Thursday, 10 January 2019

8 Things I've Learned About Myself In 2018

I've been thinking lately about how much life  changed last year, without having really changed at all.

What I mean by that is...physically my life looks the same. There have been no major changes like there have been in the years babies born, no house move to speak of, no huge career changes...same old, same old.

So then why is it that I ended 2018 feeling like an entirely different person to the one I was at the start?

2018 was a year of self-discovery for me in a lot of ways. And I'm ending the year with interests and passions I hold incredibly dear, which just a year ago were not a part of my consciousness at all.

Strange how quickly and dramatically we can grow and change as people, without even noticing it much ourselves.

So allow me to re-introduce myself and the things I've learned about myself to you.

I am a feminist

It might sound stupid to many people, but I truly never realised this before. I've devoted time this year to reading more about feminism and feminist topics, seeking out causes and issues that have challenged my sometimes narrow outlook on life and it has truly opened my eyes to the things I was previously blind to.

2018 has also been the year I've had my eyes truly opened to the patriarchy and it's everyday influences on life - which has both enraged me and spurred me on in equal measure

My body and looks are not important factors in my life

Once upon a time, the tone for the start of a fresh new year would be set by how many pounds I'd gained over Christmas.

I worried constantly about my weight, my dress size, my appearance...I fretted about outfit choices and spent so much time, money and energy trying to reach my "Goal weight" and get the body that would make me happy.

Except it never did.

Finally, in 2018 at the age of 37, I freed myself from those chains and I can truly say that at last I understand that my appearance is the very least important thing about me. It is not all I have to offer in this life time, in fact it's not something I care to offer at all.

Am I showing kindness? Am I learning? Am I growing as a person? Am I contributing positively to the world? Am I raising good people? These are the things I care about...whether or not my dress size is acceptable to society is not a worry I care to waste a single second more of my short life time on.

Politics matters to me...and it should to everyone

Prior to this year, I was one of those people who'd say "I don't really understand politics so I dont bother with it" or state that I don't often vote because "They're all as bad as each other anyway".

The truth is, I didn't know anything about politics - as a working class woman I believe I was never really supposed to, I was certainly never taught a thing about it in school. And I'm still trying to learm...but the difference is that I WANT to understand more now.

And I realise that there is no point in feeling frustrated with the many injustices of our society if I'm not prepared to understand where and how decisions affecting us all are being made, and using my vote and my voice to at least try to correct it.

I have a long way to go and an awful lot to learn, but after 37 years of turning a blind eye - I'm reading, I'm voting, I'm writing letters to MPs about issues I care about...and I'm passionate about doing and understanding more. After all, politics will have a huge effect on the world my children are brought up in...I need to know I'm doing my part.

I am a spiritualist

I've always known this if I'm honest, but I've always cared too much about the opinions of other people to freely admit to it but finally I can say I don't care anymore.

We're all free to follow the paths we choose to in life and spiritualism is something that enriches mine.

It brings me calm, it brings me comfort and it's increased my confidence too.  What can so wrong with that?

I have no time or tolerance for toxic people

For years I've endured toxic relationships and dealt with the heartache and feelings of rejection and low self-worth they brought me, all in the name of not offending people. Of not wanting to make waves.

Finally I feel able to walk away and cut those people out. Life is too short to surround yourself with people who bring you down and wish anything but good for you, even if those people are relatives. If someone makes you feel bad over and over again, then it's ok to walk away from them.

I'm not over my past

I mistakenly thought that a few months of therapy would be able to cure me of past traumas, and the hurt they left behind in me.

I realise now that this was wrong...yes I've learned how to better handle the emotions I have, and the triggers and anxieties left behind but I recognise now that I will probably always have certain triggers and emotions around these experiences.

I have a lot more work to do to process everything and I fully intend to invest more into that. There's a great article from BetterHelp about the benefits of therapy.

Small talk and surface-level friendships drain me

I'm the sort of person who craves deep connections and friendships. I want to have conversations about the meaning of life and the workings of the world, I want to know what makes you tick and what you're passionate about, and If I'm going to have friendships I want them to be genuine and honest, worts and all.

Surface-level friendships, pleasantries and small talk leave me feeling mentally drained for days afterwards. 

I'm someone who needs to say no often, and that's ok 

You hear a lot about people being encouraged to "Say yes more!" though taking every opportunity that life throws at you and grabbing the bull by the horns is the key to a happy and fulfilled life, and the only way to live it.

I believed that for a while and I strived to live that way...but guess what? It's just not who I am.

I am somebody who NEEDS alone time. I need a lot of down time, I need long periods of calm after short periods of chaos. I need to be able to take my time over decisions and mull things over. And I need not to have a lot on my plate at once.

I NEED to say no to opportunities often, for my own wellbeing. And recognising that and allowing myself to do it without guilt has been vital.

So that's what I've learned about myself this year. I'm ending 2018 feeling as though I finally know myself better than I ever have before, and I'm comfortable with the person I am.

Here's hoping 2019 brings even more personal growth.

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