It Was Not an Impressive Year...and Yet
I’ve been thinking about a post by Dr. Caroline Leaf that said this:
“This is your reminder to stop stressing to ‘finish strong.’ You can finish it off grateful, relaxed, slowly, peacefully. The idea that we always need to ‘be doing’ and ‘acheiving’ only creates cycles of anixety. Rushing will not solve your problems. Rest will.”
My social media feeds have been inundated with posts by friends and strangers celebrating all they are proud of accomplishing this year. I can feel my shoulders tightening and my stomach sinks with embarrassment and frustration. I’m thrilled for them and celebrate with them. But I look at my year and wonder what I have to show.
I spent the first half of the year chasing a corporate position that I thought would be my career for the next thirty years. I fought and won that job while closing the doors to the business I have been building for the entirety of my twenties.
And I spent the second half of the year in a cloud of grief and hormones after miscarrying at the end of my first trimester. I walked away from the corporate position and the generous salary and benefits that came with it when the role was not a fit. I fought (and often lost) to panic attacks and anxiety. I screamed into pillows and wept. I had days where I struggled to find the energy to and desire to keep my eyes open. I pushed against the crushing weight on my chest as I worked to bring my business back to life and start something new. I moved between confusion and numbness and focus and creativity and uncertainty and hope and ‘maybe…maybe’…and watched as I slowly started to recognize myself again.
This is not where I expected to be at the end of this year.
And yet, I feel peace. I’m glad this is where I am and maybe even starting to be ok with all that has happened and was lost.
I find myself coming back to the phrase ‘and yet’. It’s a prayer, a lifeline, a blessing. “And yet.”
I made a fraction of the income I was anticipating this year. And yet look how good our every day is. We have more than enough.
I do not have a shiny, impressive position with a dynamic company. And yet I do what I love every single day. My time is mine. I work from coffee shops and have notebooks filled with ideas and hopeful scribbles. And I’m slowly (very, very slowly) getting more comfortable with not needing to be impressive in a more traditional way.
I’ve never experienced so much disappointment and pain as I have this year. And yet I am gentler because of it.
I did not receive fancy accolades. And yet I had space to nurture my creativity and heal from years of burnout. My artistry has flourished.
I did not get another stamp in my passport. And yet I spent countless evenings in my home with friends, family, and the people I love most. And I am closer to my husband and my friends because of it.
I did not lose a bunch of weight or sculpt my abs. And yet my body has never felt so safe and comfortable, and my disordered eating habits have never been so quiet.
For much of the fall, my days were spent managing anxiety, and not doing impactful, world-changing work. And yet the anxiety didn’t win. And I was able to connect with so many others who also fight this really crummy thing.
My year may not be able to be wrapped up neatly, and it isn’t one I expect to be quick to reminisce on in the future. And yet I am comfortable with the sadness. I see where the tide of grief is going back out and in its place is a new gentleness with myself and with others. Anxiety has taught me patience. A tight budget has made me grateful and purposeful. Loss has brought new closeness with my husband.
There is hope in “and yet.” It is a place celebration and joy flourish. There is honesty in “and yet.” We can bring our year and ourselves to this place and let them be. There is no need to perform or change the narrative here. There is grit and determination and fight in “and yet.”
A prayer, a lifeline, a blessing.
We can finish this year slowly. It doesn’t have to be an impressive year to be good. It doesn’t have to be good to be acknowledged.
May we move through the final weeks of 2022 with gentleness for ourselves and others, with acknowledgment of our grief and our joy, and with a commitment to allow space, and rest, and release.
If your own “and yet” came to mind as you were reading and you would like to put it out into the world, I’d love for you to leave it in the comments so we can celebrate and acknowledge it together.
A Party Edit:
And as we often do in this space, we’re going to do a quick pivot into something lighter - a Holiday & New Year’s Party edit. And if you’re not sure what to wear for Christmas, the Thanksgiving Style Newsletter has lots of ideas that are easily adjustable to all the festivities in the next couple of weeks!
The Best Links of The Week:
I just finished this book and enjoyed it very much.
This time of year can be stressful for a slew of reasons. Here are some helpful tips from therapists to manage stress.
This White Christmas Margarita recipe looks delicious.
I enjoyed this read on Harry & Meghan.
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