Recently it has become trendy among influencers and lifestyle guru’s to select a theme word or phrase to act as the focus point of the coming year. It sounds a little hokey and new age-y, I know but there is some merit to the idea if you approach it in the right way. Last year, I picked the word grateful. With gorgeously designed gratitude journals popping up all over the place and the word grateful being worked into so many things, it seemed like a good selection for the year to come.
But was I truly grateful?
However, in practice being grateful is not as easy as it is on Thanksgiving. Yes, I know people say,
“I am grateful for my family.”
“I’m grateful for my home.”
I am grateful for this amazing fish taco.”
That is all well and good but it totally takes the meaning of grateful and waters it down to a word akin to like.
But when things are not going so well. When your life is throwing you curveballs and is it so easy to be grateful?
“I am grateful for my jerky boss.”
“…grateful for the pain of grief.”
“I am grateful for this sadness and depression.”
…said no one ever.
In this I struggled with the word. If you are truly evolved you can see the lessons in the ups an downs of life and be grateful for them. Or maybe those people are not so evolved and are lying about it. Making them just as ungrateful as the rest of us. Either way, I just wasn’t there yet. I put pressure on myself to try and be like all the lifestyle personalities throwing around the word grateful. Trying to be “that person,” the one who could see beyond the sad, grief and sorrow. To see the good and appreciate it all. I just didn’t. I was just me. No matter how much I wanted to be better, more insightful, more grateful. All I could be was my flaw-filled self.
What I really felt
Happy, sad, upset, cheerful, hurt, angry, grieving, loving, annoying, numb, comforted, rushed, tired these are some of the emotions I felt but grateful was not on the list. That was not truly how I felt most of the time. It might be wrong to say because, yes life is a gift. I get it we have limited time so appreciate it.
Sometime when you just feel bad or something bad happens the raw, real emotions surface. All you feel is the “this sucks,” feeling and there is no grateful spin to on that. No one thinks, I should be grateful during this time. They just hold on until the time ends or the feeling go away.
That is the truth. To be truly grateful all the time is almost an impossibility and something worthy of sainthood. When I choose this word I didn’t consider what people who are really grateful have been through, health scares, bad divorces, tragedies. They know what it feels like to have everything ripped away and have battled to get it back.
They have a strength I have never had to test and a knowledge base I don’t know. It was like I set the bar too high and was trying to be someone I am not. Not now anyway. My feelings and actions were not gratefulness or in appreciation for my life. It was more an attempt to escape how I really felt. To imitate someone else instead of admit to being me.
What a difference a year makes
So with that I learned my lesson about theme phrases of the year. Right now as I reflect on the person I really am I recognize what a difference a year makes. A lot of the fire in me last year has kind of burned itself out. My life like everyone else’s is growing, changing and evolving. Family, and friends have migrated in and out of it. Some left in peaceful, gentle ways but some left me broken.
Many times this year I have felt underwater trying desperately to bring my head above the surface, only to have a sense of being submerged again. Eventually, I stopped coming up for air. Depression, it does that to you. I have spent a lot of this year trying to figure out how to be me again. Realizing only recently that I can’t.
Life, like I mentioned before, it changes you, stretches you, transforms you into something else. Something new. So no, I won’t be the me I was last January. The me full of lists, plans and far too many goals. Never again, will I be the same person, but really it is ok. This is part of remaking myself. We have to take apart what was there. Let go of who we thought we were, to form ourselves into who we are now, today, in this moment. That is why, for this year my theme phase will be “letting go.”
Where will this take me?
There is a lot to that. But unlike grateful, I have a much clearer direction of where this will take me. It means letting go of people who are toxic and harmful to me, letting go of old hurts, of trying to be everything to everyone and nothing to myself. Shedding the skin of who I was trying to be. This means letting go of activities I knew never fit me no matter how bad I wanted them to (Sorry Biz Ladies, Beachbody you were wonderful but I have to let you go now.)
Most of all, I have to let go of repressing myself for fear people won’t like, love, or respect me. Saying sorry all the time even when I have nothing to be sorry for. Feeling guilty and responsible for situations I never caused and can’t fix. Mostly, I need to let go of the constant fear of judgement, and over emotional emphasis for what others think of me. My phrase this year seems like a lot of work because it is. But really it is all about unclenching my fingers, healing my thoughts and well… letting go…