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Time To Reflect: Questions To Ask Yourself Before The New Year

2020 was not what we envisioned.

Inspiration

I think it's fair to say 2020 is not what anyone envisioned. This year has been a whirlwind full of COVID-19 cases, protests, millions without employment, an intense election, and much more. 2020 has worn us out, honey! I'm tired. You're tired. We're all tired. But, as we close the chapter of 2020, it's only right we do some reflection. This time of year is perfect for discovering what we need to work on, what lessons we've learned, and how we can do better moving forward.

I love using journaling prompts this time of year for reflection. Through these reflection prompts, I have been able to be grateful for the challenges I have overcome, and look forward to the lessons ahead. If you are in search of a path to move forward in the year ahead but don't know where to begin, here are some key questions to ask yourself before the new year.

What is one thing you could have done, but were too afraid too?

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It's incredible how many people never achieve their dreams because of fear. Some of us are lowkey having anxiety over what people will think or say. Psyching ourselves out because we don't want to be seen doing "too much". We can even be afraid of failing and making a fool of ourselves too. Nothing positive can come from staying in your comfort zone because of fear. The only thing that can manifest from fear is being stuck in a situation you don't want to be in.

I was stuck at a dead-end serving job for years because I was too afraid to quit my job and become a freelancer in digital media. I was so concerned with how people would see me as irresponsible for quitting my job and going for my dream. Eventually, the misery of working at a job I had no passion for took over, so I quit.

Fear is mental more than anything else. Once you get past the mental aspect of fear, there is not much that can stop you. If there is anything you always wanted to do, but didn't out of fear, make it your goal for next year. Achieving the things that scare you the most will give you the confidence to challenge your goals. As cliche as this may sound, you never know what can happen if you don't try. Life is too short to be living in fear.

At what point this year could you have been gentle with yourself? 

I am my biggest critic. I believe my critiques of myself comes from being a perfectionist and wanting to be the best at what I do. The negative side to this trait is sometimes I can stress myself out. I have learned through trial and error; that my best is enough and perfection is an illusion.

We need to be better at checking in with ourselves and being mindful of our needs. What's the point of filling our cup if we are the ones also draining it?

Reflect on times you were in a stressful state; how did you talk to yourself? Change up that inner dialogue. Were there times when you overworked yourself? Take more breaks. Did you do anything to celebrate yourself or your wins? Treat yo' self! Being gentle with ourselves is keeping our cup inflow.

What can you thank yourself for this year?

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First off, let's all thank ourselves for making it through 2020. We all deserve a T-shirt that says: "I survived 2020." Seriously though, thanking ourselves may seem like an odd thing to do at first. We are so used to people thanking us or validating us for our efforts, but we can also do this for ourselves. We don't need to wait for anyone to acknowledge our efforts.

I'm a huge fan of thanking myself because they're milestones in my life people don't see. This year, I focused on myself and healing inner child wounds. I invested in therapy, meditation, and journaling. All of these tasks were done privately. For me, this was a huge step towards connecting with my higher self. I worked on my inner child wounds for me, so it's only right that I thank myself. Thanking yourself can feel a bit egotistical at first, but there's science behind the madness. We thank ourselves to recognize the value we've provided for ourselves. By thanking ourselves; we are subconsciously encouraging ourselves to keep going and not relying on anyone for validation.

Who in your life deserves a big thank you?

There were times during this year I didn't think I was going to make it. Times when I thought it was all "too much" for me to keep going. Having a strong circle of friends and family to help me see the light when I couldn't have been a lifesaver.

I truly believe in showing gratitude to those who have been there for you. Letting your loved ones know you recognize their efforts will strengthen your relationships.

People need to feel like they are appreciated. If not, the relationship will eventually start to deteriorate. Let your loved ones know you appreciated them during those times.

What do you want to be a student of in 2021?

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In life, the only way you can continue to grow is if you never stop learning. Being a student of life keeps you fascinated when things aren't going right. Instead of being frustrated when life isn't going according to plan (aka 2020), you can view situations from a productive mindset. Asking yourself questions like, "What can I learn from this situation?" or "How is this making me better?" can be helpful tools when navigating through a difficult season.

Before the pandemic, I was a DJ. Live events and large crowds are the heart of the industry, two things COVID-19 rightfully banned. I was no longer able to do my job, so it was back to the drawing board. Instead of dwelling on being unemployed, I decided to stay curious and see where life was taking me. Now here I am with the best writing job ever, working from my living room, and helping you glow up.

Being a student of life is the best gift you can give to yourself. Flowing with life's obstacles can lead you to some of life's greatest treasures. Observe, remain curious, and stay hungry for more. In the words of Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you're going to get."

I hope you all have a new year full of blessings, happiness, and growth.

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Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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