A love letter to 2018
Even though 2018 is far from over yet, I wanted to take a moment to be thankful for all that I’ve learnt about myself and others in this year. At the start of 2018 I was on a mission, with practical tools in hand like The Happiness Project and the Headspace app, to take positive steps towards being the kind of person I want to be. 2017 was a hot mess. Emotionally and in terms of rapid change - moving to Belgium for one. But, instead of judging myself for wallowing in self pity and not looking after myself.
I took time in 2017 to allow myself to feel all the feels even the ugly ones and the ones I didn’t like about myself. I put on weight. I drank too much in celebration of life. I escaped through annihilating trashy Netflix series and ice cream. Then I would swing to the other extreme of gluttony (approx once a month) and try out another extreme fad diet. Start obsessively lifting weights and trying to convince myself to work even when inside I was screaming. I thought it was balance. I thought somewhere between my ‘natural’ lazy self and my ‘rational’ strict self I’d found equilibrium. But guess what? It was exhausting.
2018 could’ve been the start of another cycle. In fact I was ready for it to be an extreme dive into perfectionism once again. But, instead I took tentative steps towards actual middle ground. Rather than rigidly enforcing myself to practice an hour and a half yoga every day until I sweated like a maniac. I signed a pact to try and do 10 minutes - sometimes of just stretching. I wasn’t clicking on videos that were titled ‘fat burning yoga’ or ‘killer abs’. I chose yin-style deep stretching to try to heal my tumultuous relationship with my body.
Food wise I’ve been experimenting with intuitive eating. Yes, this means I initially put on weight and continued to binge. But by shopping in the vegetable aisle first in the supermarket and tuning into what my body was craving, beyond emotional hunger, I’ve started to get back on the same team as my digestive tract. Including choosing to eat three meals a day plus snacks, with breakfast. I wasted a lot of food as I was recallibrating what portion size fills me up and most days I wasn’t hungry first thing in the morning. But, at 22 years of age I’m starting to carve out a happier medium when it comes to my kryptonite - food. Don’t get me wrong I’m by know means perfect on this front and I’ve found that picking up Ayurvedic methods has helped educate me on the signs my body is telling me. From indigestion, dehydration, dryness, scalp irritation and eczema (super sexy I know!).
Generally speaking, I’ve stuck to my over-arching motto of having more fun. Be that exercising through rock climbing despite the cost and logistical difficulties. Or travelling to Bali, Italy and Hong Kong to visit love ones and feed my soul. Taking everything in life less seriously. Particularly, parts that are out of my control. SPOILER ALERT: everything is out of my control. I’ve grown intolerant to any self help articles that claim to help me master or control any part of my life. NO thank you. Without imposing a strict timetable or setting a number of books I should read this year. I’ve managed to read more than I ever have: in topics ranging from quantum physics, meditation and romantic fiction.
I’m finally releasing my tight hold on the life I’ve been desperately trying to curate for over a decade and the world hasn’t fallen apart. I’m still here. Taking everyday as it comes. Learning to accept myself and others. Learning how little I know and more importantly what I don’t even know I don’t know. Investing in myself and in relationships has been what’s made this year the most magical yet. I’ve fostered an incredibly supportive and vulnerable group of friends from around the world that are excited about being in my presence. Not all new friends, but new friendships because of the changes I’ve made. I’m so incredibly lucky for all the tears and laughs I’ve shared this year. For all the people (you know who you are) who talked me down when my mind threatened to panic again and who high fived my victories and who stroked my forehead as I cried my eyes out.
This year has been perfectly imperfect. I’ve loved every minute, especially the uncomfortable minutes. I’m finally starting to figure out who I am beyond the bs. I have so much love for every lonely, heartbroken or happy person on this planet. I am so grateful to be able to do the things I love with the people I love on a daily basis. The pain I’ve felt over the years has been the greatest gift of my life. If you’re still reading this, thank you for all your support. For the comments on my Facebook posts, to the double taps on my Instagrams or the messages saying how much my writing means to you. I hope you can go back through the archives (like I do) and I hope my flawed journey resonates with you when you need it.
Who knows what the future holds, but I can’t wait to get out there and start living it. I just don’t care about what an examiner or an interviewer or a supervisor or a critical person thinks about me anymore - none of that matters. I am enough just the way I am.
All my love, Sam