I know that New Year’s resolutions are getting kind of old and tired. But making a list of goals at the beginning of every year is pretty important to my general mental health and happiness. I’m a goal-oriented person and also an anxious and occasionally depressed one, so having a solid plan and a reason to get up every morning is key to my sanity. I’ve always been that way, ever since I was a kid. I make lists and then practically orgasm every time I cross something off. Inhale, check, exhale.
This year, I want to really focus on myself and on the world at large because I’m a hot mess and so is the damn planet. Seriously, what is happening? So, my goal for 2018 is to do whatever I can to make the world a better place and also really focus on my own health and happiness. Instead of “learning French,” I want this year to be more like, “be a beacon of mental health and kindness and save Orangutangs because THEY ARE DYING.” Why? Because if 2017 taught me anything, it’s that self-care is the cornerstone of being able to show up for others and it’s not something I’m good at (because I like to focus on others to avoid dealing with my own shit, let’s be honest). Plus, I feel like as a woman and as the oldest kid in my family, I was taught how to take care of others but I never really learned how to focus on myself. However, I’m learning because I kind of had to after I totally lost my shit a bit ago.
In the fall of 2016, I had a nervous breakdown (weee!) which made 2017 the Year of Self-Care by necessity (SO MUCH THERAPY, guys, SO MUCH). In 2017 I learned:
- That self-care isn’t just something for my hippy friends. Taking care of yourself and meeting your own needs can mean the difference between a life riddled with anxiety and stress or a life that’s filled with happiness and only the occasional moment of stress or anxiety.
- I can’t solve everyone else’s problems. I have a tendency to try to fix things for other people and in doing that I take on their stress, anxiety, fears, and an array of other negative emotions. I had to learn how to trust others to solve their own problems. Sure, I’ll offer advice when necessary or when I can, but then I have to back away and just be supportive without doing things for them.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is a real thing that works magic. Example? After 35 years of being afraid of the dark, I am no longer scared of the dark. Retraining your brain is hard and takes a ton of effort (it’s an all day thing) but it really does work and it’s kind of amazing when it does.
- To trust my therapist. I’m not a trusting person by nature and it’s not unlike me to walk into a situation and look for reasons not to trust someone. This time, I promised myself that as soon as I connected with someone, I’d let myself be totally vulnerable and trust them. If my therapist tells me to do a thing, I do the thing. If she makes mistakes, I don’t hold it against her and use it as a reason to avoid therapy or come up with why she’s not right for me. While I have been to terrible therapists in the past and I know that shit providers exist, I also know that I’m really good at searching for flaws and I use it as some weird way to self-protect. My current therapist has basically guided me through a breakdown to a much more stable version of myself. It’s been weird to actually just let someone in and be okay with it. Terrifying, but really good.
- To say what I want in my relationships. Especially in a marriage. My husband once told me, “I’m more selfish than you are, so if you don’t tell me what you want, you probably won’t get it because I won’t even realize it.” And I was like, well that’s a weird fucking thing to say, whacko. But I’ve realized that my relationships across the board are better when I’m just as open and blunt as possible. I went from, “Hey babe, it would be really nice if you cleaned the bathroom,” to, “Hey babe, I need you to clean the bathroom in the next few days and here’s why. If you choose not to, that’s fine but know that I will hire someone to do it because I don’t have the time to pick up the extra cleaning slack.” And then? Follow through mother fucker. Although follow through is not something I’ve ever struggled with. If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. I’ve learned to be very careful with my threats because I’d hate to say, “I will stab you if you do that again,” and then be forced to fork my husband.
- To not take on other people’s feelings. My husband is a pretty anxious person and I used to take on his anxieties and make them my own. Now, I’m a lot better at going, “this is your shit, dude,” and preventing him from spraying me with his anxiety cooties.
In 2018, I want to take the self-care up a notch by allowing myself to really dive into the things that make me happy like painting, writing, reading, and watching an endless stream of handicap goat videos.
Another thing that’s important? I feel like the world is ending. The air is polluted, there are dead zones in the sea, and a shocking number of animals are inching towards extinction, including adorable fuzzy ones that I spend hours stalking on Instagram every day and that infuriates me. We’re a smart species, we can figure out how to have all the things we want AND have fish in the ocean. I don’t want to live in a shithole because, well, I fucking love wildlife and uhm, air. So, in addition to taking care of my own ass, I want to do more to take care of my community and the people in it and the planet because we all kind of need each other to survive. Except for assholes. We don’t need assholes. They can hitch a ride to Mars.
My New Years Resolution: A Better World (and a better M.E.)
Here’s a very general list of the things I want to achieve this year. It’s very general but my husband is pacing in the living room going, “baaaabe, I wanna go hiiiiiking,” and he’s distracting me.
Find a new husband
- Meditate every day (Headspace is my fave app of all time)
- Read 10 books on self-care and do what the books recommend
- Have brunch or coffee with friends every week
- Workout every day
- Eat more clean (and also more chocolate)
- Take notes in Therapy and make to-do lists that I follow through on so I can continue to work through my shit but more efficiently
- Do what I want to do, not what I think I should do. This is something I really struggle with in terms of my career. I’m always trapped between what I love and what I think is “responsible.” The outcome is that I’m just not as happy as I could be
- Write every day (essays, blog posts, screenplays, plays, lists, scribbles, all the things)
- Tell people the nice things that I actually think about them. I’m not good at complimenting people I know. I’m way better at complimenting strangers (no, I don’t know why).
- Bullet Journal every morning (bullet journals are the greatest thing since sliced bread. But also I don’t even know if I’m that impressed with sliced bread).
- The World
- Get involved in local politics so I can advocate for environmentally friendly policies and policies that build community trust
- Eat local from local farms as much as possible
- Buy more stuff from vintage stores instead of new
- Make my house more sustainable by getting rid of paper napkins and paper towels
- Donate money to a good cause every month by eating out less
- Volunteer time every month and get on the board of a charity
- Learn how to preserve veggies (I am terrified of botulism) this summer so I don’t waste my garden’s produce
- Start composting and try to significantly reduce waste in our home
- MAAAAYBE buy an electric car (Tesla Model 3?). Our second car is about to die and cars are the worst polluters.
What about you guys? What do you want to do better in 2018?