My experience leading up to 2016 has been interesting, to say the least. The truth is, until about 2013 I didn’t have a clue who I truly was. 2008-2010 were some pretty difficult years, but 2011-2012 most definitely take the cake. They were two of the most difficult years of my life, but they were also the most key to my motivation to make positive changes. 2013 was a majorly positive step forward, but 2014 was absolutely my golden year. This was the year that I felt like I’d truly come home to me… I’d spent some quality time with myself, getting to know who I truly was, what I truly valued, and developing boundaries that I’d never had before that allowed me to maintain these values with strength, grace, and love. I’d been a major people-pleaser all my life and I always carried that with pride because I felt like it was noble. What I didn’t realize until 2012 was that people-pleasing doesn’t help others as much as it enables them, and if one does not take the time to set boundaries and focus on self-care, it will ultimately wear them out and they’ll be of no use to anyone anymore. I realized that developing my own strength took “selfishness” at times but was ultimately not selfish, but a means to better help and inspire others. I once believed that sitting with people in the dark hole they were in was the way to help them, but I eventually came to the realization that if I allowed myself to, I could instead provide a light, and that because I was strong I could then help to lift those people up out of that hole.
I began a journey of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness that was so empowering and uplifting, I couldn’t help but begin sharing it with those around me. I’d found my faith the year prior and was finally feeling comfortable in living it out loud, I’d found the plant-based lifestyle that healed me in so many ways that I can’t even express enough gratitude for, and the company I was keeping around me was being weaned of the toxic relationships and filled with the most beautiful, inspirational, positive company a girl could ask for. The people in my life were inspired and intrigued and I was met with an abundance of support along the way. I was excited for what was to come and so enjoying watching the pieces of my life puzzle finally begin to fall into place in a way that truly felt right. Authenticity was absolutely the most key aspect of this year and the flow that came from it.
When 2015 rolled around, I couldn’t have been more ready and excited for it. I knew it would be a great year and life would simply continue to blossom into the most beautiful adventure that I could not wait to explore.
It certainly was an adventure, but it wasn’t at all what I expected or wanted.
I’d begun to experience some push-back from the lifestyle I’d chosen to live, especially in regards to my faith and my vegan choices. While the people around me were initially excited and intrigued by my new lifestyle and experiences, I began to realize that the way I’d chosen to live my life was beginning to impose a sense of guilt upon those around me who didn’t feel capable of making the choices I’d made for myself, or simply didn’t agree with my approach and didn’t appreciate being confronted with a different way. Although I’d always done my best to never push my believes or values on others, sometimes the simple act of sharing those different opinions openly is enough to create a defensive reaction in someone who doesn’t want to be wrong. As a former people-pleaser, the very last thing I wanted was to make anybody feel badly. I begun to feel a sense of my own guilt and, as a result, questioning. I started to question whether or not what I was doing in my life was truly right or worth the effort to do when it seemed to be so controversial at times, and I questioned whether or not sharing it so openly was a good idea. Maybe I was meant to keep it more to myself if I wanted to stay on the path I was on.
I began to diminish myself in order to make those around me who didn’t feel as great in their own lives feel better, and I began to downplay the importance of making better decisions in my own lifestyle. Simply put- I started settling. It was a subconscious choice I’d made from the simply fact that I wanted to make the people around me happy and I wanted to make sure I was keeping an open mind to their opinions, rather than holding tightly to my own… I didn’t want to seem stubborn or arrogant. And while keeping an open mind and continuously learning is a beautiful thing, the truth is that I was absorbing the opinions of others for the sake of avoiding conflict and shrinking to meet their lower self esteem, and that is it beautiful nor is it healthy. In order to help others, we must maintain our own strength, have confidence in our authentic beauty, and remain a bright light for them as guidance for when they’re ready to take our hand and be helped up. Shrinking so others won’t feel intimidated or convicted to address their own issues and poor choices doesn’t help anyone- it only leaves you stuck in the same hole they’re wanting to get out of.
This was the lesson I learned in 2015. The pieces of my life puzzle were 100% out of sync as I moved through the year and so much went “wrong” I can’t even begin to explain it all. But what I can say is that I see that it was my own responsibility, and I’ve prepared myself to take on the task of creating a better 2016 than what would be if I were to simply remain stagnant with my fingers crossed that change would fall into my lap. I don’t and won’t feel guilty for it, as that’s not helpful either, but I will recognize my mistakes, face them, take responsibility, and do what I know I need to do in order to address them and move forward with strength and grace, rather than remaining in a place of guilt and self-pity for whatever may have gone “wrong”.
I think a lot of times we can fall into traps in life, one of which being the trap of lies that others tell us and we tell ourselves. Lies that we’re doing something wrong, when we truly believe and know in our hearts that what we’re doing is right, even if that means it’s only right for this moment in time and that that might change in the future, and even if we can’t explain why any of that is. We also lie to ourselves when we guilt ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made or wrong turns we’ve taken, as we tend to create negative thoughts that lead to poor self-confidence and in turn limit our future potential. We are capable of more than that. It’s not only meant for the “special people”, but it’s something that’s available to all of us if we’d only give ourselves permission to see it, and open our hearts and our arms to receive it.
2016 will be an amazing year not because it is some magical number for me, or because I expect to stumble upon some “deserved” good luck, but because I am brave enough to face what needs to be faced in order to make it one, strong enough to put in the effort to do so, and faithful enough to know that God honor my efforts and create opportunities for me along the way that I couldn’t possibly foresee or anticipate now. This year is going put 2014’s amazingness to shame, because I was blessed to see how easily years like 2014 can be effected by losing sight of my authenticity and catering to the opinions of others versus my own true values, and I’m too strong now to let that happen again.