Grateful, Blessed: A Year in Review

Yes. I know the year isn’t over yet. But it’s #2020 and I don’t think there are rules anymore. So I’m throwing caution to the wind. It’s an understatement to say this year is not what we expected. The last couple of years I have had a word that’s guided me. The first few I forgot part way through the year, I couldn’t even tell you now what they were. But this time my word has stayed with me all year: grit. Even when I haven’t realized it in the moment, grit has been with me–I’ve seen it surface in hindsight.

And so I’ve been doing an assessment of my year and what I’ve learned. I truly believe part of the reason we’ve experienced this shit show of a year is to remind us to slow down, to listen, and to learn more. And I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been more comfortable coming into my own during this pandemic, go figure, and it’s pushed me to my limits more than once. It’s let me try out many versions of myself, some which were updated throw backs to high school or college. But I realized that none of those versions of Shannon were the right versions. And so I keep seeking, growing, learning. I know more and more what I don’t want in life–honestly I think we learn this a little more

  1. You dictate your own learning. You can choose to look the other way when lessons are in front of you. You can close your ears and pretend the world has it out for you. But who does that help? I think instead it’s important to learn from everything we do, every interaction and moment. Because it helps us keep stepping into the world and showing up. Day in, and day out.
  2. Take people at their word the first time. No matter what you want them to say instead, take them at their word. And when what they say isn’t what you want to hear, be open in communicating that and determine whether that means: 1) you both will make a compromise or 2) you will walk away. Because giving in completely isn’t an option. It only damages you, and stunts your growth. And it will come back around in full force and bite you in the ass.
  3. Some people will refuse to hear you or communicate. Some of this is because not everyone communicates well together. That’s a part of life. Sometimes people would rather ignore what you are saying. Some people just don’t have the capacity to hear or understand you, no matter how clear you are being. This can be excruciating. It can. But there is only so much you can do and then you need to move on.
  4. Physical touch is important. I’ve always been a touchy feely person. Always (that’s why one of my love languages is physical touch). Granted, I’m pretty selective about it (I have to feel comfortable in the situation). But social distancing and this pandemic has reminded me how, as humans, how important physical touch is for our growth, development, and mental health. There have been two specific times during quarantine that I’ve had thrown in my face that physical touch goes high on my list of ways that I connect with others–these experiences have been interesting to move forward from–strange even. I can’t even imagine what our collective mental health will look like with this continued lack of human (physical) connection. But we persist, eh?
  5. Connection is like a drug. When I care about people, I care about them deeply. Once habits or consistencies have been formed, I get wary when it changes (hello, enneagram 6). But I see the good in others, to a fault. And I don’t walk away from people easily. Especially those who have (for whatever amount of time) provide safety, security, and attention. And when I know I have to move on (or someone else or something else chooses to move on first), its crushing and it pushes me into survival (maybe abandonment) mode. So I just latch on harder. Which usually causes more of the same problems. But what can I say, I like attention (we all do, in some form). I’m working on being “better” (we are all a work in progress). But woah…
  6. Maintain your boundaries. Even when you think there is something or someone for which you want to shift them. Don’t shift them. If you’ve grown and want something different or have learned something, great, then you can make an informed decision and shift them. But don’t do it to appease someone else. Your boundaries are there for a reason. And not everyone is going to understand them (or respect them). But that’s on them, not you. Stay strong–and oh by the way, it’s helpful to know why you have those boundaries too. Knowing the why makes maintaining them a whole hell of a lot easier. Which leads me to…
  7. Know your why. This has been one I’ve been working through the last several weeks. Why do you show up in the world like you do? Why do you support people the way you do? Why are you in the profession you are in? Why are you with the partner you are with? Why do you stay? Why are you feeling how you are feeling? Why do you make the decisions that you make? Why? It’s helped me a lot with perspective. To know deep down in my core that there is a reason I do what I do and act how I act and go after what I go after. There are things I want in life, and it has been eye-opening to approach them from a place of “why do I want this” or “why do I pursue this”. Knowing your why gives a place to return to, a place to keep taking the temperature of situations, a true north. And it forces you to keep being honest with yourself.
