Thursday, December 28, 2017

What 2017 Taught me about authentic living

It’s that time again. It’s time to wrap up this last week of the year with a reflection post. As I reflect on the last twelve months, here are several lessons that come to mind in no particular order.

Shooting your shot doesnt always work out

“Shoot your shot,” they say. “It’ll be great,” they say. Not necessarily. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it basically means laying down your pride and taking matters into your own hands. It’s usually reserved for pursuing someone you are interested in. Well, I did that. I shared some feelings with a friend that I had been holding in for a while and was met with absolutely nothing. No response. Like not even crickets. Radio silence. So, you know, that was awesome. We’ve spoken a few times since then, but it’s not the same. It’s cool though. My take home from it all is to be brave and take a risk rather than to seek any particular outcome. The outcome isn’t guaranteed. Who cares if the normally poised me exposed her awkward inner 6th grader with a botched free throw attempt? Emoji shrug. You win some, you lose some.

Sickness isn’t how you want to get abs

More on losing some, I’ve mentioned more than once that this year I got the sickest I’d ever been. What started as a stomach bug from a taco-themed fast food restaurant, turned into months of digestive upheaval. I unintentionally lost about 20 pounds from the whole ordeal. So, while people have been very complimentary of the weight loss, I only associate it with nausea and misery. I would’ve much preferred to have a bit more body fat and be well, then to be thin but feel sick every day for months. Thankfully, God is restoring my health and things could’ve been much worse. But that was definitely an all-consuming experience- an experience that made me do a major overhaul in the self-care department.

Self-care really is survival

During the summer and fall of sickness, I was forced to make serious self-care changes. I returned to therapy for myself to deal with all the anxiety that emerged from the medical issues. I did a complete nutritional overhaul to aid my healing. I took time off work for appointments and on the days I felt bad. I figured clients would just assume I not get ill in front of them. I mean, yes, there was definitely physical stuff going on. But I also knew stress was worsening things. I had been burned out for years, but it was not until my body starting breaking down that I got serious about change. That’s why I decided to reduce my counseling hours and quit teaching fitness all together. No more setting myself on fire to keep others warm. No more promoting health and wellness in others and neglecting my own. Basically, I’m living by MJ’s Man in the Mirror lyrics: “If you want to make the world a better place, you better look at yourself and make that change.”

Make space for what you want
And in the vein of change, I think the best part of this year has been really clarifying what I want. The past few years definitely led to my burnout because I was trying to do everything. But now that I’ve committed to my health and happiness, my vision is crystal clear. Teaching fitness was fun for a while, but it was never my purpose. I’m a gifted counselor, but that doesn’t mean I’m supposed to serve everyone in need. I can do a handful of things well, but that does not mean I need to pursue all of them in this particular season. I know now that to really operate in my unique flow, I need to live authentically.

I guess that’s how I’d wrap up 2017 in a nutshell- learning to live authentically. Authentic living has been an exciting pursuit. It’s not a perfect life, by any means. As you read earlier, it can come with flops and embarrassment at times. It can also come with uncomfortable indications when you aren’t living authentically. But when you surrender to it, when you fully commit to radical genuineness, emotional honesty, and vulnerability, when you decide to switch directions when things don’t work for you, and forge new paths when existing ones just won’t do…that, my friend, is when life gets interesting. So, cheers 2017. It’s been awkward and amazing and painful and purposeful all in one. I thank you for it all because you've brought me closer to the real me. 

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