[Image description: Allison’s cat, February the Cat™, is laying between pillows and a stuffed dog. February is all black with green eyes.]
As 2018 begins to see itself out, it’s safe to say that this year has been full of profound instability; most of which was caused by what felt like a never-ending job search. I’ve spent much of this year learning the importance of what I do for money (and by “what,” I just mean…do I have money to live or not) and where I lay my head every night. Because my living arrangements and jobs were so heavily bound and causes of great anxiety, I kind of lost myself in all of that. I’ve been so heavily concerned with the day to day this year that I’ve lost sight of how a year ago, six months ago, three months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to picture myself as I am now. I spent so much time building up my collection of healthy habits that I’ve begun taking them for granted.
If I had a content schedule for this website, 2017’s theme would have been personal growth and 2018 is what the hell am I doing. I spent a great deal of last year wondering who I was, especially with my very salient identity of student taken away. And as life kept swinging on me, I stepped into my role of a whole-ass-person-with-needs somewhat reluctantly. I journaled. I got a therapist. I made infographics. I spent hundreds of dollars at TJ Maxx. I accepted being very far from my friends and family. I fell in love with my partner and learned what a healthy relationship is. I made budgets and kind of stuck to them. I took baths once a week and exercised. I accepted my impatience. Basically, I did a lot of self-work. And it’s not that I haven’tthis year, but I’ve felt like my emotional or mental needs come at the expense of time I could be using earning money somehow.
This weekend, I got fed up with the unhealthy cycle I was in. I took a step back and realized that I’m in my usual, unsustainable cycle of working nonstop and not even considering my emotional wellbeing. But then I realized, hold up. The fact I’m even able to check in with myself is a sign of growth. Normally, the cycle is work, fill my free time with my partner, break down because I’m inundated with work and my partner, then rest for two days and get back on my bullshit. I can tell I’m growing because I know how to establish and communicate boundaries, and reassure myself that taking a pause is necessary. I know that keeping myself well fed makes me happy. Having a solid morning routine, especially one that involves meditation, makes me happy. I know that a clean house makes me happy. I know that my kitten makes me happy. And knowing what makes me happy is such an indicator of growth because until very recently, I wouldn’t have been able to do so.
This year, because such important pieces of my life have been up in the air, I’ve been focusing on getting all of that settled and thinking, once I do this thing, I can be happy afterwards. But I need to do this thing first. And that’s not healthy! And in fact, most thingsare settled! My biggest lesson from 2017 (I’ve probably said those exact words in every blog post and uh, don’t @ me) was that I’m a whole person. I’m a whole person with needs and wants and I’m the center of my universe. Everything and everyone else is peripheral to that. It’s a step further than the idea of not being able to pour from an empty cup. My responsibility is keeping my cup full because if nothing else, I pride myself on my ability to think clearly. And if I’m not prioritizing myself, I feel that ability to think start to diminish, spiraling into mental health flare ups.
I’ve been in survival mode for much of 2018 and through that, lost some of my connection to myself. I’ve made such massive strides in understanding myself in the last year and a half that sometimes I be forgetting I wasn’t always like this. And I need to give myself grace because even through all that work, I haven’t “arrived” yet. I might not ever. I’m proud of myself for honestly being well in 2018, even through some struggles. Even though I’m not happy every single day, I’m happy.