If you’re reading this on its publish date, my 26th birthday is tomorrow. My birthday last year was exciting because so many people consider 25 to be the prime of your life. But what about 26? I think the only thing that most of us associate with turning 26 (in the US at least) is that it’s the age when you get kicked off your parents’ insurance.
Truly exciting. So what else can we say about 26? I’m now closer to 30 than to 20. Honestly, I get little waves of nervousness thinking about 30, but then I remember that a lot can change in 4 years. I mean, 4 years ago I was 22. I’m certainly very different than I was in my last semester of college, so I’m sure I’ll be ready for 30 when I get there (fingers crossed).
Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m really starting to settle into my life, but I’ve been reflecting on my identity a lot. I want to make this year about self-care, self-empowerment, and self-formation. I think I’ve gotten the hang of self-care and self-empowerment, but how do I know where to start for self-formation? I think back to when I was a kid.
To start the year off, I made it my goal to practice positive self-talk in the month of January. I wanted to begin 2019 with the mindset that I am beautiful, I can be who I want to, and I choose faith over fear. I aimed to pay more attention to what I was saying about myself to myself and replace any negativity with these positive phrases I had chosen.
To be perfectly honest, it was hard for me to stay mindful of that. While January was a wonderful month of Jake and I staying home and just enjoying life together in our house and our city, this quiet somehow muffled my self-talk.
Most people love the warmth, sunshine, and liveliness that come with summer. Maybe it’s because of my tendency to be contrarian, but I come alive in the colder months. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great beach vacation or day spent kayaking on a lake, but I’d so much rather be sitting by a fire or even enjoying a chilly stroll around the neighborhood.
I know a lot of people are impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in winter, but did you know that it can also affect people in summer too? I don’t know if my aversion to summer is SAD, but I think it’s good for everyone to keep in mind that for every person who agrees with you, there is bound to be someone who feels the opposite. If you’re someone who has trouble when the days get shorter and the temperature drops, maybe hearing what I love about winter will help you through this season.
Smart kids get good grades. Good grades get you into good colleges. Going to a good college gets you a good job when you graduate. Getting a good job gets you a good career. Getting a good career gets you a good life.
Sound familiar? We’re pretty much all taught to think this way in the US. And if you’re a bright kid, you’ve probably internalized this mentality and formed your life plan around it. You set goals constantly, have a straight and narrow path that is both comforting and stress-inducing to follow. You know exactly how to get what you want from life.
So we’re a few weeks into 2019. Life is getting back to its normal routine, and if you’re like me, you’re finding that some of the changes that you wanted to make were easier imagined when you were in the dream-like state that comes around the holidays. There’s something about the brightness of December coupled with the mixture of uncertainty and optimism from the New Year that makes us feel a little unstoppable. Our hearts are warmed by the December holidays, and we see ourselves looking over this edge into a landscape of possibilities.
But even an exciting edge is still an edge. There’s fear there, when you’re standing at a precipice. When you visit the Grand Canyon, you’re in awe of what lies before you, but you’re also a little afraid. That’s kind of what I think happens to us when we make New Year’s resolutions.
Lately, I’ve been seeing people online choose a word that they want to represent their experience in 2019. It’s like a new spin on resolutions—what do you want your future year to boil down to in one word? I’ve seen lots of great words like “create,” “inspire,” and “grow” that make the chooser’s goals fairly easy to imagine. They make sense; they’re positive, and goals centered around that idea would naturally lead to good things.
On the other hand, the word I chose for 2019 is “no.” That’s right, I chose the word from which most negativity in our language comes. And I chose it because I think it will bring a great deal of positivity to my life in 2019. I chose it because there are some things I need to learn to say “no” to if I’m ever going to move forward.
Happy New Year everyone!
This month’s goal is related to something that we all do: talk to ourselves. I don’t care if you don’t like to admit it, we all talk to ourselves. And sometimes we don’t say the nicest things. Often, we say things to ourselves that we’d never say about other people. So why is it ok for me to tear myself down when I’d never do that to someone I love?
How you talk to (and about) yourself is a great barometer for how much self-love you’re in need of. I’m not someone who constantly insults myself and has trouble saying anything positive, but I know that the things I say when no one else is around could use some tuning. And I’ll bet that once I really start paying attention to what I’m telling myself that I’ll realize I say worse things than I thought.
The holidays are wonderful in so many ways, but for every wonderful thing, the holidays also present an opportunity for stress. There’s the pressure of giving time and presents to loved ones, additional activities in your busy schedule, and perhaps some financial strain.
For me, the Christmas season has always brought on a double-edged sword of holiday cheer—I want to make the most of the season and do as many fun things as possible, but that can sometimes end up becoming a bit overwhelming. Then, if I slow down too much, I feel regret on December 26th. It’s hard to not give too much of yourself to others and the season without also missing some opportunities for joy. But you also don’t want to run yourself down and ignore your own needs.
In order to find balance, I’ve written this guide for ways you can prioritize self-care during the holidays.
It’s December 2013, and I’m sitting on the futon in my college apartment. My end-of-semester assignments are looming, and junior year is kicking my butt a little bit. I have a car, a bit of money to spare in my tiny student bank account, and something makes me say to myself, “I want to learn how to crochet.” So I drive to Walmart and buy one skein of Lion Brand Hometown USA and a hook.
So my crochet hobby didn’t exactly start in the most sentimental way. I didn’t learn from a maternal figure on a comfy couch with the smell of cookies baking in the next room. I learned from a YouTube video in an old apartment, all the while feeling guilt for all the schoolwork I wasn’t doing.
But it was this less-than-sentimental beginning that makes me want to share my story. Having this creative hobby changed my life.
When Jake and I moved into our house after getting married, I told him, “I will not live in a house that looks like a college dorm.”
Aside from being sick of the kind of décor I had had on my walls since high school, I really wanted to live in a place that felt like home. After graduating from college, I lived in three different apartments in two years. Things weren’t permanent, they weren’t inviting, and they definitely weren’t inspiring. When we got married and got the opportunity to rent what is right now the perfect house for us, I was determined to make this space into something I had yearned for for years.