreciate access to healthcare and become a lifelong advocate for healthcare as a human right.
The year I set growth as my intention, I moved states only to be broken up with by the boyfriend I had moved with for his job, catapulting me into a place of rapid self-reflection, soul-digging, and re-establishing who I really was at my core after having slowly lost myself for years. Massive growth followed, albeit in ways I never expected or wanted.
In 2017, I set my intention as voice. This has been a difficult year for many people on a global, national, and personal scale and there were times I feel like my voice was able to lend a dim light amidst darkness.
In response to turmoil with healthcare, I wrote about access to birth control and my personal experience with abortion, and I penned a letter to my local representative sharing my struggle of living without health insurance as a person with type one diabetes. Amidst continued ridiculousness by our government I went on a bit of a rant against Mitch McConnell.
After a truly heart-wrenching murder/suicide in my friends group, I threw myself into talking about mental health, because it was the only way I knew to help my friends. We even recorded a podcast about it on my friend’s show.
I dove into bold and vulnerable pieces about my own promiscuity, the broken family I grew up within, the unequivocal pain of heartbreak, and the odd feeling of never being truly naked because of my medical devices (complete with photos sans clothing of myself). I even went on a massive rant against the “health” documentary What the Health because psuedo-science pisses me off and somehow people think everything you see on Netflix is fact.
For my work in chronic health, I was featured on a variety of websites with guest pieces and I had a hand in a few podcasts. I talked openly about my fibromyalgia, dysthymia, and type one diabetes. I talked about the burnout that comes from life with chronic illness and what it feels like to be a burden because I’m sick.
Oh, and my first book was published in print.
I am glad for my ability to speak and write and put hard ideas and emotions into clear words. If all my words can ever do is give someone a “yes, that.” sigh of respite, then I will consider my work as valuable as I wish it to be.
But I also literally lost my voice (several bouts of intense strep throat at the beginning of the year), temporarily lost part of my vision (which was terrifying and still unexplained) and – over the course of several months – spiraled into the darkest place mentally I’ve ever been. I wasn’t broken, but I was about as bent as I could be.
Much of it came from how extraordinarily hard I am on myself – I am always willing (read: forcing) myself to be okay when it is perfectly reasonable if I am not. It comes from a place of intense over-achievement because my health makes me deeply aware of my mortality and my upbringing makes me feel overly responsible for peacekeeping and the well-being of those around me.
Through the work I’ve done, I realized that the kindest thing I can do for myself is to let go of that need to constantly striving. So rarely do I let myself just be, or let things go as they will.
So in 2018, I won’t have a word. I’ll let my purpose lie purely in taking care of myself as best I can. The mantras I now wear on my wrist will be my only guide:
You are enough.
Remember who you are.
What is for you will not pass you.
That last one will likely be my most needed reminder – what is for you will not pass you. Because of course I have plans. But I can let them happen rather than force them. I can allow the lessons rather than coerce them.