2021… what a year it has been. To many of us, this year has been a lot of things, brought out the best in some and the worst in others. A year of gains & losses.
To me out of all the things that 2021 was, it was a year of truths.
Most of those who know me well, are quiet familiar with my mental health battles, I used to call them struggles, but I now choose to call them battles because they are encounters I go into with effort, fight, and determination, I win some and I lose some, but at the end of it all, I remained standing on my own two feet and despite how it felt like at times, I stayed alive through it all.
I call it the year of truths because there was so much that I learned, I faced, I discovered and I’m coming to terms with.
Some truths are ugly, some are painful, but the majority have been liberating.
The first truth I discovered is that healing is a longer journey that I thought it could be, that some days you will feel that you are healed, and that you have won, and other days you will get triggered by something and you will go back down the rabbit hole. I used to get frustrated when that happened, and I’d spiral, partially cuz I’m angry at myself for what I thought was weakness and at the world that I felt didn’t want to give me a break. Then I learned that these trips down the rabbit holes were lessons, the more you scratch the surface and heal, the more your mind and your body start bringing up your other triggers to teach you to dig deeper, because they crave more healing, more fulfillment, more stability.
It hasn’t been easy, and the reality is it never will be, but these battles are inevitable and the truth is, you need to accept that you can’t win it all; you will learn to be kinder and gentler to yourself when you lose these battles, so you can recuperate and start all over again.
I discovered that I can sometimes be my own worst enemy, that I can speak to myself ugly lies that I believe are truths, that no one sees in me but myself. I learned that the people around us generally are a lot more loving and forgiving towards us than we are towards ourselves. The truth is, we put ourselves under the microscope and under pressure to achieve perfection, but perfection is a myth, an invisible destination that you can never reach. Imperfection is part of who we are, we are even created with imperfections, to be reminded that this is what nature intended and that it is what it is.
I learned that I don’t have to do it all alone, and that going through life on your own might be perceived as a strength, but that the loneliness will kill you in the process. I learned that raising my hand and asking for help won’t make me any less of an accomplished person; and that it was fear and ego that had me willing to risk burn out than being perceived as incompetent or weak.
The truth was that when I asked for help, raised the red flag or said I’m not ok, people didn’t think any less of me, that they appreciated the honesty and sometimes you have to let people know you need them, and that life is a lot easier if you let people in.
I learned that my anxiety will continue to strike, that at times my depressive episodes will come back and that it is not something to be ashamed of. That if I am not able to explain to a person why I reacted the way I did or acted the way I did in a certain moment, it’s ok to go back and explain to them later. I used to beat around the bush cuz I was so ashamed to admit that sometimes I’m not ok; but now I know that if the truth will salvage that relationship (whatever form of a relationship it is) then I speak the truth and not be ashamed of it. No one is ashamed of a broken arm, or being asthmatic, this is just another medical condition that carries no shame in it.
The truth is, we are not defined by our traumas as adults; as children our traumas and circumstances shape us, but once we step into adulthood it is on us to change that narrative, it is on us to face our traumas, our mistakes and our demons and fight them. Our mistakes, our traumas and our past are part of the story- they’re an aspect of what happened to us, but they are not who we are.
I learned that you can love a person with all your heart, but at the same time not like them one bit and that as absurd as that concept seems, it is a normal feeling. I could love a person but dislike them for how they treat me or how they make me feel, and it is on me, to acknowledge that love, but understand that it is not enough and that if I have to love only one, it’s ok to love myself, to choose myself.
I have learned that it is ok to put myself as a priority, that I am not selfish to do so, and that sometimes it is ok to say no, or to have someone be upset when you choose your well-being over theirs. You can’t please everyone and there will never be a time where you will be loved by all, just simply as you don’t love or like everyone you meet; it is absurd to assume that everyone would love or like you when they meet you. Sometimes people just don’t click, not to a fault in either of them, it is just compatibility and chemistry.
The truth is you need to set boundaries to protect your well-being and that once these boundaries are put in place you might lose people and that is perfectly ok. That boundaries will scare you at first if you’re not used to setting them, that you would worry about the people you lose and think you’re over reacting, but you need those boundaries to protect what is most precious, to protect yourself.
The truth is that at 36 I am still learning and figuring out life. That there is no right or wrong, no manual, no guidelines. The truth is at 50 I will probably still be trying to figure out life and even to the years beyond. As long as we are alive we are learning how to navigate, because we are evolving and so the world around us.
So here’s to the truths of 2021 and the realizations that there is still a lot of work to do on a never ending learning journey.
Here’s to 2022 being a year of honesty, self awareness, self respect, self love and self actualization.