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.
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?”
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! 🙂