Another year over. Another year to reflect.
At the end of each year, I choose a word to reflect on and keep in mind during the following year. At the close of 2020, my word for 2021 presented itself quite clearly to me.
2020 was a ridiculously hard year for everyone, as COVID took hold of the world. I used that time to reflect a lot on my life. I spent some time in therapy. I journaled a lot. During 2020, I realized how hard I make things for myself and how that came from a place inside of me that felt I didn’t deserve anything better, easier.
Ease, then, became my 2021 word of the year.
Early on in 2021, I listened to a beautiful 10% Happier Podcast episode about self compassion that inspired me completely. Self compassion became my driving force in the early months of 2021. My outlook on life changed as self compassion became, for me, the building blocks of living an easeful life. I must have intuitively understood, though I’m only fully processing this now, that I needed to feel like I deserved an easeful life to build one. I couldn’t reach that point without finding space to show kindness to myself and where I was at in the present; practicing self compassion allowed me that.
Ease, for me, became about not trying so hard to make things work that clearly weren’t. It also became about accepting current realities that I didn’t like and could not immediately change. Ease became about letting go of what I thought my life was supposed to look like, to embrace where I was–the good and the bad–and to let the future come to fruition with time. As someone with people pleasing tendencies, ease and self compassion helped me to act in my best interest rather than in the interest of people around me, particularly in the midst of a housing situation that I realized wasn’t serving me anymore.
Learning to embrace a life of ease was certainly not easy. It was painful, emotional sometimes. It required a lot of letting go and letting be, of trusting.
In 2021, I graduated with my M.Ed. in a bizarre, virtual ceremony without a lot of pomp and circumstance. In a whirlwind summer of job searching and apartment hunting, I moved out of DC to live and work in Northern Virginia. That was not part of my plan. My plan was to continue living and working in DC. Yet, I am infinitely happier where I am now–not only to be living alone without roommates, but also due to the feeling that I am much better suited to my current neighborhood and environment–and I’m grateful that this job opportunity popped up for me to reconsider what was best for me. Full time teaching has certainly not been very easeful, but learning how to do it with more ease and less around the clock work has been a continued lesson in itself.
Focusing on ease has also led me to find community that I didn’t even know I was craving until I had it. Building relationships with grad school friends has been lovely. I’ve found so much solace in online community, as well (shout out the FWFG Kula!). I’ve also been working on opening up to my community at work. I’m very fortunate to work in a supportive school environment with a wonderful staff, and I have not always been the best at asking for help from them. Leaning into this community does not come natural to me, but is what I’m learning I need to do to thrive in my work environment. I also got off my high horse in late summer regarding my aversion to online dating and signed up for some online dating sites. I figured, it’s not like I’m meeting anyone in person. Due to this opening up to experience, I have been seeing a wonderful person for the past couple months, now, who fills me with so much joy. I’m looking forward to seeing where our journey takes us.
Ease, then, has been about finding my self worth through self compassion and self love. It has been placing boundaries where needed in order to truly open myself up for good things to come to me. In many ways, then, 2021 has been a beautiful year. Still filled with many challenges, of course, especially with COVID still in the air. And let me tell you, starting off a full time teaching career coming off of a year of virtual learning has been no small task…not only am I still learning how to command a classroom after doing my student teaching entirely virtual, but filling the learning gaps many of my students are experiencing due to their completely virtual 2020-21 school year is a daunting task, to say the least!
Despite the struggles of 2021, I find myself feeling overall satisfied with this year–for what I’ve accomplished, for the relationships I’ve developed, for the challenges I’ve overcome.
To build off of my quest for ease in 2021, I’m looking to focus on joy in 2022. How can I find joy, even in the tough moments, in 2022 and beyond? Perhaps it seems like an overly large task that I’ve given myself. But I’m up for the challenge. As far as I’m concerned, life is too short to live without frequent moments of joy AND ease–and those moments must be continuously sought after in this busy, non stop, twenty-first century world.
Happy New Year to you and yours!