Every year people say “Out with the old, in with the new!” They say goodbye to the departing year and welcome in the new one. Society asks “what’s your resolution?” expecting that people will declare their shortcomings and promise to try harder in the coming 365 days to better themselves. They advertise “New Year, New You!” While I can say I understand the appeal of the tradition, it has never made much sense to me.
If you feel as though there are pieces of your life you’d like to change, why wait for a specific day to start working at it? If you’re on the flip side and find yourself pleased with who and where you are, why criticize yourself looking for something to change? Now, I can admit that there have been years of my life that I don’t care to revisit. And I can say that there has been a New Year’s Day or two that I have said “This year is going to be better”. But this year I find myself almost sad to see 2013 go.
In 2013 I turned 30 which, in its own right, is a big deal and not just because it’s the big 3-0. My whole adult life I have waited to turn 30. For some unknown reason I always felt that I would finally have myself figured out when I turned 30. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, or fate, or crazy female intuition but somehow I think I have managed to make that come true.
After about a year of debate I left my job in September of this year. In the process I lost a friend of almost 18 years, her husband and their 3 kids who referred to me as Auntie. At the time it was heartbreaking but it didn’t take long for me to realize the amount of toxic energy I was leaving behind. Within six weeks I started to realize what it felt like to have peace.
By staying home and caring for myself when I needed I became a better wife and mom for my family. I realized that if I hadn’t left that company I never would have stopped putting those friends, and the company’s needs above my own; regardless of how it affected my health. Burning myself out at work meant being too tired to participate in my children’s lives the way I wanted to. It meant being unable to give the other relationships in my life the attention they needed and most importantly I was neglecting myself.
The problem was I traded in burning myself out at work, to burning myself out at home. I felt guilty sleeping in when The Hubs had to get up and go to work. I felt like I needed to keep the house clean and have all the chores done so he could relax. After all, he worked all day, supporting the whole family now on his own. What right did I have to sit around all day?
It took a while, but I started to realize that in order to be the best version of me I had to cut myself a break. So I started allowing myself to sleep when I needed to sleep, and started letting go of things I really shouldn’t do. After all, it’s not going to kill my son to vacuum for me, or my daughter to do her own laundry.
When I stopped worrying about having a spotless kitchen floor or whether or not my kids should pick up an extra chore my stress started to decrease and along with it, some of my pain. Of course, looking at this from a medical perspective I simply started accepting my limitations. But that’s not the soul of the issue here. The core of this is that in my 30th year of life I started to figure out exactly what it means to take care of yourself.
Not just going to the gym and eating good foods. It’s not just about getting enough sleep or washing your face before bed. It means skipping coffee and shopping with friends when the couch and movie sounds like a better idea. It means keeping those who also have your best interests in mind close, and saying goodbye to the people who make your life messy.
Now obviously I haven’t quit mastered this, and I am sure there will always be room for improvement. But, I don’t really feel like starting over in 2014 so I don’t think I will be throwing 2013 to the curb just yet. Instead, I think I will keep it in my pocket and take it along for the ride.