This is a little belated given that we’re now passing mid-January, but my excuse is that we recently moved house and have only just gotten internet again, (hurray), so I thought a New Year’s post could still be justified…just.
Every other email I’ve seen over the last few weeks has been about setting your New Year’s resolutions; achieving those long-forgotten goals that you swore to commit yourself to around about this time last year. Getting that dream job, losing those dreaded last 10 lbs, generally just waving bye-bye to the old you, and saying “hey there!” to the new one. Having a chronic illness throws a fairly big spanner in the works when it comes to achieving, for want of a better word, “normal” goals and unfortunately a new year doesn’t mean magically waving bye bye to ME (if only!!). But as rubbish as being indefinitely ill is, I feel that it’s also given me a bit of perspective on just how easily goal-setting can end up being something negative as opposed to the positive thing that it was meant to be.
Don’t get me wrong I am gung ho for self improvement and goal setting, just when it’s for the right reasons and done within reason. It seems all too easy to get stuck on a hamster wheel of relentless self or life improvement, constantly in need of reaching yet another goal in order to feel worthy or happy, in a weird competition with the “yesterday you”. So you forget to appreciate today, and where you are right now even if it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I certainly wish I had appreciated my health more, and what I could do with it, when I had it.
Because what happens when, despite your very best efforts, you just don’t achieve those goals? The best mind-set would be: I gave it my all and that’s what I’m proud of, that is what I truly promised myself I would do. But it is easier said than done! Sometimes that thought can quickly become “I must not be good enough” or “I should have done more” (even if doing so wasn’t possible, or perhaps could have permanently compromised your health; it’s just not worth it!).
I definitely used to get stuck in the latter mindset (particularly when my health first started deteriorating) and it can still sneak in from time to time, wherein because I didn’t quite achieve a goal, (usually because I was too unrealistic and in denial of my ill health) I would then feel inadequate or downright useless! That feeling could quickly domino and before I knew it I was knocked down by a giant wave of self-doubt. It’s like Inception: a planted seed of unworthiness that grows throughout the layers of self, without the bonus of Leo Dicaprio or Tom Hardy… So I would push myself, not too often luckily, (I wouldn’t call myself a total perfectionist or anything) but occasionally, and my health would suffer. Only after 8 years plus of chronic illness (and watching my brother fight the same illness) has it truly sunk in that nothing is worth compromising health (except perhaps if Tom Hardy suddenly knocked on my door and wanted to whisk me off to dinner… he might just have to carry me) and that actually you can still be happy even if the goals you once dreamed of reaching become unreachable for now.
So with all that in mind, I think my New Year’s
resolutions reminders to myself are something like this:
- To appreciate every day, all the little moments, and not to think too far ahead.
- To continue to focus on the things that I can do, whether that list becomes longer or shorter; rather than letting the “can’t” list cloud the way.
- To try my best not to compare myself to others (we all do it sometimes!) CHEESE WARNING: there’s only one me! So it’s pointless to compare my life and what I’ve ‘achieved’ to someone else’s, I simply have a different measure of achievement.
- To do my best to support friends, near and far; as Maya Angelou said, to try and be a “rainbow in someone else’s cloud” (without compromising my health).
- To be braver and share more posts on here. I write bits and bobs whenever my hands and brain will allow, but I often doubt whether anyone would find them remotely interesting. Who cares, even if no one reads this, I enjoy writing it!
- To hopefully continue to make jewellery when I can and fundraise a little bit for the ME Association. It’s reignited my creative spark that was put out by my illness onset during my teens; there’s nothing quite like losing yourself in something creative and being able to give a little something back to the ME community at the same time.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope that your 2016 will be full of wonderful surprises and the best health and happiness that is possible! I hope you also give yourself a giant mental hug for everything you got through, everything you achieved, big or small in 2015 (I certainly will!).