My word for 2019 was bold.
& bold it was!
I unexpectedly quit my job (there isn’t a better word for what happened, so “quit” will have to do), taught summer school, packed up another classroom, ran a couple miles, planned a class reunion and a bachelorette party, ate cheeseburgers with Kels at Basilica Block Party and danced around about it on that hot July night, tackled my first MSW semester (bold!), started an internship working with youth experiencing homelessness (bold!!), started a job on a Monday and quit that same Wednesday (bold!!!), and met the most perfect lil’ nugget bebe who is basically the love of my life and light of my world.
Through it all, I trusted my gut, my brains, my body – my entire self – more than I ever have, to keep leaning forward boldly into the busyness, messiness, and uncertainty of the year… even when it felt impossible and imperfect, which it often did/was. And when the leaning turned into falling and the trusting turned into doubts, my people picked up their phones and the pieces; helping me find my feet, worth, and confidence again.
Sometimes there are just weird years. Weird years that can’t be predicted or controlled, just lived/survived. Sometimes the 12 month stretch is not “good” or “bad,” but an entire spectrum of happenings and emotions that add up to be an odd-in-between-wtf-now-curvebally-year like 2019 was for me.
I learned a lot in 2019, in the pages of social work textbooks and articles, Ted Talks, and through new life experiences. However, as I’ve been reflecting on the year, the greatest lesson didn’t come out of a syllabus, an assigned video, or in a handy how-to manual with step-by-step instructions.
My biggest takeaway wasn’t one I planned for, expected, or even knew I needed.
I spent most of 2017 and 2018 figuring out who I am and how to care for myself; this past year I decided to do something about and with it. Along the way I found that I didn’t have it all figured out, surprise surprise, and that all of the self-care, self-trust, self-acceptance, and self-love in the world won’t make that same world go your way. The self-stuff helps, it does. Knowing yourself, knowing how to enjoy your own company, knowing how to pick yourself up, how to talk gently to yourself, and how to create a life authentic and meaningful to you and no one else are important, invaluable journeys to intentionally travel. Once you know your own two feet, have a sense of the ground underneath you and where you want those feet to go, maybe then it’s time to find more people – with similar grounding and similar hearts – who have done the “self” work, too.
I write openly and honestly, finding comfort, forgiveness, and peace in the process of reflecting and sharing my thoughts. The truth is that it’s been safer this way; sharing words that have been edited and prepared is easier and more protective. Sharing the parts of me that have always been hard to share, for fears and worries of possible reactions, criticism, shame, judgement, misunderstanding, etc., has been safer done using my hands and a keyboard and through a screen.
I’m finally peeking over the walls I put up (and had to and don’t regret) during the process of exploring who the heck this Megan Elaine gal really is and what she wants to give and receive from this world/life. It has been a very me, me, me sequence of years, which has been important and necessary and again, intentional. Healing takes time and it’s not as simple as getting stitches or a cast removed – it isn’t that obvious. Instead, healing can sneak up on you, so slowly and camouflaged that you might not even notice it, believe it, or trust it. 2019 blindsided me in this way, and while there is no label on my forehead that reads “healed-totally-okay-all-better-stable-human,” looking back on the year, I have realized how I started to let others in again, even if just through a screen or over the phone at first. And oh! How good it felt! To be supported by others, to let people love me. Care for me. Listen to me. Hold space for me. Show up for me. To allow myself to tiptoe, slowly, gently, cautiously back into the idea and hope that maybe I don’t have to go it alone; that I am lovable and perhaps the unconditional kind of love my ex convinced me wasn’t real, really does exist! And maybe, I get to be part of the giving and receiving of this special love – if only I expand the trust I’ve grown and nurtured from the inside, out.
So here is my 2019 takeaway:
When things get weird, trust and remember what you know about yourself, and when/if you forget – find and trust your people to lighten the weirdness, or raise a glass to toast the weirdness, or to cry about it, laugh about it, whatever works!
And, you don’t have to go it alone.
Moving forward into 2020, I am hoping for balance. I am hoping for greater capacity to support others in my life, to expand and deepen my circle(s), and gosh darn, to maybe go on some dates and kiss some fellas, too.
So, I am curious about what you all think. I offer these questions for your own personal reflection, and as an invitation for a conversation or feedback or a shoutout to someone who really showed up for you last year:
Who supported you in 2019?
What did they do, say, or be for you?
How did they make you feel loved and cared for?
When you think of the people you are closest to and trust the most – the ones you want to be with and never tire of their company, the ones you want to share your most intimate and vulnerable stories and parts of you with – who are these people?
Why do you want them close?
What about them draws you in?
How do you give love?
How are the ways you give love different than how you want/expect to receive it?
Whatever your word/resolutions/goals/intentions are for this year – I hope you have people in your life to share the journey with, and if you feel that you don’t, know that I am here – yes, on the other side of a screen, but also willing to be on the other side of your cup of coffee, or saddled up to a bar next to you, or to run a few miles with you, too.
Happy New Year!