If all that I learned in 2014 could be summed up in just a few points they would be the following:
1) Vulnerability takes work, but the rewards are completely worth it
2) Risks can pay off far more than expected, and cause far less pain than feared
3) Sometimes the truths we think we know about ourselves are really masks we have created to protect ourselves from danger
4) People are always both better and worse than we think
Looking back now, it is almost funny to me to think that I thought myself an Ice Queen, untouchable, hard-hearted. I am none of those things, although I learned how to appear that way because I was terrified of being found out and consequently being hurt. It’s sort of impossible to take a leap if you’re too busy convincing yourself and others that you are incapable.
So much of the good that happens in life comes from determination and intention. Outside factors such as location, privilege, socio-economic status, ability, and access certainly contribute to a person’s life, but I firmly believe that the most important factor is intentionality and outlook. Can a positive attitude outweigh not being able to pay the bills? Absolutely not. I’m not saying go blithely forth into the world without paying mind to the practicalities, or to reality. Stuff happens. But on the other hand, life should also not be an Edith Wharton novel. Stuff does happen, and people have choices.
I have decided that once I graduate from my master’s program it is not likely I will immediately pursue licensure, however I have found that the program has solidified my belief in self-efficacy and the power that one has over one’s life. I will never forget a particular Rogerian Person-Centered statement I first heard in my Individual Therapy class, “You have within yourself all of the resources that you need”. I do not want to demean anyone’s situation, I know that we often don’t have the power we need, and that when abuse is involved everything becomes mal-aligned. That being said, I feel that the culture in which we live enables selfishness and a lack of self-awareness and self-responsibility. I’m not saying we should hate on the Millenials, or write a dirge about how technology killed society. What I am witnessing is a trend of people blaming external factors for their lives, and giving up on themselves.
This breaks my heart. For whatever reason, it has become “easier” for people to adopt a stance of defeat rather than one of confidence. (Energetically, however, I would argue that it is far more draining to give up personal power).
Success doesn’t come without work, but it also doesn’t come without trust.
And, often, just when you think your work is done that is when it is really beginning.
Shields can be necessary, but letting them down is such a blissful relief! Speaking as someone who developed an art out of raising shields, it is utterly refreshing to not have to always use them.
So now, in this new year, I set my intention to continue to allow myself to be vulnerable, and pursue growth even if it is terrifying. I set my intention to make meaningful choices in life. I set my intention to be more giving to and supportive of others. I set my intention to live my life fully, and to relish the present rather than yearning for an intangible future.
I hope that you choose to thrive in every way that is possible for you in 2015, because I fully intend to do so.