December is always an interesting month for me.
My birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s fall right in a row in the span of two weeks, bam, bam, bam. So during those two weeks (coupled with the cold weather and short days that turn me into a total homebody), I find myself going inward a lot.
Every year, during this end-of-year introspection, I can’t help but ask myself, “What was this past year all about? Who am I now vs. who was I a year ago?”
This year, I feel pretty good about the answer to that question … which is big because that definitely hasn’t always been the case. I’ve felt more “me” this past year than I think I’ve ever felt, and a lot of amazing things have happened for me.
I could probably write you a novella about the personal shifts I’ve experienced in 2015, because there have been so freaking many of them this year, but no one would care to read that except maybe my parents.
I do want to share with you, though, the biggest “ah-ha” moment I had about myself this past year. It’s seriously been a game-changer for me, and I see other people doing this same thing all the time.
THE BIG REALIZATION I HAD ABOUT MYSELF IN 2015
Let me back up a bit to give you a quick snapshot of my life as a kid to put this in context.
Growing up, I was a serious people-pleaser. I’d even go so far as to say I was a total doormat. I so deeply cared about my friendships, and I so intensely hated conflict of any kind, that I would willingly and happily agree to anything they wanted. I was a complete pushover.
My mom has since told me that, when I was little, she worried I wouldn’t learn to speak up for myself or fight fair. (I literally never had a fight with a friend until I got to college.)
It’s no coincidence, then, that I’ve always attracted people I consider to have “big personalities” into my life. Since childhood, the people closest to me (friends, boyfriends, etc.) have been very opinionated, self-assured, outspoken, and unapologetically self-expressed people.
I’ve always known that I was drawn to those kinds of people, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I finally understood WHY I’ve been attracting them my whole life.
It’s not just because I like being around people with “big personalities” who are fully expressed … it’s because I so intensely want that for myself.
I SEE THIS SHOWING UP ALL OF THE TIME
I know I’m not alone in this. In fact, it’s a really common thing to project your own desires onto other people.
I’m confident you know people who are craving something for themselves, but instead of embodying it (which is really scary and vulnerable), they’re unconsciously seeking it in other people.
Or maybe, like me, you are that person yourself. Here’s what it can look like …
- The girl who only dates artists … because, deep down, she wants (but is afraid) to tap into her own artistic ability.
- Or the mom who pushes her kids to learn Italian or take dances classes … because she really wishes she had pursued those things herself when she was younger.
- Or the guy who keeps being drawn to work for start-up companies … because he secretly wants to put his own entrepreneurial idea out into the world.
ARE YOU PROJECTING WHAT YOU WANT ONTO OTHERS?
So how do you know if you’re projecting something you want for yourself onto other people?
Think about someone you really admire, respect, or are jealous of. When you think of them, do you …
… feel resentment?
… find yourself saying, wistfully, “I wish I could be more like that”?
… or think, dejectedly, “That’s great for them, but I’m not the kind of person who could do / have / be like that”?
If you have any (or ALL) of those reactions, it’s time to ask yourself some tough questions. Namely, “Why can’t I admit that I want this for myself? Why am I resisting this?”
THE VULNERABILITY OF EMBRACING WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
It makes sense why so many of us do this. Admitting that you want to express yourself more, or pursue your art, or start your own company … well, frankly, it can feel terrifying.
Allowing other people to pursue your goals feels way safer. The scared, small voice inside of you might try to convince you, “Why don’t you just live vicariously through that person? Let them pursue or live out the things you most want, and then you can admire it from a safe distance.”
Talk about a recipe for resentment and feeling unfulfilled.
You’ll never be satisfied living your dreams vicariously through someone else.
If you acknowledge how much you want it for yourself, then you can no longer stay safe in your comfort zone. You’re going to have to take some serious action, and it’s not always going to be easy or feel safe. In fact, it’s probably going to feel VERY vulnerable.
If you do own what you deeply want for yourself and start to pursue it …
You might fail. You might look stupid and get criticized. You might have to make a huge life change. You might lose money or status or friends. You might embarrass the hell out of yourself.
Those things could happen, yes. I won’t deny that they are very real possibilities.
But here’s what I know WILL happen: You’ll feel deeply fulfilled. You’ll tap into curiosity, confidence, and passion you maybe didn’t know existed. You’ll feel more ALIVE than you have in a long time (or maybe in your whole life). You’ll feel like you again.
MY “WORD” FOR 2016
When I realized earlier this year that I was projecting my desire for greater self-expression onto other people — and that what I really wanted was to fully embody that myself — I felt equal parts excited and terrified.
