“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
– Zora Neale Hurston
I’m on a train heading north, on my way to Boston; I think Rhode Island is sliding past my window right now, and the sun is rich and the sky is that creamy blue of late fall and the various bays of Atlantic water are reflecting the dark tinder of trackside forests. It’s really beautiful. It’s the last day of 2014.
I don’t like resolutions much because they feel abstractly selfish. I want, every year, to be nicer, smarter, prettier, less foolish. Maybe this is the year I am better; maybe this is the year that everyone likes everything about me.
From a human perspective, 2014 was just atrocious. From a personal one — well, some very good things happened to me. I started my own business, for one. I took on an editorship. I began working out. I met some truly amazing people who I am excited to have in my life. I traveled like I never have before, doing a lot to conquer anxieties (and getting to see Barcelona). I found a voice for myself in places I’d never thought to look before.
There were downsides, too: having a stroke at age 32 was not much fun, and threw some unexpected medical, financial, professional, and existential challenges at me.
It’s a mixed bag every year, with varying ratios. Still, I think I come out of this with more good than bad. 2014 has put me on the cusp of answers to questions I’ve been asking for a long time. I can just about hear them.
I won’t say these are resolutions for 2015, then, but I will say that this is where my energy is focused right now — and where I’d like to keep it for the next few months. I am working on:
- Gaining confidence in my business. I quit my job in February to take on independent consulting, and I’m so glad I did. It was absolutely the right direction for me, even when it’s been less than smooth. One of the biggest — and most unexpected — struggles I faced this year was a pervasive lack of confidence. At first I chalked it up to being new, but it kept happening over and over again, until I had to admit that it wasn’t a fluke or specific to any one project; I simply didn’t have faith in myself. From lowballing my price to squandering my time to underselling my skills to not pushing back on clients — I’ve had to realize that if I let this continue to plague me, to run my business for me, that I will not have a business much longer. So: let’s change that.
- Writing more. Well: I promise this to myself on a near-daily basis. It’s unrealistic and I want to find a way to make it more concrete, more attainable. I want to write more here (clearly), as well as for other industry publications. I also need to return to my personal writing; my poetry project has some decent legs, but they won’t last if I don’t take it seriously. Last week, in speaking with a friend of mine from our MFA program, I said: I’ve been treading water for 10 years. This summer will be a decade since grad school, and I’ve been writing uselessly ever since — that is, I scribble consistently, but I never expect it to go anywhere, not the way I used to. I don’t publish; I don’t work. So: either I do it or I don’t. Either writing is important to me — to my career, to my soul, whatever — or it is not. We shall see.
- Making my activism tangible. I did precious little for social justice this year, but I did start vocalizing in a way I never have before. I’ve spent many years keeping silent on important issues because, well, I was socialized to, and I don’t enjoy conflict, and it’s easier (and terribly priviliged) to just not engage. But my god, some things need to be said, and I am tired of not saying them. I got a bit of a voice this year; but tweeting and donating aren’t enough. I need to go beyond articulating and begin acting. I don’t know what that means yet, but I will figure this out. And I will burn the kyriarchy to the ground when I do.
- Reading books only by women and POC (and consume media, not just books, from more diverse sources). This is something I already do somewhat naturally, but I want to make a dedicated point of it in an effort to support and amplify more voices. I’ve already derailed myself by having a few unread books by white dudes already queued up in my Kindle: The Peripheral by William Gibson, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and Dust by Hugh Howey. I’m going to read those (grandfathered in, I suppose, by my too-slow reading rate this year), but the rest of 2015 is going to women and POC, starting with Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.
- Being kinder to myself. I did a really good job with self-care this year, physically speaking. I took up running three days a week, to be good to my cardiovascular system. I practice yoga twice a week to be good to my circulation and musculature and lungs. I got a good night’s sleep most of the time, and slowed my pace of life to something that allowed for these kinds of physical luxuries (which they are, for a person who has never been able to balance work and health). However, I realized recently that I’ve not turned my newfound self-care inward. I’d like to be less critical of myself. I’d like to forgive myself more. I’d like to remember that leisure is necessary and wine is delicious and knitting is meditation and perfection is impossible. It’s okay to be happy in the ways I’ve found to be happy.
I’m looking forward to the questions that the new year will bring.