Earlier this week I celebrated my birthday! Nothing really feels different so far. It’s funny how on your birthday you get to find out what impression you have on people based on their messages and comments. In Russian that is, in English most people rarely say much more than just a Happy Birthday (which is still appreciated) but in Russian it is common to wish a ton seasoned with couple of compliments. I noticed that most of the time, the things people wish have a lot to do with something they actually want for themselves.
I’ve got many really sweet messages, but it made me think once again how different is the way people see you and your life (these days with following culture being so present, it makes you think you know how everyone is living their life) from how you see it yourself. And I am not saying it is necessarily the opposite but of course people only see what we show them and while it still could be true, it’s definitely not all there is.
In my case specifically, I actually thought that maybe it’s them who’s actually right and not me. You see, this past year has been extremely difficult for me in terms of balance and inner happiness. I’ve been stressed, mad at myself for not trying harder, but then also exhausted, tortured myself doing things I don’t like and spent so much time on things that don’t matter.
Somehow from the person everyone sees me and the one I used to be – an eternal optimist, always positive, always a problem solver – I turned into a knot of negativity, stress, complaints and overall misery that I even thought I might be actually depressed. At what point did it all turn upside down? I don’t know. There is that moment when you almost enjoy your misery and don’t want to get out, you get some sick pleasure from being sorry for yourself and blaming the world and circumstances for the situation you are in. Now I think I am finally so fed up with feeling that way that I want to get out and change it.
The thing is, my life is pretty great overall: everyone in my family is healthy and happy, my husband has been extremely supportive and is such a great father, my son is healthy, smart and so cute, we have stable and secure jobs and not a bad place to live in but somehow I got to the point where none of it seems enough. And it’s awful. Of course when I think about it I admit it is amazing but somehow I don’t actually FEEL it. When did I get so entitled? Yes, I have many moments of joy but along with that I have moments of total despair and suffocating feeling of being stuck in my mental prison.
Feeling that way also obviously doesn’t let me grow personally or professionally. I want to do all the amazing things and fun projects but when I am so empty inside how can I create and share anything with the world?
For the next year I want to do a lot of internal work. I don’t know exactly how or what I am going to do or if it’s even gonna work, but I will try this:
1. Take care of my body and get enough sleep. I love sleeping but going to bed earlier always feels like I am missing out, even though I might be too exhausted to do anything, I still stay up wasting time online to the point where it’s past midnight again and I just set myself up for a failure.
2. Limit the consumption of social media. While I love following beautiful accounts (#goals) they always leave me anxious that I am not keeping up. Instead I want to take the time off social media for something more restorative.
3. Read books. I’ve always loved reading, ever since I was little, there was almost never a time I wouldn’t be reading something. And while I still want to read especially with so many amazing books on my list, I just can’t find time or focus enough to do it. I honestly think I’ve developed something like ADD with all the information that constantly pours on us from all devices.
4. Go back to yoga. I love yoga and thinking back when I was actively practicing, I think it contributed greatly to that feeling of gratitude that I am so longing to get back.
5. Meditate at least 10 minutes a day. That sounds extremely difficult right now due to that fear of missing out that I have developed but something tells me it’s worth it.
6. Eat better. I absolutely love healthy food, salads, veggies and fruits. I feel so happy when I eat clean. Unfortunately, I also love desserts and junk food, and lately it’s been nearly impossible to resist the temptation even though I feel super disappointed in myself afterwards. So here’s to the whole unprocessed foods.
7. Talk to people. I love having conversations and not just chit chats about daily lives and how everyone hates their job but real conversations about fears and dreams and ideas and everything else. Everyone including myself is so busy and this city is just crazy that people really have no desire to connect if it requires more than a 20 minute drive to meet up. The time I get to have together with my friends is gold and I really appreciate it.
8. Spend more quality time with my child. I remember before I was ever pregnant I thought that I would love to be there for my kid to see his first smiles, steps, words, and I am but not as much as I imagined. It’s hard to be present when you’re exhausted, I am near but not as engaged as I could be. I really want to have quality time to bond, play and explore together.
9. Let go of things that don’t make me happy and find the strength to pursue the ones that do. It’s unbelievable how much we can endure and convince ourselves it’s not too bad when in reality it drains us day by day.
10. Stop complaining and start appreciating. The worst thing about complaining is that it is really hard to stop it once you’ve been infected with it. Suddenly there is something to complain about in everything. I always felt sorry for people who are being that way and somehow I became one of them. No more.
This is not a full list but I think it’s a good plan to start. Thank you for reading this post even if it might have surprised you. If you have been through something similar in your life or have some helpful tips, please share them with me in the comments.
Happy Birthday to me and here’s to the new year!