2016 has earned the title of the worst year in history, and been meme-ified as a dumpster fire.
And it’s true that a lot of bad things happened to me in 2016. But a lot of good things happened, too.
And as I face down the start of 2017, I think it’s going to be a year of pruning. Which is only fitting, I suppose, as it is also the year I will turn 30.
For the past several months, I’ve felt like Leslie Knope when she was trying to run for City Council and still fulfill all her duties for the Parks and Recreation Department. During that time, Ron Swanson gave her some sage advice: “Don’t half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”
I’ve been trying to get a full time job, and I finally did (hooray!) starting in November, but it happened suddenly and right as I was returning from a conference to find one of my partners having a crisis. So I don’t think I was fully able to process or prepare for the changes it was making to my life in that moment, and I ended up in a negative feedback loop and really struggling.
I’ve been trying to rest as much as possible over winter break and strategize for the spring. And as I was talking with my trainer this week about trying to get my finances under control and “only” focusing on three weekend intensives, a conference, and volunteering with three organizations this semester on top of now working full time, it hit me how much I’ve truly been in denial about my limitations. My inner perfectionist has been running the show, and she can’t anymore.
Part of what I enjoyed about working part-time was having time for personal projects and passions – being able to explore aspects of drama therapy which interest me but don’t fall under the purview of my current work. But those aren’t paying me yet, and what I really need for my life to be sustainable in the long term is benefits and to be able to pay off my credit card debt. Those are two things I can only figure out how to accomplish by working full time. Which means I’m going to have to put a pin in some of the other projects I have in mind.
In 2017 I really need to be honest with myself about my priorities and be judicious about where it is most effective for me to put my time and energy. Part of the reason I wanted to be able to work full-time is so I could concentrate my energy instead of feeling so scattered. But then I wasn’t actually doing that. And I need to.
There is always going to be grief for me in admitting that there are things I want to do that I just can’t. So today I’m letting myself really feel that and accept it. Maybe this is part of what it is to get older. Learning to accept that there are things we want to do which just aren’t in the cards for us, and learning to be honest about the things to which we can actually commit.
I can’t do a dozen different things well. Especially right now when I’m still learning about the tools I’m trying to use. Trying to learn the tools and the marketing and how to tweak everything to work with a new population all at the same time is too stressful. Maybe once I have my RDT I will be able to devote more time to networking and personal projects. But right now I need to focus on doing my current job well, finishing my internship hours, and getting on top of my finances so that I’m not deep in debt once I have my certification.
I can reevaluate next fall, knowing that my passion and ambition will always be greater than the time and energy available to me. There’s a certain point of busyness which activates my inner overachiever, and I need to focus on staying below that threshhold. On being reasonable. Judicious. Pragmatic. I know how to do too much. But whole assing one thing? That’s uncharted territory for me.
So 2017 will find me investing more time in my self, in my chosen family, and in cutting away everything that isn’t helping me achieve my goals right now. I have to cut away some branches if I want to grow deep roots. Otherwise I won’t be able to sustain the weight of it all and the branches won’t have the nutrients to bear fruit anyway.
In 2017, less is more. I’m going to funnel my energy into what I am doing now, and not what I hope to be doing in five years. If you need me, I’ll be taking a cue from winter. It might not look like there’s much happening on the surface, but trust me, there’s plenty of activity inside, where it counts.