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I think we can all agree that 2017 has been a wild year.
We’ve all been through our own personal ups and downs, of course, and we’ve also been riding the tumultuous rollercoaster of what’s been happening on a national and global scale, too.
This year we’ve experienced new levels of divisiveness, violence, fear, natural disasters, and chaos — greater than some of us have experienced in our lifetimes. We’ve also witnessed inspiring examples of advocating for truth, speaking up with courage, stubbornly holding on to hope, and tirelessly pursuing progress and justice.
If you’re feeling emotionally and existentially exhausted as we’re nearing the end of 2017, I can assure you … you’re not alone. That’s how just about everyone I know feels at the moment.
I have FELT more this year — the highs and the lows, the anger and the empathy, the disgust and the deep admiration, the internal fire and the desire to take a 2-week-long nap — than I usually do in multiple years combined.
2017 has felt like a year in which sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option.
Maybe I’m feeling especially reflective about it all right now because we’re heading into a new year or because I just turned 30 over the weekend or simply because I’m tired and need time to pause and process everything before I gear back up.
But whatever the reason, I’ve spent a lot of time recently considering what I’ve learned about who I am on the deepest level and what I want to take a stronger stand for in 2018.
Here’s what I’ve come up with…
WHAT I’M PROUDLY TAKING A STAND FOR IN 2018
EVERYONE DESERVES A VOICE
As someone who’s had a long journey to greater self-expression, I deeply believe that everyone should have a voice and everyone deserves to be heard. Too many people in this world have been denied a voice simply because of who they are — what they look like, where they were born, what gender they are, who they choose to love — and it breaks my heart.
Things like the recent #metoo movement and the surge of women finally speaking their truth about sexual harassment and assault, however … they give me hope.
Those courageous women who have spoken out over the past few months have inspired people globally to break their own silence about injustice, violence, and unfair treatment, no matter how big or small.
We as a society have a long way to go in giving everyone an equal voice, but I can do my small part to speed up the process. I can use my voice and my platform to encourage others to use theirs. And I can listen to and respect people’s stories, even if (and especially when) they differ from mine.
Because everyone now has a platform — including you. If you have any kind of social media account, you have a platform. If you have coworkers or friends or family or neighbors, you have a platform. Use your platform to share your story and speak up about what matters to you.
SEEING ALL SIDES OF A SITUATION
This year was an eye-opening one in that I realized just how much of a bubble I’ve been living in. Like many of us, I’ve naturally surrounded myself with likeminded people who have similar life experiences as me.
However, I also consider myself to be a curious, open-minded, thoughtful person who is always growing and learning. And there’s only so much you can learn from people just like you.
So I’ve made a point this year of exposing myself to ideas, opinions, and stories that are wildly different from my own.
I’ve listened to all sides of political arguments, heard stories of refugees across the world and immigrants in my own neighborhood, and stayed informed about changes in things I never used to pay attention to like foreign policy, environmental issues, and civil rights.
As a result, some of my beliefs have evolved and others have been strengthened. It’s made me feel more solid in myself and more connected to people around the globe.
I have to say … it feels good to be a citizen of the world, not just my own personal bubble.
I’ve known this about myself for a long time, but this year it’s become abundantly clear — I love spaciousness. Can’t get enough!
There is nothing better than looking at my calendar to see hours — better yet, days — worth of white space. It gives me a giddy feeling of total freedom.
But you know what …
When I don’t set boundaries around my time and energy, all of a sudden I notice that my calendar looks crowded. My energy drains, and resentment creeps in.
I get grumpy … and nobody wants to be around Grumpy Kristen (including me!).
So I’ve learned the importance of setting clear and firm boundaries around when and how I work, what I say yes to, and how many things I can expect of myself in a given day or week.
I’ll admit I sometimes let my boundaries slip, but I’m less tolerant now than I used to be of the overwhelmed feeling I get when I don’t respect my boundaries. I’ve started to recognize that even a drop of overwhelm means I need to set a new boundary (or repair a fallen one). And I get on that fast.
OWNING MY HEALTH CONSCIOUS LIFESTYLE
By most people’s standards, I would probably be considered a health nut. I have a very clean diet (with a few occasional indulgences), I take all kinds of supplements, I exercise (semi-)regularly, and I have regular practices for taking care of my mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
A LOT of my time, energy, and money goes toward my healthy lifestyle.
(This was definitely not always true. I used to eat junk food with the best of them. Back in college, it would be nothing for me to drink half a bottle of wine and wash it down with cheesy breadsticks dipped in ranch, followed by icing-covered cinnamon sticks.)
I’ve been on quite the health journey these past few years
And as I’ve become more and more health conscious, I also became self-conscious of my newfound healthy lifestyle.
I didn’t want to “cause trouble” when having dinner at someone’s house or choosing a restaurant for a date or group dinner. So I’d ignore my body’s messages, stay quiet, eat something I knew wasn’t good for me, and then feel like crap the next day.
I’m finally owning the fact that being an extremely health-conscious person is now a part of who I am. That often means asking to meet at restaurants where I know I can eat something that fits my diet, or bringing food I know I can eat to friends’ houses or family events.
The other day, I brought all of the ingredients and made dinner at a friend’s house instead of saying, “It’s fine, I’ll eat whatever.” She was so appreciative, and we had a delicious, healthy meal!
I’d say my health deserves that level of respect.
WHAT WILL YOU STAND FOR IN 2018?
Here are a few questions to help you figure out what YOU want to stand for in 2018:
- What topics, debates, causes, or ideas light a fire under you?
- What do you find yourself researching (reading about, listening to podcasts about, watching documentaries about, going down the Google rabbit hole about) when you have spare time?
- What are your favorite kinds of conversations to have with people in your life?
- What breaks your heart?
- What gives you hope?
- What’s your favorite way to help people or brighten someone’s day?
- What lessons have you learned / how have you grown because of the personal hardships you’ve endured?
Give yourself a few minutes to write out responses to these questions, and then see what patterns emerge.
Then use your responses to come up with a few things you’d like to stand for in 2018 … and leave a comment to share them with me! There’s something powerful about publicly declaring, “This is what I stand for.”
So did 2017 feel like a wild ride for you, too? Tell me about your experience, in the comments! Maybe it will help for us to all process it together. 🙂
Kristen (& Rachel)