I don't know about you, but for me, this year was heavy.
It was my first year as a single mother of two daughters, and the first year I had to accept and define myself outside of being a wife or in a relationship. The burdens I've had to carry – the anxiety of not knowing if I was going to be able to pay all the bills sometimes, the shame of wondering if I was being a good example for my daughters, and the depression that hangs along with it all, weighed on me to the point of exhaustion. But here I am at the end of the year – I made it. You made it. Through our darkest days, we got through – sometimes day by day, other times minute by minute. And that is something to be celebrated. Some people may say it isn't, because it's part of the process; however, I can personally say that I am celebrating my experience of succeeding at getting through this year and I hope you are doing the same.
That being said, in the new year, I don't want to just survive. I don't want to just get through the year. I want to power through it.
I want to begin to live life, and specifically the one I've dreamt about during the darkest nights I went through. I believe that I can be a better woman and mother when I can show my daughters the example of a woman who is either fulfilled, or at least on the road to fulfillment. In that spirit, I want to share with you some things that I am taking into the new year and some things I'm leaving behind.
Take: Selfishness as the new self-care.
We live in a world where women who sacrifice and suffer should be celebrated while women who chase their dreams are selfish or foolish. Ultimately, though, self-love and self-care is realizing that even if it IS selfish, sometimes it is ok to be that. I've heard women talk about being selfish when it comes to their men, not wanting to share their attention with anyone else; however, when is the last time we were selfish with ourselves? When is the last time we prioritized ourselves? If you aren't nourishing your soul, your self, your core, then you are not operating authentically – in layman's terms, you're not keeping it real. What's real is that we have to be there for ourselves before we can put on the cape and be a shero for anyone else. So be selfish. Take time for you first before you give it to anyone else.
Leave: The need for a warm body in your bed and external love to survive.
There are so many women, including myself, who have thought that their definition of completeness is wrapped up in having a partner, or a warm body in your bed. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely a nice thing to have; however, it is not the end all be all in life. This type of thought breeds codependency, which makes your happiness dependent upon somebody other than you. Like Warsan Shire wrote, "You can't make a home out of a human being."
You have to be your own home. Learn to love your solitude. Learn to wrap yourself up in the comfort of your own self – in doing so, if a worthy partner (not a convenient one) comes along, then you are complete and ready to be complemented – not completed – by them.
Take: Your dreams and make at least one a reality.
As heavy as this year was for me, it opened up the opportunity for me to write again and, for the first time, be published. That has given me the confidence to acknowledge other dreams I have – a book, a blog, a podcast, etc. I'm leaning towards the podcast, just because it gives me the opportunity to reach more people on topics that are meaningful to me. But I want to implore to you – your dreams matter. Your space in this world matters. Your wants, dreams, and desires MATTER. If nobody has told you that, let me be the first. No matter what your dreams consist of, they are there for a reason. Indulge them. Allow yourself to dream about the possibilities that would come along with you living your dreams and not continuing to defer them for the sake of things that do not fulfill you.
Leave: The haters, doubters, and detractors.
You have the right to love your life. And you have the right to define what loving your life means to you. There will be people in your life who will try to redefine that for you – do not allow them. There are some people who want the best for you and are cautiously optimistic of the dreams you have. But there are also those who are naturally pessimistic and want to keep you down so they don't feel left behind. Don't allow that. They cannot live your life for you. As morbid as it sounds, when you die, you will only be with yourself. So that being said, if you don't take of yourself, what will you be left with at the end of the journey? If you take the path that others have outlined for you, you will come to the end of your journey and realize, this is what I have? This is the life I lived? Don't reach the end of your road with those regrets, love. Leave those dissenting voices back and let your voice be the one that resounds in your ears as you press forward with the life you know in your heart you should be living.
At the end of the day, allow yourself to indulge and invest in YOU before anyone else.
When you do that, you will be on the road to your spiritual recovery and rejuvenation and one day will be able to say that you lived the life you wanted to live, by your own terms, and you will have no regrets. Isn't that, ultimately, the goal? What other people think about you is not your business. What you think about you, is.
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