What I learned in 2010 is simple: the things I swore to myself I wouldn’t do have brought me the most joy in my life.
When I was in high school, I told myself daily that I was going to use my years of adulthood to work in a high-powered (but otherwise undefined) job, never waste time on “womanly arts” that could be bought for much cheaper (and of better quality), and that I would forgo getting married or having children so that I could focus on my career and self (good thing, as my total social awkwardness meant I was effectively out of the dating pool, anyways). A decade and a half later, here I am, married to someone I couldn’t imagine not spending every day with, totally enamored with my nearly-four-year-old son, having a field day learning to knit and sew, and starting a confectionery business that may or may not succeed (though I am going to try my best at it). And I am the happiest I think I’ve ever been.
In short, I’ve finally figured out that the rest of the cosmos doesn’t think ill of you, or well of you. In fact, it doesn’t think AT ALL of you—it is entirely self-absorbed. And, really, what a relief! I can answer to myself!
For me, it turns out having a life partner is not the albatross I would be tethered to, but someone who pushes me to be the best me, acting in equal parts as a lover, best friend, coach, and champion. Having a child brought me challenges, sure, but the kind that were rewarding in ways I never could have imagined (and that put a smile on my face when nothing else does). Reveling in the imperfections and personality of things I’ve made with my own hands has become much more rewarding than the ability to slap down a piece of plastic.
It wasn’t always this way. Last year, after reading Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project,” I identified some areas of my life that I thought could be more fulfilling. Then, for once, I gave myself permission to fail at them, but to only fail by trying. For once, forward movement was the goal, not the completed task.
So, I broke down the areas into tasks and got to work. And worked, frankly, incredibly hard. I lost 30 pounds (which I’ve kept about 20 of off–ha ha). I renewed relationships with people I care about. I re-evaluated my career path, and, determining I was deeply unhappy at my job, created a new business for myself that I am wholly responsible for, with the love and support of my family and friends.
Most surprisingly, I found that the joy I found at meeting my goals, while profound when it happened, pared in comparison to the joy of rising up to the occasion to tackle them to begin with. Maybe I am finally growing up.
Warmest wishes to all of you in 2011 and let me know how your journey is going! 🙂
What’s up with you, hot stuff?