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It’s that time of the year again.
Social media is a total dumpster fire where people show themselves for the fatphobic, mental health ignorant and diet culture obsessed twats that they are.
Traditional media is awash with articles encouraging the changes we all need to be making to our brains, careers, relationships and waistlines precisely 14 minutes after insisting we all need to relax, love each other more and indulge on Ferrero Rocher.
And where does it leave us all eh?
But I venture a new possibility for personal development in 2019.
What if, instead of forcing ourselves into a mindset of ‘change’ we make it, ‘grow’?
You know a flower doesn’t have a few petal falls off and decide to become a cucumber, does it? Nah it takes on more water and sun, I think. Anyway, bad analogy aside, I’m just too exhausted to beast myself over not ‘changing’ for another year.
Each December, I enjoy time relaxing, eating, drinking and being happy but as soon as I get a whiff of the 28th, my mind has wandered into the realms of restriction, routine change, self-improvement and ‘making more’ out of life.
Last year, I decided to do Veganuary for ethical reasons. I also promised myself I’d get more exercise, work harder, ‘be happier’, dress better, be tidier, the list went on. And guess what? I ‘failed’ at it all.
I dropped the veganism as soon as someone accidentally ordered me a chicken burger (reader: I asked them to), I’ve been less active than ever and due to losing another parent and leaving teaching, I had reached new lows of depression and anxiety.
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Now normally, this cycle would continue. I’d start January with the best of intentions, ‘fail’ around the 4th of the month and then spend the rest of the year berating myself for my lack of discipline and change. New Year, Same Me.
But what if all of that is one of the things that actually underpins my sadness? What if pressuring myself to change was actually the biggest roadblock to growth?
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I took some time at the end of 2018 to reflect on the things that hold me back from happiness.
Whilst depression, anxiety and grieving are out of my control, almost everything else is a result of me trying to force myself to be something I’m not and to then get sad when I realise that’s not me.
I’m someone that forever seeks growth. I’m always learning, planning, plotting and dreaming – and often I confused my lust for personal development with changing the things I don’t like about myself.
So I took some time to have a think about the things I can develop and the things that are just ingrained in my personality. And I decided that in 2019, my biggest focus should finally be just coming to terms with who I am as a person and being happy with that rather than always wanting to change myself.
I encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to view 2019 as the year you are going to love yourself. I then encourage you to action things that are going to make you fall in love with yourself – like giving yourself more time, care and attention rather than forever waiting for external factors to change.
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Growth in 2019 has nothing to do with earning more money, having more validation on social media, being thinner, being ‘happier’ (when elements of happiness aren’t in your control).
Growth in 2019 will be about attuning yourself to your triggers and allowing yourself space to feel.
It’ll be about learning the things that make you feel bad about yourself and dealing with them.
Growth is opening your mind to staying the same.
This new year, celebrate the fact that there is a same you. Make the personal developments that are easy, bin the ones that make you feel like a failure, understand the consumerist nature of pushing a ‘new you’ agenda and just allow yourself to be, rather than change.
How are you feeling about the new year? What developments are you looking for in life?
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