When I talk about the way I felt a year ago, I always describe it the same way...I imagine being wrapped up in the tentacles of an octopus. At first, I thought the eight legs with hundreds of little suction cups wrapping around every part of my body would feel secure...like a big hug, but in the version I experience, the octopus never lets go. The tentacles continue wrapping around my body just squeezing, refusing to let go and I’m in its crippling grip. I couldn't catch my breath and it felt like I was suffocating. I felt stuck and powerless. I felt like I had given away all of my control...control over myself, my decisions, and my life. I was living a life I thought I had to endure and keep living because I didn't want to upset anyone or let anyone down by making decisions that benefited me. I learned I am a BIG people pleaser..even to my own detriment.
Eventually as anyone does.. I hit a wall where I could no longer handle this suffocation, which in turn forced me to seek help in order to take back control of my life. Things were bad.. I medically withdrew from school for the semester in order to build back up my mental strength and battle my never ending autoimmune condition. Through counseling, I was reminded of all the adversity I overcame in my life. I remembered that 'I AM RESILIENT'. (cue the tattoo on my bicep)
I ended up having to make some uncomfortable decisions to better my life and make myself happy. I changed...better yet I grew, dare I say flourished. I left toxic situations that were no longer beneficial or healthy. I went into some of these situations with the simple intention of "I’ll give it a shot, if I don't like it I won't do it anymore," but then stayed longer than my heart knew was right, for the mere fact of not wanting to upset anything. I slowly but surely regained my physical and mental strength that had been slowly chipped away during the previous years. I did a lot of hard work to be able to fight off this metaphorical suffocating octopus that was lurking in the depths. This year I took back control and learned a valuable lesson to never give my internal power to make decisions away. The only person who should (and will) ever have control of me is me.
With all the tribulations that I faced this year, I experienced just as many, if not many more, blessings that I will cherish forever. Over the summer I saw so many mountains and soaked up their angelic beauty. My love for mountains and the activities around them are unmatched. I went to Washington state twice, once with my mom and once by myself to stay with family, do yoga, and explore nature as well as learn more about myself. I had the opportunity to go on my first cruise to Alaska, embarking from Seattle, with my favorite traveling partner, aka my mom. We took a helicopter ride to walk around Mendenhall glacier, Alaskan native Americans and learned about their culture, and watched icebergs calving in the Alaskan Inside Passage. I even attained the first stamp on my passport! I travelled to Austin, Texas for a music festival with my best friend where we had the best 3 days of our lives listening to countless artists we jam to in the car. I got a new tattoo to remind myself when I forget, that "I am resilient." I went back to school after medically withdrawing and surpassed all expectations of success. I did fantastic! It's amazing how different my life was this semester after removing all of the toxic things making me physically and emotionally sick. Granted, I was still physically sick most of this semester, which unfortunately is just how it goes with an autoimmune condition, but mentally I am stronger than ever and I will take that win!
I have learned many lessons this year. I have learned the importance of boundaries, having my OWN back, and staying true to my values. The only way I will be happy is if I stay true to these things. No one else can, nor is it their job to make me happy...it is my job and mine only to make me happy. I learned the power of vulnerability. I learned that being vulnerable is the most courageous thing a person can be. It can be hard to let yourself be seen and accept help wherever needed. I learned that there is no 'right' way to do this life thing, and there's no timeline no matter what society has told us. Forward is forward. Everyone is on their own path with their own speed and destination. Sometimes those paths are only meant to come to an intersection for a mere moment and that's just the way it's meant to be. Everything and everyone is constantly changing and evolving. The only one I am in control of is myself. I am in charge of my future. I learned that the fear of failure is stupid. All it does is keep you from pursuing your dreams. Fear is there to keep you in the comfort zone where you feel safe. But the trick is, growth only happens when you cross that comfort zone into the unknown where the magic can happen!
I intend on bringing this and all lessons learned this past year into the coming decade. If I'm being honest, that's why I'm writing this post. I've always wanted to share my story and experiences but have been afraid of so many “what ifs”. This is me taking that leap out of my comfort zone into endless magical possibilities.
I am grateful for every one of the intersections my life had placed me in. I'm grateful for all of the experiences that have made me grow into the person I am.