That was my word for 2017.
Even when I didn’t want it. Especially when I didn’t want it.
This was the year that forced me to face some pretty terrifying demons. I’ve learned more about myself this year than I have in the past ten.
I met (and learned from) some incredible people.
I started the year with one job. Then accepted another part-time job. Then accepted another full-time job. Then quit the part time job. Then was let go from my full-time job. Then accepted another amazing job.
The ups and downs of the job changes alone were intense.
But this was the year my family changed. The year we have our new normal. 2017 is the year that my parents are no longer together.
Saying that it’s been hard is a colossal understatement. I hate change. I love my family. I hate seeing them in pain. I wish I could take it away, all of it. I believe the card that Jen Pastiloff gave me at the Italy workshop back in June, which says, “Pain is a place calling for breath.”
At the time, I didn’t realize how this would speak to me. I knew the pain of my own struggles, but I didn’t know how much more I would be capable of taking on.
Growth is connected to pain. I know that firsthand now. I know pain eases with time, and I’ve seen myself grow immeasurably this year. I tell myself every day that I’m okay; I’m breathing. I want the same for each member of my family who’s hurting. I feel it with them, and I know it well.
Pain and growth are connected to my other word of the year: empathy.
I read a lot about empathy this year. It’s one of the principles a lot of people/organizations are still trying to get right. A lot of them say, “we value empathy, we have empathy for our user, for our customer, for our employees.” Now I know what that really looks like. Empathy is feeling with people.
I discovered that empathy is hard for a lot of people. They think they’re doing it right, but it doesn’t come out quite the same. Trying to find the silver lining seems like the right thing, but sometimes all people want is, “I don’t know the right thing to say, but I’m here. I’m here for you, and I care about you.”
I don’t agree with every perspective and emotion, but I can picture what that person is going through. Even people I can’t stand, or don’t want to like. I start to deconstruct why they are the way that they are. What happened to them to cause them to think or feel or act that way? It’s hard to remove yourself from the situation and think about them, especially when you’re angry. (And I’m angry a lot.)
This thinking leads me back to connection. We’re all connected. I believe that. Connections are real, and they are profound. The universe moves you to people, places and things. Even rocks. (This year I introduced myself to the healing power of crystals and I DGAF.)
I got some great advice last week from one of my favorite people, James Ball. He’s been a boss, a mentor, and a friend.
“Don’t mistake your own great qualities for weaknesses based on the opinions and lack of understanding and trust from others. Stay true to you and keep forging ahead. That won’t be the last time shit like that happens. It’s a career (life?). It’s a journey. You’ll have many hills and valleys. Traverse them all with dignity and integrity and never stop striving to improve and grow. You’ll win in the end, if you can manage to keep the muck and more away from your flame.”
Dignity and integrity.
Two things I hope my 2018 has more of.