  8. Not everyone stays forever: sometimes that is your choice and sometimes that is their choice. And neither of those feel great. This one is extremely difficult for me. I’m very diligent and deliberate about the people I let into my life. When someone comes in, they quickly become a mainstay. If you’ve gained my trust, I give deeply. And so it’s difficult when people make their exit. The memories and “what ifs” abound. But you have to stay present, because you can’t change the past and a future of “what ifs” isn’t real.
  9. Memories can be difficult. But you can remember what was without wanting what didn’t come to fruition. Memories are hard. They can be full of grief and sadness. They can make you wish something was different. But they can also remind you of really positive things too. Memories shape us, and reshape us. They help us hold ourselves and others to the light. The challenge is letting the good memories stay without fooling yourself into something that can never be.
  10. Change is good. Change is hard. It throws us into the unknown, it pushes us to our limits. But none of us were built to be uniform, the same over time, one-dimensional, or simplistic. Change means unlearning old habits (generally “bad” habits). Sometimes those habits are deeply rooted in childhood dynamics (or are a result of past experiences). Sometimes they are really difficult to spot in yourself (until you see them, and then it’s all you can see). And often times they are tough to overcome or move through, but the change…the getting to the other side. That is worth the pain and hurt and work that goes into it (I have to keep telling myself this, it helps me get through).
  11. No one will hand you growth, it’s something you have to seek all on your own. And change allows us the opportunity to grow. Growth helps us keep becoming our true selves. But you have to be open to growth, and learning. No one else will make you do it, they are too busy with their own lives (as they should be). But stagnation is not okay–not for long at least. You have to advocate for yourself. You have to keep on your grind. You have to wake up every day and put one foot in front of the other. You have to keep going because there is no one else who can do it for you.
  12. Other people can see things in you that you can’t (and you can see things in others that they can’t). This has been a God send for me throughout this year. People who can see things in me that I’ve forgotten, ignored, or never noticed. People who remind me of my strength and my worth and my abilities. I’ve learned I need to listen more: when they share their hesitations, when they build me up, when they ask questions. They have a different perspective. They can see signs that you can’t see. Don’t just brush aside their opinion because you think you know the situation better (and don’t make excuses)–I’m just learning to take a step back when someone shares their insight…to digest what they say and reframe what I am feeling (because my feelings are not always just my own). Hindsight is 20/20, but also your people can oftentimes see it before you can.
  13. Some will keep you around merely for the convenience. This I will keep rereading and telling myself again and again. Especially in this world’s climate, people will keep you around because they are getting something from you–mentally, transactionally, emotionally, physically. That doesn’t necessarily mean it goes deeper than that (even if they say that it does). Not to imply that everyone is lying about their intentions but there are definitely signs that you can see, vibes you can feel, that show who or what they are under the surface. Trust your intuition, watch the signs. In this climate it is waaaaay easier to be okay with things out of convenience, and dishonesty (or unclear intentions)–because there is comfort in instant gratification, no rules, and no defined trajectory. But I’ve learned not to succumb to convenience–of my own accord or someone else’s. Situations of convenience, though they have nice effects in the moment, never last. Something bigger, brighter, shinier always comes along.
  14. Remembering that I’m an empath and HSP is very important. My emotions are not always mine. That means what I am feeling is also heightened by what is happening around me (and by what others are feeling). It means that sometimes my own emotions and feelings can be pushed to the side or hidden because of the energy surrounding me. Sometimes I can’t “see clearly” about my own situations–my thoughts are clouded by the other emotions and energies floating around me–this can be good and bad. But I have to remember to stay in tune with myself, my being, my core. And I have to remember the magic that being an empath and an HSP adds to my life. It adds to the lives of others too. But sometimes I have to remember that as only 15-20% of the population not everyone knows what this magic is our how it operates inside of a person. Sometimes we have to slow down and explain to others.

Maybe it’s ironic that I finally finished this post today. Ironic because today is (was?) my mom’s birthday. And she continues to teach me so much. She continues to help me grow and be my rock. Perhaps the universe is working because it makes me view all of this from a different light because it’s her birthday. A silent reminder, a deeply felt celestial nudge, a quiet whisper spoken in my ear “there is always something deeper to see. There is always light here. You, my child–my goofy, and witty, and intelligent, and caring child–you are loved and important and enough. You have learned and you are growing. Do not silence yourself. Do not stop seeking.” I will keep learning. As my mantra says, “more of what is meant for me”.