I started this year with the hope that I would show up more myself and just SHOW UP. Get out of my head and express myself authentically, even if I do that poorly.
I checked in mid-year and you can hear me still trying to evaluate and judge myself. And now, it's been a full year, so why not try to judge myself again?! Let's review how it all went.
Starting this reflection my instinct was to determine if this year was a success or failure based on that philosophical goal. Did I live that out? Grade myself. Did I make mistakes and dust myself off and try again? Judge myself.
The truth is, there were moments when I lived freely as myself and had beautiful experiences. Moments I hid myself to avoid conflict or hurt out of fear. Moments I lived freely as myself and had terrible experiences. Moments I hid myself for protection out of love and self-care.
Basically, the vision I had created of what it would look like to allow myself to simply 'be' looked very different out in the reality of the world we live in. This was true even when I felt I was 'doing it right".
Storytime - after a particularly ugly experience where I was fully myself, standing in my values that everyone deserves kindness and empathy, I felt defeated and undone. It felt cruel to afford another grace only to be manipulated, demeaned, and criticized in return, repeatedly.
In response to this experience, my therapist told me "Not everyone deserves your kindness and empathy." Later, talking to one of my coaches (yes, I have a therapist and TWO coaches, we're never meant to walk alone) she asked me "How do you define kindness and empathy? What do they look and feel like to you?"
And, for the love of all that is holy, my mind did cartwheels and jumping jacks. If I had a little hamster on a wheel in my head its little legs would have fallen off trying to reconcile the first statement and answer the second one. I still can't say I agree/disagree that not everyone deserves my kindness or empathy. But I will say, that not everyone deserves my vulnerability. I also still can't answer the question of what kindness and empathy look like to me, definitively.
Calisthenics and hamsters aside, those three sentences inspired this reflection.
It may not seem like it but this directly relates to One Day Angeleen and The Year of Terrible Mistakes. And it helped me see that, boy did I veer off into a path that was not the fertile ground I originally envisioned. I thought I had defined them, both the 2023 goal and my values. But, oh how I did not.
I was trying to take this very spiritual philosophy and implement it and critique it using a very worldly, western-focused structure. A structure based on outcomes, goals, and objectives. A structure based on the binary ideas of good/bad and failure/success.
That structure has no place because having "the world press upon me and know that I can withstand it", as I said in a previous post, isn't actually a goal. It is a philosophy. Additionally, the only way to withstand it is to start dismantling it, at least mentally, and start building something of my own. To look at what the world a.k.a society tells me and to decide if I agree or not. And then, if there is a conflict between society's rules and my own, decide if I want to play by its rules or mine in any given situation.
I'll let you know where I land on the kindness/empathy value aspect, I'm still ruminating. For my year of terrible mistakes, welI, I don't have a new goal this year. Just a new understanding that the previous one is a philosophy. A better definition, you could say.
My philosophy continues to remind me there is never an outcome, failure, or product that declares me "bad", "defeated", or "insufficient". And there is never an outcome, success, or product that declares me 'good', 'successful', or 'enough'.
Instead, each moment I get to decide what response or action matches my values. Over and over, in every moment until there are no moments left. Because there is no finish line. No awards. No judging committee. No cheering or booing audience. It's just me.
I am. I contain everything.
I am never done. I remain undone.
And my shoulders drop, my lungs fill with air and my body fills with the knowing that tomorrow will be another type of undoing. And each undoing is a part of the ever-evolving creation of my self-portrait. A masterpiece that will remain unfinished.
Happy New Year, friends.
One Day Angeleen Beginning - New Year 2023 Reflection
One Day Angeleen - Mid Year Reflection