On Letting Go: A Well-Intentioned Declaration Against Declarations.
I wasn’t going to do that whole, let’s-get-drunk-on-over-analytical-self-indulgence-and-take-a-good-hard-look-at-the-innards-of-my-soul new year B.S. because ultimately it only leads to an incredibly low sense of self-worth.
And no one needs that.
Except maybe Paris Hilton.
(Wait. Are Paris jokes old? Is she even popular anymore? She was back when I had cable and frequented the likes of Yahoo! News, but for the last couple of years I’ve been skipping about in an ignorant wasteland almost completely devoid of the information that constitutes “news” today, and I’ve kind of been loving it.)
So I wasn’t going to do that whole thing this year — that thing where I conduct my own little New Year’s Confessional to lament the fact that while I was a good person in 2013, I certainly wasn’t the best person in 2013, and so if I loathe myself for the appropriate amount of time and promise to make big changes to my eating habits and my body and my outlook on life, will you please, dear God — or Goddess, or Karma, or Force — will you please make sure that 2014 is like the most epic of all years and that nothing bad ever happens and I finally find peace and true happiness and lots and lots of money?
Because honestly. Sometimes that’s what I sound like.
And I wasn’t going to do it because, like I told you in one of those end-of-the-year true moments of clarity, 2014 is supposed to be about prioritizing. And making grand, vague declarations of my intentions is like tossing my multitude of dreams into a hat box, mixing them up a bit, then tossing them off of the Empire State Building and racing them down the stairs to see if I can catch any by the end of the year.
But then I spent New Year’s Eve alone. Sans alcohol, if you can believe it, because I was still getting over my cold and drinking alone on NYE was about the worst little depression-inducing cliché I can think of. And if anything will make you depressed on the last day of the year, beyond being alone or out of work or not following your dreams, it’s cliché self-awareness. So between bouts of mutt-cuddling and rom-com movie marathons, and without the fuzzy mind fog of celebratory inebriation, I had a lot of time to think. And while I tried to avoid it as best I could by researching kitchen renovations and peeling off bathroom wallpaper backing smidgen by painful smidgen, it was one of those articles — those damn list articles — that got me.
Some good friends of mine posted a link to this list by Shannon Kaiser on MindBodyGreen, and I’m still not sure why I clicked it because I strongly dislike bucket lists and the idea that anything has to be done before a certain time or you fail at life, but when I read the title, “20 Things to Let Go before 2014,” I was like, But I am literally twenty-seven minutes away from 2014. What if I don’t read it and my whole year blows because I didn’t let 20 things go? If I don’t read it, do I suck at life? Was all of 2013 a complete waste of time? But if I click it, I’m committed, right? What if it’s physically impossible to let the things go in twenty-seven minutes? What if the list is so detailed that I can’t even read it in twenty-seven minutes? It would be awful to realize that if I’d just had an extra day of 2013 — an extra hour even — that I wouldn’t be dooming 2014 to complete failure. But I can’t not know. So I’m gonna click it. Yep. Clicking it. It’s happening.
I clicked it.
And while it started off with the typical motivational froo-froo, and much of it was things I inherently know — and have known — I need to deal with emotionally, I have to admit that a couple of them were like, BAM! I need to do that!
Like #18. “Let go of trying to save or change people. Everyone has her own path, and the best thing you can do is work on yourself and stop focusing on others.” Because I totally do that. Like, all of the time. For one thing because I like helping people, but also, I know, because it’s easier to be objective about the predicaments of others than to deal with my own messes. As long as I have the excuse of having to deal with people who are obviously more confused about life than I am, I don’t actually have to work on my own. And that’s a problem. And while I know I’ll never stop doling out the advice — whether good or bad — when people ask for it, I really ought to stop force feeding it when people don’t ask for it. It’s not my place. It’s not my job. And frankly, it’s not always welcome.
So there’s that.
Also #16. “Let go of thinking you have to know how to make it happen; we learn the way on the way.” Seriously? Because all this time I’ve been paralyzed — paralyzed — with indecision about my path because I simply don’t know how to get there. I don’t even really know where “there” is.
But I spend all this time researching and planning and deciding and re-deciding and I never seem to actually move anywhere. And while I still think a certain amount of preparation is helpful before diving in because it’s the regrets in life — the things we wish we could do differently — that scare me the most, I have now literally spent years planning my next step and still have no idea where to go.
So there’s also that.
The last biggie was #2. “Let go of feeling guilty for doing what you truly want to do.” This one, for me, was the veritable slap in the face. The one that made me stop rolling my eyes so I could read the rest of the list. The one that said, Hey, dummy — I wrote this for YOU, so listen up!
Because I always feel guilty. Every time I’m not making money while spending hours on a blog post. Every time I’m researching a trip I want to take. Every time Justin says, “I just want you to be happy,” because the bitch of the situation is that until I let go of the guilt I feel for being handed an opportunity to just travel and write and do what I want to do, I’m never going to be happy.
I’m just going to waste time.
I’ve been wasting time, this precious stuff, guilting myself out of action. Which makes me feel even more guilty.
And so on.
Instead of worrying about what people might think of me — the lazy military spouse, the dreamer, the non-aspirational, careerless, under-educated degree waster — I’m just going to do. And I’m going to try my damnedest to toss those negatives from my head, because thinking those things is like wishing those things.
And the only person who needs to not believe them is me.
I’m still going to prioritize in 2014. But also, I’m going to be nicer to myself. Because.
Did you read the list? Is there anything you hope to let go this year?