less pressure, more grace

Last weekend, on the way home from a trip (during which I had a very good time), I found myself crying through half the ride home. I wasn’t sad. And I wasn’t exactly upset. I was just majorly stressed out. The hustle I’d been living over the last month was doing me no good and I was feeling trapped by all the swirling thoughts in my head of what I was missing out on in the midst of that overstimulated mess. I was so invested in the “bad” and the disappointment I felt inside that I was unintentionally discounting all the good that had happened and was still to come.

You see, at the top of December, I made a lot of big plans for the new year. This was the year, I promised myself, that I would truly make a difference. This was the year that I would not only see, but feel, change in myself. This was the year I’d create new habits and eat more mindfully and really get to it on the blog and exercise more and shop less and show up in absolutely every aspect of my life.

….Which isn’t too much to ask, right?

I was SO motivated, SO inspired, SO overwhelmed, and so, so, STUCK.

Before I knew it, the new year had come and I had no choice but to go about my life as it came – a life that’s gotten even busier and more insane since 2020 began – and I let all those hopes and dreams simmer around somewhere in the deepest parts of me, one foot in and one foot out, until they all proceeded to bubble up to the surface and remind me of what a complete failure I was for letting them go to the wayside.

Can you relate?

From the outside, it’s easy to see that there are a number of issues with this scenario – problems I’m sure I’m not alone in facing:

Like over-committing,

and not giving ourselves the time to commit to any or all of those commitments,

and then demonizing ourselves for daring to prioritize our daily lives and responsibilities over our new intentions – especially in busy seasons when this is necessary,

–> all of which could have been prevented if not for the deep-seated issue of assuming everything about us is wrong and needs to be fixed on January 1st.

Which, in effect, is what the wellness industry thrives on.

About a year ago, I took an online quiz for a nutritional supplement subscription service. As I answered the multiple-choice questions, I admitted I was concerned about my sleep habits, my oily skin, my acne-prone skin, my dull skin, my water intake, my digestive tract, my weight, some “puffiness” (i.e. baby fat) in my face, my energy level, my mood, my physical activity, and more. The results I got back surprised me; the nutritionist “prescribing” me these vitamins was actually a little perplexed to hear that I had so many issues. And as I read her response, I realized I’d completely devalued anything good about myself in an attempt to “fix” everything I thought to be wrong. But I went ahead and bought some vitamins anyway, still crossing my fingers that they’d change my life forever. (Spoiler Alert: they didn’t.)

Deep down, I do know I’m not all of those things that I answered “Yes” to in that questionnaire. But given this unique opportunity to tear myself down, I was glad to utilize it in the hopes that a handful of vitamins could solve every issue I saw in myself.

Glad, y’all. Ha.

You see, wanting “more” and “better” for ourselves is perfectly natural. But we live in a culture that is constantly reaffirming that we’re not enough – especially around Resolution time – and becoming “better” ends up becoming another un-checkable box on our mile-long list of things to do, which causes WAY more anxiety than we need. And still, we continue to beat ourselves up over it. Every dang year.

So what I propose we need most of all in the beginning of any new year is not more pressure, but more grace.

Grace to forgive, accept, and nurture ourselves.

Grace to create loving space and time for our personal growth,

Grace to keep us solid when we’re in those busy seasons that require more than we’re able to give.

I love the wellness industry – I find it fun and interesting and, oftentimes, helpful. But unless you’ve had that magnificent spiritual awakening that everyone’s talking about, it doesn’t really offer much grace. More and more it seems to me that being “well” is an endless and exhausting process – and the businesses trying to keep us “well” will let us believe most anything about ourselves in an effort to sell us more stuff that – let’s be honest – probably won’t change much of it.

So, do you want to know how I solved that big ole Sunday funk I was feeling?

Well, I got in the car, alone, and put on some feel-good songs. And then I drove to the park, and I walked three miles, and I listened to a podcast that told me it was okay to feel down sometimes, and that it wasn’t worth beating myself up about it. And then I felt amazing, hopeful, optimistic, and READY. Simple as that.

Because you know what? It’s okay to start over. It’s okay to fall down and get back up again and again and again. Because the getting up is where we grow.

Truth is, whether it’s the new year, a new season, or even a new hour, I know I’m prone to being hard on myself – a lot of us probably we are. Because we know we have potential.

But one thing we can do is stop investing so heavily in all the messaging out there that’s making us believe we’re still not enough. Because when we fall victim to that, we limit our capacity to truly move forward and make shit happen. We must believe we’re worthy – and of course, that we matter.

So this week, I’m offering myself the time to decide. I’m granting myself grace for any “failures” I may have had in the past couple of weeks, and moving forward with a newfound intention and the knowledge that I can’t – and don’t have to – do it all. So long as I do something that makes me feel good.