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2021 has been quite the year. It has had its ups and downs. Despite 2021 being a rollercoaster of a year, it has taught me a lot about myself and the world around me. Some of these things were positive, but other things not so much. Below are some things that I learned this last year.
If you had told me last year that I would be running a mental health project where I have to give presentations in front of groups of people, I wouldn’t have believed you because I have always been so shy. But, it turns out I am willing to put myself out there for things I believe in. If you had told me that I was going to be moving out of my parents, I would have made some self-deprecating remark about how I would never have the funds to move out, yet here I am paying bills and doing adult shit. In fact, I even bought a new to me car this year! I never dreamed I would ever be remotely financially stable enough to pull any of this off, I really thought I was destined to live in my parents house for the rest of my life or even homeless in my car. I have really shown myself that I am capable of so many things. Now that I know how awesome I am, I have no problem setting amazing goals for myself.
This year, I have started to do things just because I wanted to. Before, I would have things that I wanted to do, but if I thought that someone might think it’s stupid, I would have just shoved down the desire and not done it. This year, I started to do things for me. One of those things I finally started to do this year was travel. Before, leaving home and my boyfriend to travel made me anxious. But, I finally got past that because I know that I want to see the world. This year, I traveled more than I ever have. I went to the Outer Banks, I went to Oregon with my mom, I went to New Hampshire several times, and Maine several times. Some of these trips were just day trips in New England or just the states over like Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but I started to go explore all of the different places that I wanted to see. I was sick and tired of living vicariously through my Instagram feed and I wanted to experience different places for myself. I even started to explore parts of Connecticut I haven’t before. I have a goal of visiting every state park in our the state. I do these things because it brings me so much joy to get out and see the world.
This one was a tough pill for me to swallow at first. I have always been a bit of a workaholic. I have been known to work multiple jobs at once, partially to keep myself busy and partially because I always felt like I needed to earn and hoard money if I was ever going to survive and afford things. This year though, I learned how to set boundaries that work for me when it comes to work. I have learned the importance of days off. I have learned that I do not need to be working every second of everyday just because I work from home and I can create my own hours. I have learned that working and making money is not the only thing there is in this life.
I used to base my life around how I thought others perceived me. I always wanted to look put together, I always wanted to seem like I had it together, and I was always a little bit weary of my weirdness. This year, I learned to embrace myself, quirks and all. Everyone is kind of weird in their own way. I have decided I do not care what other people think of me. Am I a crazy bird lady? Yes, and I love that for me. Am I kind of obsessed with Machine Gun Kelly? Yes, his music speaks to my soul. Is the Twilight Saga my guilty pleasure? You bet your ass it is and I am not ashamed to admit it. Am I a little bit of a space cadet? Yes, but those close to me still like me even though I constantly space out and I can barely focus when people are talking to me. We’re all human. There are going to be people who don’t understand you, and that’s okay. They might judge you, but pay no attention to them. Their opinion doesn’t matter. Keep doing you.
I used to feel guilty when I was doing nothing. I used to feel like I was wasting my time if I was not doing something productive or meaningful every waking moment of the day. I would literally get anxiety if I was sitting on the couch instead of working or cleaning. I literally used to do a side gig in my free time and I had convinced myself it was my fun time. This year I finally realized that is no way to live. Not only is it no way to live, it’s not sustainable. People need rest, and that is okay. We do not have to constantly be doing something. This year I started to make up for a lot of lost time I spent working my life away. Now, I let myself go out for walks in the middle of the work day if I feel like I need a moment to breathe away from the computer. I’ll also let myself play games on my phone like Candy Crush (because yes I am an old lady) and Pokemon Go (yes, I am stuck in 2016). Watching TV at night used to give me anxiety because I felt like I should be working, but now I am totally okay with relaxing on the couch watching TV with my boyfriend to unwind after the work day. I’m okay with sleeping in and having lazy Sundays without freaking out that we need to be deep cleaning the house or running errands. I have finally learned how to give myself much needed breaks.
I used to define myself by my mental illnesses. This year, I started to view myself as more than just my mental illnesses. Sure, they are a part of who I am, but they do not define me. I am more than my anxiety. I am more than my depression. I am more than my social anxiety. I am more than my complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Once I stopped defining myself as the diseases and their symptoms, the world really started to open up for me. I no longer felt confined by my diagnoses. I stopped letting them control me. I started to do things that I wouldn’t before because I was afraid that my anxiety would prevent me from doing it or because I was afraid something might trigger my CPTSD. I am a person with dreams and aspirations. I am a person who has a lot of accomplishments. I am not just some mentally ill adult. I prove this to myself and others everyday.
This is something I have always known, but it has never been something I am good at actually doing. I used to be such a perfectionist. I thought I had to do everything well and if I didn’t, I was a failure. This year, I learned to remind myself that I am human and it is okay to not be perfect all the time. I am only human. I will make mistakes. There will be things that I am not good at. There will be days when my house looks like an absolute shitshow because I have been too overwhelmed to deal with the mess. It is okay to not be perfect all the time. I have learned to be kinder to myself instead of talking down on myself when I do things incorrectly or not well. I have learned to be patient with myself because there are some things that just take time. If I’m struggling to get something done, I choose kindness and patience instead of beating myself up over it. I spent so many years of my life bullying myself and I finally put my foot down. Being kind to yourself is so important.
What have you learned this year? Let us know in the comments 🙂
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