Did your 2013 go quickly? If you’re past thirty-five years old, I’m guessing it felt like your fastest year yet. If you have kids, it was likely the simultaneously fastest and slowest year you’ve ever experienced.
Did you make resolutions for 2013? I did. When I review them, I’m disappointed in myself and I get down on myself, and honestly, I’m a little depressed right now. I was supposed to have an agent for my books by now. I was supposed to have a book deal. I was supposed to have finished rewriting my complete novels and already gotten a serious start on my next series.
I was supposed to have learned to play the guitar or the piano. I was supposed to have become a better follower of my religion- a better Christian, a more studious and diligent and worthy Latter-day Saint.
I was supposed to be forty pounds lighter.
But today I’m depressed.
I didn’t get it all done.
I was supposed to be nigh unto perfect by the end of 2013.
And that’s the sticker, isn’t it? I made all of these resolutions and they were designed to advance me toward my vision of my perfect self.
But perfection isn’t really attainable. And days don’t go the way– heck, weeks don’t go the way we want them to. Sometimes it’s months that go completely awry.
So I think it’s time someone call foul on the way I, and probably you, make resolutions and explain the resolutions I, and probably you, are cowards about. These are the resolutions that focus on our inner, not our outer. The resolutions that take the deepest of effort and the strongest of heart. The ones that we fear the most.
So here’s a list of those resolutions, not ordered by importance.
- I resolve to hug my loved ones with both arms. Lots. No more one-arm lean-in hugs. Nope. I’m going to give full-on, committed hugs. I’m going to make sure that in that moment where my loved one and I are embracing, they know my heart is full with them and that moment of connection. This resolution is about rooting out and destroying fear of authentic connection.
- I resolve to look people in the eyes. I’m not going to stare, but I’m going to give that person my attention. I don’t intend to make people uncomfortable, but I’m not going to fear what it means when I give a person all of my attention and listen completely. I’m going to force understanding of others into myself as I listen and look at people for real. This will make vulnerable– not a comfortable place to be.
- I resolve to NOT express opinions unless I know I’ve studied the issue enough. What this means is that I almost certainly won’t get into political discussions online or in person. I haven’t studied ANYTHING enough. The thing is, when I start into a political discussion without really understanding what I’m talking about, the point of that discussion isn’t to have a discussion, it’s to convince and make myself heard. That’s not a good way to foster understanding and productive compromise. But keeping myself quiet and letting others have their own opinions can be not only scary, but disquieting.
- I resolve to look in the mirror and remind myself what I CAN do, not what I CAN’T do. I can’t fit into the suit I really like, but I CAN sit with my kids and play Pit and Set. I can’t run without pain, but I CAN run a Ragnar. I CAN walk up and down stairs. I CAN work hard in and around my house. I CAN talk and move my limbs. I CAN type this post. I CAN do a lot, even with my very imperfect, miraculous blessing of a body. I CAN also make healthy changes, but first I have to retain an honest understanding and appreciation of my body in its current state. But breaking from what the world thinks we should look like can be a scary thing.
- I resolve to be honest about everything. If I have trouble being honest about things, including my feelings and reactions to the world around me, what am I hiding and why? Do I not trust people? If not, why not? It’s time to be honest. This radical honesty stuff is wrong, of course, because far too often that becomes self-aggrandizing– a thing of vanity and selfishness. I’m talking about a lack of hiding or deception or even just removing a wariness to share my feelings. I might need to couch what I say carefully, but honesty is the best way to develop deep relationships. But honest can be scary.
- I resolve to unite the inner and the outer me. I don’t want to have the inner me be a completely different person from the outer me. I want to feel full of integrity and confidence. If my inner me is something I don’t want to be seen, I am either going to find the courage to show the true and good inner me or I’m going to work on making the inner me somebody I can be proud of. And the outer me is going to reflect the beliefs and principles I hold most dear. This kind of unity and clarity is intimidating, but powerful.
- I resolve to feel. I will never stop believing that our emotions should never control our behavior. But too often I let that pendulum swing too far and I cut myself off from the honest emotional reaction I need to have internally. I resolve to feel the pain that all of us feel when a sad or tragic story crosses my desktop. I resolve to scrape the callouses off of my heart and soul and let myself feel the honest and authentic emotions God has blessed me with so that I can know His pain and love. I will allow the jubilation at small successes to fill me. I will allow the frustration at difficulty and struggle to run its course. I will watch the path of those emotions as it becomes clearer and more sensitive. Getting to know me this way intimidates me- I don’t like vulnerability.
- I resolve to talk. I will never not be stoic. But too often my stoicism becomes self-martyrdom and that’s negative and full of resentment and ugliness. I will talk to my dear ones about what’s on my mind and in my heart. I will be kind as I talk, but I will be honest. I know that as I do this, I will be giving them space and opportunity to fill the need I have in me. This is so counter to who I have been my whole life that the idea of doing this more than once in a blue moon scares me. But I’ll do it.
These resolutions aren’t goals, but are opportunities to truly become a person I like being.
I won’t live in fear of who I can become. I won’t shrink at the greatness I feel inside.
Here, take my hand and together we can stop being chickens.