This is the second year of putting out my yearly reflections for the world to judge, relate to, and/or learn from. This year I learned a lot about myself and how I connect with others, how I can help others and myself. This was a year filled with putting myself out there, relearning the word “no”, and spending more time on things that really matter. Hang on, I need a glass of wine for this.
I named last year ‘The Year of Sun and Rain’, because it was full of highs and lows; always one end of an extreme. This year is ‘The Year of Wind and Stars’, because I have allowed myself to let go of what I THINK my life should be and just letting it happen, letting change flow like the wind, embracing the unknown. With that I have had clarity, like a clear starry night, and have moments where it feels the stars have aligned, like I’m where I’m supposed to be.
Most people that know me know I am not in love with my career. It is all over my blog “rants”. Last year I was thirsty for making more time for creativity and travel and felt held back by my career. Through networking and many conversations with inspiring people, I have learned that my career does not have to hold me back while I figure out my purpose.
A quote I enjoy by Jen Sincero states, “If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse”.
My excuse has always been my student loans and lack of time with my career as an Occupational Therapist. I have taken some big adult steps by going into my office and advocating for myself and making my needs known. Who’d have thought you might get what you want just by asking? I now work less and have more freedom. I consistently have Fridays off to devote to adventures, or me time, or creativity. This has decreased the claustrophobia I felt at my job. By talking to others about their careers, I have been able to see there are more benefits to my job than I originally liked to admit; the flexibility, job security, travel opportunities.
When I meet people, I like to ask what they do, followed up by if they enjoy what they do. You can tell pretty easily if they are telling the truth. I’m finding there are a lot of people that feel they have found their purpose and enjoy the heck out of their job because of that. I have not found my purpose yet, but I feel it’s on the horizon. I spent so much time this last year searching for a box to put myself in, a career I could change over to that checks my selfish boxes. “I want to work remote, I want to make good money, I want to do something creative”. Obviously I didn’t find anything. Why? Because I’m trying to force my purpose selfishly. If I focus on doing what I value and what I’m passionate about, I believe that positive energy will lead me to my purpose that will ultimately benefit the most people and the world, which will in turn benefit me.
Patience is hard. To quote Ursula K. Le Guin, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” This year I will practice accepting that I may not see an immediate path, but if I keep focusing on being my best self, I’ll get there.
I learned a lot the hard way, but that’s the most effective way, right? I ran myself into the ground. Trips stacked between moving twice within Seattle in a matter of a few months. I do not regret those trips (maybe slight regret of Mardi Gras), but I learned that spacing trips out and allowing myself to recover results in more enjoyable travel anyway. In the last few months, I have become more excited about open weekends with nothing planned, than a calendar full of weekend hustle (so this is what late 20’s feels like).
It is so incredibly easy to get caught up in feeling like you have to have exciting things planned ALL THE TIME. But friends, I have learned it’s about quality over quantity. Planning back-to-back sunrise hikes with photographers you’ve never met can feel spontaneous and thrilling at first, but shit gets old. I put in my time. I networked the absolute hell out of 2018, and now I can sit back and maintain those connections I feel are worth it. I met some amazing people this year. I’m not saying I’m closed off to making new connections in 2019, but it’s not going to be me reaching out!
This segues into another important lesson I learned this year; saying NO. Not all the time, but if you are not stoked on something and are just doing it because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings?? Reconsider. There are very polite and respectful ways to say “no thank you.” I drove an hour by myself to meet up with two women I have never met before to go on the rainiest hike of my life. I knew the weather was awful, that there would be no reward of views, but I felt like I’d be letting them down if I bailed. I felt run down for almost an entire week after that hike. I’m glad I was able to meet these two women, but we just as easily could have rescheduled something for better weather.
These lessons both fall under the overarching theme of my year: STFU and listen. Listen to your body, to your mind, to your gut. Stop overplanning so that you don’t have to be alone with yourself and realize things need to change. Phew. Feels good to say it outloud and move on.
You guys, my blog-rant on dating is one of the top 3 most viewed posts on my entire blog. It makes me chuckle for a lot of reasons. I mostly laugh because the blog post was me just about ready to throw in the towel again on dating. I had focused on self improvement, friends, and travel all summer and decided to try dating apps again. I don’t have to tell anyone how dreadful and draining those experiences can be. So yeah, after being ghosted a few times and meeting up with people I just couldn’t connect with, I was ready to focus on me again. Life is funny that way. When you’re actively seeking something the universe is like, “Nahh honey, not now.” Then you let go and BAM, you meet someone and you’re still pinching yourself to make sure this isn’t a dream.
I am not saying I was not happy before I was in a relationship. I have learned to love myself and love the life I can live alone. I remember journaling once that maybe the kind of person I desire doesn’t exist (dramatic, for sure), but even with that as a potential reality, I had crazy happiness in my life and knew I’d never settle for someone just to eliminate loneliness.
I desire someone that respects me as an equal, challenges me to be better, someone I can learn from (and someone not afraid of 35 miles of backpacking. Redact: not afraid of a disgusting Melissa after 35 miles of backpacking.) It’s like a movie where you flashback through all the really ugly and heartbreaking dating experiences you had and you realize that you needed all of those lessons to be as happy as you are with the person you have in front of you now. That’s not to say that I can see the future and know this is a forever relationship, because I’ve also learned that people change and sometimes it’s not what is best for either person any more. But I have learned that through respect and communication, you can figure it out together.
Through this relationship, I have learned that vulnerability is beautiful. I have learned that love is not a weakness, love is power; even if your heart is smashed into a million pieces later on. Choosing to love is more powerful than holding back for fear of heartbreak and ego turmoil. So, I continue on this journey.
I’ll admit it, I’m a dabbler. I dabble in just about every art there is. I’m not sure if I developed this as a child, as my parents would enroll me in multiple classes over my childhood, but only for a short while; never long enough to get good at anything. Gymnastics, figure skating, voice… or maybe horoscopes are real and the Gemini in me causes me to bore easy, become restless.
Usually my goals for the year draw me away from the arts I dabble in, focusing mostly on practical goals and career oriented goals. This year I’ve made goals that allow myself to dabble. I have a music oriented goal, a drawing/painting goal, photography goals, a language goal. I’m excited to get to work on these!
2018 was incredible. This year took me on my first international trip. I was privileged enough to experience two incredible countries, two new national parks, log more backpacking miles than ever, and make some awesome new friendships. I’m ready for the good, bad, and ugly of 2019. Bring it.