It’s exciting (and, honestly, a huge relief) to have finally admitted what I’ve wanted so badly since I was a kid. And it’s terrifying to realize that I’m now going to have to step up my game and take some uncomfortable actions.
I’ve already come a long way when it comes to expressing myself — I did learn to fight fair, to speak up when I want something or disagree with someone, and to authentically share my voice with thousands of you each week. I feel like I’m 90% self-expressed, and 2016 is about closing that final gap.
That’s why I’m making my “Word for 2016” — the single word I’ve chosen to capture my greatest intention for the New Year — self-expression.
WHAT’S YOUR WORD FOR 2016?
I really want to hear from you now. Leave me a comment to let me know two things:
- How might you be projecting something you want for yourself onto other people?
- What’s YOUR “Word for 2016?”
My “word” for 2016 is _______. What’s yours?
Kristen (+ Rachel)
P.S. THE PPVE IS COMING BACK IN A FEW WEEKS!
If 2016 is the year you’d like to be able to say, “I finally figured out my passion and took action,” then hop on over to the PPVE VIP page and get on the VIP list. You’ll be the first to know when it’s back, plus you’ll get a $50 discount code when it re-opens!
We hope you’re enjoying your holiday season! 🙂
My word for 2016 is ‘authenticity’ – to have the courage to take this transformed me and let it shine 🙂
What a great word for 2016, Cathrine! Authenticity definitely takes courage, but it will impact literally every area of your life.
This is beautiful Kristen, self acceptance leads to self-expression. Happy holidays.
Thank you, Savoi! Happy holidays to you, too.
My word for 2016 is ‘decisive’ – When I make a decision, I need to stick with it and see where it takes me.
Too often I make a decision, and within an hour, a day, a week, I’m already second guessing myself before I even give it a chance. I did it choosing this word (lol). I’ve been indecisive about this word for a few weeks. Reading your post made me realize that this is the word for me this year.
Another example, about a year ago I started a blog. I have been so indecisive about its purpose all year. I am constantly reworking it, doubting my choice, my direction. Well, just this week I published a new design (Yeah). I told myself that I wasn’t going to make any major changes to it for 1 year. Wish me luck.
Your wonderful post and your writing is so helpful. I often seek out writers and authors because that’s something I’ve always wanted to be. So, now it’s time for me to stop hiding and start writing.
Thank you for your insight (and sorry for the long response).
Beth — I love that you felt indecisive about choosing the word “decisive” — that’s totally proof that you picked the right word! 🙂
What I love about the word “decisive” is that it goes hand-in-hand with self-trust. As you practice being more decisive in 2016 (and prove to yourself that you are, in fact, a very good decision maker!), you’ll gain so much self-trust. That’s a really powerful intention for the new year.
Good luck with your blog, and definitely keep writing! The world wants to hear your voice!
Thanks for writing such a thoughtful comment, and Happy Holidays!
I think my word for 2016 will be “independence” so that I can find a job that relects my values and no one else’s, and also so that I can move to a place of my own.
I don’t think I paid much attention to the people I’m drawn to until I read this post, but the majority of my friends all have their own apartments/houses and I really admire that livelihood. I’d like to do that for myself and move into my own place in 2016.
Choosing “Independence” as your word is really powerful because it ultimately boils down to being true to yourself and making your own decisions. Plus, it ties in self-reliance and confidence, too. I’m certain you’ll get lots of great opportunities to practice independence within the next year!
Wow wow wow…It’s like you’re writing this post about me. Much like most of the stuff I read on your blog. Even this example- pursuing artists and people living bohemian lifestyles -matches what’s happening with me. But I do think it’s a step in the right direction of getting that for yourself too. I think I am taking baby steps by surrounding myself with these new people who live and work what i want to live and work. I am simply always putting off taking that scary leap into the unknown. so my word for 2016 is……JUMP. It’s like im standing on the precipice and know i have to jump to get down, and that it won’t be anywhere near as bad as I think once I’m down there. But I just need to pluck up enough courage to do it. So that’s what i need to do next year. JUMP!!!
WOW Kristen! That was exactly what I needed to read. Sometimes you feel you’re alone on this planet trying to deal with a certain issue (self expression) and you start wondering how people around you can easily manage to express themselves and you admire this ability in them. So it’s time for me to admire myself as I also learn how to express my thoughts and opinions. On the other side, I decided my word for 2016 would be ACCEPTANCE. I want to accept the change that happens in my life whether it is friends who are changing, my job, my interests, my circumstances, YES, I want to acknowledge the fact that change drags you out of your comfort zone but if you have the will, desire, and determination, you will fight all the negative ideas and welcome this change in your life and ACCEPT and receive the new opportunities.
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