I’m Finally Happy Because I Did This One Thing
How blaming myself empowered me to stay accountable in 2020
Have you ever wondered why those carefully-crafted New Year’s resolutions often fall flat?
According to CNN, 40% of Americans set New Year’s resolutions, but only 40% to 44% will keep them by the six-month mark. Hopeful resolution-makers flood their social media feeds to make the world aware of their lofty promises. After all, the holidays offer the rare opportunity to show vulnerability on what is otherwise a posed and captioned highlight reel.
Social media can be a useful tool to hold oneself accountable and achieve goals (cute caption and filtered photo included). But keep in mind that social media is the vehicle we often use to showcase the best of our lives. Unless you avidly follow “Bachelor Nation” stars, you will likely notice that not everyone keeps their hearts on their sleeves.
A former mentor of mine recently posted one solution to keeping those resolutions. His secret? Don’t tell anyone.
This approach works for the self-starters, the people who are driven by the fires in their hearts. This approach works for people like my fiancé, George, who have no desire to post their lives to the ‘gram. George is my silent hero — the one who works with quiet resolve. His 2019 resolutions reached no ears, but he managed to advance his career, learn new skills and court me like we were still on our first date by year’s end.
But what about the rest of us, the ones who externalize and vocalize our life experiences. Is there no hope?
Accountability is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Accountability is a choice. Once you take responsibility for your actions, you give yourself the power to change the future and your narrative.
I learned this lesson the hard way.
In May of 2018, I was five months shy of walking down the aisle with a man I met in law school. He was kind, he was polite, but I spent two years struggling with the idea of a long-term future with him. I wanted to love him, but it never felt right.
I had a pit in my stomach on the day he proposed that lifted when I called off my engagement. This was one of the hardest choices I’ve ever made. I remember calling my mom during a panic attack and praying for a sign, some sort of indication one way or the other. I had just begun prep for the Louisiana Bar Exam. When I opened up my prep book the morning I made my decision, the first page read, “DIVORCE”.
The day after I called off my engagement, my mom hosted a party at her house for her co-workers. A series of events led to a freak and fatal accident that involved the four-year-old son of my mom’s long-time colleague. As I watched two parents lose their baby boy, I felt nothing but guilt and shame.
I studied for the bar exam over the next few months, but the tragic events consumed me. I blamed God for the accident and I blamed my ex-fiancé for the failed relationship. I blamed past-relationships for why I couldn’t seem to find the right partner. I even thought about taking the bar exam on a later date, blaming the tragic events for my misfortune. My social media posts portrayed me as a newly single woman ready to take on the world, but I secretly felt powerless.
Fortunately, one of my best friends reminded me to own my future as he listened to me cry on the other end of the phone. One of the few blessings of a breakup is that you become accountable solely for yourself and your decisions. I started to say, “Kelsey, some of this is your fault.”
These words became so powerful. Once I acknowledged that some of my suffering was self-imposed, I was able to fix it. I was able to dig myself out of my own rut.
Once I realized my failings — namely, how I should have been more honest with myself and my ex — I was able to take control. My head cleared enough for me to take the bar that same summer and pass. I got a great job that allows me to make Louisiana a better place. I got to know myself and what I wanted in a relationship. I developed a healthier and more manageable fitness routine. I became a better friend. Eventually, I opened myself up to the possibility of love and met my soulmate. I stopped blaming God and went back to church with the understanding that he was working with me.
This transformation happened because I blamed myself.
Of course, I do not promote constant self-blaming. But if you’re hoping to change a few things about your life in 2020, the best place to start is within. Once you treat your circumstances honestly, you can ask yourself the tough questions that lead to real answers.
Holding myself accountable empowered me to shape my future. It’s never too late to own your life.