On How To Have A Year That Answers
There are years that ask questions and years that answer — Zora Neale Hurston
Last year asked a lot of questions.
The beginning of 2016 had me entrapped in a maelstrom of depression, identity crises & loneliness. I was almost 25 year olds with absolutely no clue with what I was doing with my life nor did I have any idea of what I wanted to do with it. Fresh out of a breakup, I was trying to form this newborn identity without the presence of my ex while reconciling with the harsh truth that I simply did not possess the drive or motivation to do things for myself.
For other people, I went above and beyond. For him, I went above and beyond. But I failed to establish a foundation for myself because I had simply forgotten who I actually was. At the end of the day, it was because I simply didn’t see myself as worth the investment or time.
Who am I? What the fuck am I doing? Will I ever move on? Will I be happy? But most importantly, Will I grow?
These were all the hard questions I had to answer. It was like looking into the black hole of myself, trying to unlace and unbend all of the knots and kinks that’d I’d let coil up too long. Without self examination, without self criticism, I had allowed myself to become a stagnant pond that relied on outside stimuli for movement.
So How Do You Have A Year That Answers?
As a disclaimer, I don’t think any of us can predict or relentlessly guide how things will go in our lives. But I think there’s an innumerable value attached to self examination and not only self examination but self awareness. It’s much more than recognizing that you need to readjust or reexamine yourself- the question is what are you going to do about it?
1. Remember that life is a perpetual process of becoming self-aware
and that you’re probably going to be examining yourself for the entirety of your life. This isn’t a bad thing- its an acceptance of the fact that the human spirit always has the capacity to continue growing.
Some years may not give you the answers. Shit, for the past four years of my life, I haven’t had any of the answers to ANYTIINNG. But an important part of the process is allowing yourself to move through these periods of question asking while being open enough to allow yourself to be challenged.
2. Accept that empathy is a tool for growth
“Awakening means…“Before I myself cross over to the other shore, I will take all sentient beings across first”
— “Hotsu-bodaishin” volume in the Shobo-genzo
Our empathy is what connects us, not only to others, but inherently to ourselves. Creating an ecosystem of healthy growth for others is consequently creating a fertile place for you to grow as well- and that’s important!
3. Realize that comfortable & happy are not synonyms
and that sometimes that path that leads to true happiness is very uncomfortable.
For a long time, many of us have been taught that being “comfortable” is happiness. And because of our capitalistic system, many of us are also caught in this perpetual cycle of living paycheck to paycheck trying to make ourselves comfortable enough to just survive. And even if we do reach financial autonomy and have our bills paid and edges laid, what does that really mean? Are you growing where you are or are you just content? Is self expression a part of your daily life?
You may be comfortable in the shade but if you don’t take the risk to get more sunlight, how will you continue to grow?
4. Don’t forget that the only person you’re in competition with is you
Sometimes we can become entrapped in a cycle of constantly comparing ourselves to others to measure our growth or success. Social media hasn’t made these urges any better since we now have instant, intimate access to the work & lives of millions of other people- I struggle with the urge to compare myself to others every single day. Comparisons are the root of jealousy and envy, both of which will only stunt your growth. Ultimately, you have to come to realize
There’s enough room for everyone to grow and thrive in their own unique way
5. Recognize that being alone & being lonely are 2 very different things
and that being alone is extremely important when it comes to self realization. How can you begin to know yourself if you’re constantly entangled in emotional attachments that may influence or change your behavior or way of thinking? Sometimes we use other people or relationships as crutches or veils. And sometimes, outside forces may cause immediate reactions in us that aren’t really us.
Connecting with ourselves on a deeper level means mastering the art (& love) of being alone. Become comfortable with the sound of your own heartbeat, feel it rush in the shells of your ears. Learn to enjoy the stillness of your own mental space.
Learn to enjoy the stillness of your own mental space.
Enjoy the beauty of you in a space devoid of outside expectations or standards- taking this energy from the inside to the outside (world) will soon become second nature.
It wasn’t until this year that I really came to grasp the fact that movement should come from within. Everything that you do, you should be doing from the core of yourself. You need to overturn those rocks you’ve been too afraid to look under all these years. You need to shine a bright light in the corners of those dark memories and experiences you’d rather forget.
You never stop asking questions. Some years, you will be forced to re-examine yourself in totality, to overturn your foundation and start anew. And some years, you will have the answers for all of those questions buried within.
Always remember, “I am beautiful, no matter the casing, no matter the skin, that surrounds this light within.”