Frustration. We are almost a month into the new year and what do I feel? Frustration. Frustration in who I am and in what I am capable of. A frustration that’s drawn out by comparison, not of others, but of the woman I used to be. To feel like I have failed myself. With my New Year’s resolutions wrapping themselves around my shoulders, I feel them creep into my lungs until I am inhaling the doubts and fears of never living up to my own expectations. I slowly let my let my tongue wrap itself in the words “I used to be able to,” before stopping myself.
Yes, I used to be a multitude of things. Maybe my body used to curve in a different way but it has shape-shifted to let in the air when my lungs seem to be collapsing in on me from the weight of life. Maybe I have forgotten how to let the music flow through me as I dust off my cello, but I still recognize the joy of watching eighth notes dancing on the page. Maybe I am not the best at what I used to be, but I have not lost anything. What manifests as a change in my complexion or my abilities is simply a new light being shown on my lifelong masterpiece. I am trying to allow myself to make room to grow into the woman I am supposed to be. I am trying to learn to allow myself to love the pasts versions of myself for what they taught me and how they led me to the place that I am. Because of who I used to be, I know the infinite possibilities that my future self can hold. I know what I am capable of becoming with the right amount of time and dedication.
Of course, these are all thoughts that have come to me after I have started muttering to myself that I’m ready to quit. The immediate aftereffect of realizing that I might not be able to fulfill this year’s list of resolutions. I start to sink wondering if I’ll ever look the same, or if I’ll ever regain the skills that I put away. Put away. They are not the skills that I have lost but have been tucked safely into the crevasse of my heart and mind, lingering as memories, awaiting an opportunity to surface again one day.
These are the words of someone who is learning to let go. To let past versions of myself rest. To realize that in walking away from the pieces of myself that I once loved, I learned to open new doors to failure. Yes, I said it, failure. By walking away from the time I spent fixated on certain hobbies or pieces of myself, I learned to open my heart and fail. To try creating art in more forms than words, to try learning the dances of new instruments, and to making time to be open to the possibility of failing.
Failure is intimidating. It may feel more comfortable to fail at things we’ve never tried before than to fail at things we have a history with. To recognize that we have changed and may not be in the place we were hoping to be in this point in our life. It takes courage and vulnerability to allow yourself to be put in a place where you might fail. Which is why I think we need to stop waiting for every piece of ourselves to be perfected by the first month of the year. We need to start every day as beginners, to give each day a new chance. We need to allow ourselves to make peace with ourselves and to accept our personal growth as it happens.
So just remember, as you trudge your way into the gym, and begin to feel insecure about the way your body bends into itself, try to remind yourself that your body carried you here. Whether you are in a new space or trying to bring fire and passion to an old space, have patience with yourself. While you are waiting to be transformed, it is this mind and body that has brought you here in spite of your doubts, your fears, and your insecurities. It is this mind and body that has allowed you to be vulnerable and courageous enough to keep trying despite the thoughts of doubt that linger.
You are allowed to feel remorse for who you used to be. You are allowed to miss pieces of yourselves. You just need to remember that while pieces of yourself may have been hidden under the soil of your skin, you allowed new opportunities, and feelings to take root in your soul. While you continue on the course of the year, you must allow yourself to be a beginner, to make mistakes, and even to fail. You must let down your wall of imminent attempts at perfection. You must allow yourself to exist outside of the expectations created by yourself and others. And, you must allow your New Year’s resolutions to make room for you and all the beautiful limits and imperfections that come with being a mortal, living being.
Let this year be a year of loving thoughts. A year that makes space for you.