This year I spent NYE with a shipload of sailors… real sailors. Shanties and all. I will never forget that
Apart from that, one of my favourite parts of the New Year is my new year letter to myself from the year before…
Let me explain…
Every year I write a letter to myself to read in exactly 1 year. January 1st is a convenient time to write this letter since everyone else is so motivated about starting new things or self-improvement. (I’ve kept this resolution for at least 5 years!!) It’s not that I don’t have friends that I write to myself (I promise, I do! There’s a reason I’m not reblogging everything!). This letter from the past is a great reminder that I’m not the same person after 1 year. We grow, make mistakes, learn, love, get our hearts broken, achieve, fail, and get back up. The process is beautiful.
What do I write to myself? I ask myself questions… years ago I remember reading a previous letter asking whether or not I was married… that’s hilarious. Anyways, I write about my job(s) or lack thereof, the hobbies I entertain myself with, and even predictions I have for myself in the next year. In 2013 I predicted that the current job I have now would be a character-defining factor in my life, and BOY, that’s the most accurate guess ever! It’s my first full-time job, and getting a wacky creative to tie herself down to a desk for 8 hours a day is like pulling teeth from a rabid badger.
This past year I road-tripped across the U.S. with my best friend, lost my dog, Sammy, got my first promotion, painted on stage/in public for the first time, watched my brothers graduate from college and high school, and made two new best friends. A lot happens in a year and it’s too easy to forget unless we reflect…
I highly recommend doing this since it provides a sense of perspective. It shows you how much you can grow in a year, and even how you learn best. It teaches you that it’s ok to take risks once in a while. Writing these reflective letters can inspire you to live more whimsically or to invest more time in relationships rather than work.
Here are some topics to write on if you’d like to give this a try, but don’t know where to start:
- Your highlights of the year
- Big achievements (graduation, career, new car, etc…) and failures
- Travel, adventures
- Friends, family and relationships
- What you hope for in the new year
- Questions you’d like to ask your future self
- Personal growth, worldview?
- Top 3 life lessons you learned
Some handy tips: I use Google Drive to store my letters in one doc so I can go back and read letters from years before if I desire. Plus, I won’t lose it and I can access it from anywhere with internet. To look back at events and choose my highlights or memorable moments, I go through pictures and even Facebook posts. This is incredibly helpful as you’ll constantly be surprised how much you achieve in a year!
Do you write New Years letters? How has that been going for you?
I’m usually ruminating on things I’ve learned while driving. It seems like a good use of time. Plus it keeps me from being frustrated from other drivers.
I realised last night behind the wheel that insecurities that I pump in my heart through my veins don’t just keep me from achieving more, they’re also damaging to the relationships around me, especially in the long run. Ah, the journey of life…
When my insecurities manifest to actions that don’t identify with who I truly am, it’s to protect myself, but in doing so, there’s a good chance I’m being manipulative.
Say my neighbor offers to cook me dinner because I lost my job and she’s feeling sorry for me. I could turn it down for a number of reasons: 1) it’s too much trouble for her and I don’t want to be a bother (false humility) 2) I don’t want to feel pitied (pride) or 3) I’m not worth her time and effort (self-hatred). These aren’t the only possible reasons one might turn a kind gesture down, but we’ll stick with these for now. The three reasons (and others) listed aren’t the facets that hurt my neighbor however. If I say no, and then put on a facade of optimism about employment in my response and I’m expecting her to leave me alone. I know how she will react and I am inducing her response by creating an persona that I don’t actually have.
While my enthusiastic no-thanks-I’m-doing-great-see? response will probably not physically or emotionally hurt my neighbor, it’s still an act of falsehood in an attempt to trigger an expected outcome from someone else. That, friends, is a form of control, no matter how sweet it looks in its straight-cut bangs, bow-tie flats, and peter-pan collar.
Not convinced? New scenario: I’m the president of the photography club in my college and a new person arrives. I flip on the PR-personality: no matter how crappy my day was or exhausted I am, I am fun-loving, inquisitive about everything in this newbie’s life (OMG, you do yoga too? I LOVE yoga!), and I am ready to party. "We should, like, hang out or something." In reality: I have no idea who this person is, they’ve never seen me before and we have no investment in each other. Plus, I hate yoga. I just want to get another member in the club, because… being in the club will make them happy, right? And it’ll make me look good because I think I need external approval to be happy, my drug a la insecurite. Or maybe I can just be me, let them be them*, welcome them and let them decide if they want to come back next week.
My behaviors that rise because of my insecurities (extreme politeness, brash sarcasm, silence, over-bubbliness, super-extraversion, the list goes on!) are methods of control, especially if I can guess how others will react to my behavior. If this is true, acting out insecurity is no different from manipulation, except the insecure one is usually fooled into thinking that he/she is only affecting himself/herself.
No, it’s not a cardinal sin—in fact, people do this all the time! Have you ever told someone you bumped in to “Hey we should catch up some time!” when you have no intentions to follow through or initiate? Maybe you’ve shrugged off your own needs to hide some hurt or avoid healing. And we all lie to the telemarketer when we want them to stop selling us their new organic soap. I know it’s not the worst thing I could do to another person, but I think when I’m working with relationships, control is not a good asset to have in my inventory. We can get away with these subtle manipulations and live happy, healthy, yoga-doing lives (I don’t actually hate yoga), but it makes it harder when important situations arise and you need to be honest, vulnerable, and genuine. Honesty and trust are the most important currency in your relationships. Don’t be poor.
*Quote of the day: "How about you let me be me, and I let you be you?" –Jason Westerfield