2013: Reflections

At the end of each year since 2011, I’ve written a reflective essay looking back at the previous 12 months and ahead to the coming year.
Read notes from 2012, 2014, 2015 & 2016.

What a year.

My mind struggles to grasp the year in its entirety: there has been so much change and growth that it’s hard for me to step back and really see what this year has brought.

Let’s think about where I was at the end of 2012: in Amsterdam, reaching for my independent self as I prepared to transition yet again, from Italy to London, one au pair job to another. In the months leading up to that trip, I had been dumped, discovered the power of Don Miguel Ruiz and, through his words, found my own power and sense of self, which I had freely given to those I had loved for too many years.

I made commitments to myself for 2013, the content of which were not as important, I found, as the act of committing to myself instead of others. I found comfort and strength in my promises, not because I kept them in the ways I’d initially set out to, but because of their greater underlying principle: that 2013 was going to be the year I put myself first, and stopped diminishing who I was through compromises made in, and for, relationships that did not serve me in the same ways I was willing to serve them.

No more would I, Jade Forester, serial monogamist and Queen of the Rebound, get myself into a codependent, dysfunctional relationship. No more would I choose saving others above saving myself.

2013 has been the year I learned how to save me – from myself, mostly, but also from those who would seek to de-rail the progress I’d made at the end of 2012. By the end of last year, I’d thought the thoughts and was talking the talk. In 2013 I walked the walk.

As with every path I’ve started down in my life, it didn’t go quite according to plan – I didn’t completely swear off dating, or sex, and whether that was the right choice is of course moot at this point. The goal was the find out who I am when I’m not being defined by my relationships with men. Not only to find out who I am, but to figure out if I even liked that person – and if not, take positive steps towards becoming the woman I want to be, a woman I can respect and love more than I loved being in love or planning my future. I had to start living in the present and be happy doing so.

Though I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to sit back at this point and say “I’m done,” as if a person’s growth is something that is ever complete, I can say that I achieved my goals for 2013. I found out who I am when I’m not busy being a girlfriend. I found out that I’m pretty awesome on my own, and that I have the most amazing family around me – and I mean not only those that I’m related to, but those who came into my life along the way, and stayed. I found out that I don’t need to go looking for love; I am surrounded by so much I can hardly breathe, I am so overwhelmed with gratitude at the blessings I have been given.

I realized I didn’t know myself well enough in the past to have patience with those who fell short of my high expectations, or the clarity to realize the depth and breadth of the ways I contributed to others’ unhappiness. I am working towards being more self-aware and to change old habits and assumptions, and am quietly optimistic about the future.

I have never been so humbled by any year as I have this one, though I’m sure many of my closest can think of others that my have been more outwardly momentous. But the journey from child to adult isn’t always greatest in the milestone moments: the distance between student and graduate, or Maine and the UK, was not so great as the miles I travelled within myself this year, as I searched to discover and redefine who I am and what I want.

I am exhausted, yes, but exhilarated. I have never felt so ready to take on whatever life throws at me. Never have I had so much to be thankful for, or as many reasons to smile throughout my day. Never have I felt so fully my capacity for good, or my strength for change, or my ability to achieve my goals.

I don’t have any resolutions as I move into 2014 beyond this: keep it up, Jade. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come, and what you are capable of when you open your eyes, your mind, your heart, to what you need.

Show yourself every day that are worthy of love – and that means loving yourself. RememberStephen Chbosky’s words from The Perks of Being a Wallflower: ‘We accept the love we think we deserve.’

Show those who support you how much they mean to you whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Remember how much they’ve done for you, and don’t forget it or take them for granted. Remember how it felt when you withdrew yourself from them, and don’t let it happen again!

Open yourself up to falling in love again, even if it doesn’t look or feel like it used to. If you don’t want the next relationship to end like all the others, you probably don’t want it starting like all the others. Take your time. Breathe. Hold on to yourself without holding yourself back.

Remember the four agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best
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