Moving Forward in 2016

Happy New Year my friends!  I know I'm a little late to the party (how about we just call it fashionably late, I like that), but I want to take this opportunity to share the things I hope to leave behind in 2015, as well as the things I hope to achieve in the new year.  I've got a good feeling about 2016, which is surprising considering this is the first time in a long time that I am experiencing this kind of...optimism.  I'm sure the pessimistic asshole inside of me is mortified by the fact that I'm sitting here today with a little bit of hope, and a whole lot of optimism. However, I'm thrilled to have this new pilot in control.  And that brings me to the first thing I want to leave behind in this symbolic time to start anew...

1. Letting my negative emotions take control.  Bad feelings happen all the time, and sometimes for no real reason.  I'm hoping not to let my bad feelings dictate how my interactions with people go, and how my day goes in general.  Life is pretty simple. When you're in a good mood, things don't bother you as much. When I realized that, I asked myself why I was never in a good mood.  The answer was simple. I let negativity guide me right into my own misery.  Going forward, my goal is to take back control over my navigation system and let my bad feelings take the back seat where they belong.

2. Being stubborn and rigid in thought. You ever notice how  the trees that bend and sway in the wind tend to stay rooted, and the ones that stand tall, strong, and rigid are the ones that snap?  You get where I'm going with this, right?  I've been taking a lot of inspiration from  viewing nature in a symbolic way lately. It's actually pretty therapeutic.  Going forward, my goal is to be more open minded with every aspect of life.  I don't want to view the world as black and white.  I'd like to take inspiration from nature and evolve to be more like the fluidity of water.

3. Ignorance is not bliss.  Just because you're not aware that you're being an asshole, doesn't mean that you aren't being an asshole. It's your responsibility to be self aware, nobody else's (although, I'm sure they'll let you know).  Sometimes you have to check yourself and ask if you're the root of the issues going on in your life. I'd bet money that at least half of the time you are in some way or another.  Going forward, my goal is to be more self aware and to do something with that awareness.  I'd like to hold myself more accountable for my own actions/decisions/words.  When I hold myself responsible for my own behavior, I will be able to hold others responsible for theirs as well.  

4.  Expressing my creativity IS important.  My mental health took away a lot of the passion I had for expressing myself through art and being creative.  I used to have a whole imaginative world full of color and life going on in my head.  Somewhere along the way, my darkness made things really bleak.  Going forward, my goal is to focus on creating.  I want to create art, passion, love, happiness, beauty...and I want it to surround me and fill me up with goodness.  I want to create a new imaginative world full of color and life and everything nice.  It doesn't have to be great to anyone else, it just has to make me feel good.

5. You can't avoid conflict. In the past, I tried to avoid conflict by staying away from it all together.  This meant saying "no" a lot when my friends would invite me out.  I've let my anxiety about all the things that could go wrong hold me back from the opportunity to make good memories with friends.  Going forward, my goal is to say yes to going out and making memories more often.  Conflict will happen whether you are sitting on your couch or out with friends.  You can't avoid bad feelings happening, so maybe when I get goal #1 down, this goal will be a lot easier to accomplish.  I just need to remind myself that I can never control my surroundings, but I can control the way I let them affect me. 

6. You don't know everything.  I think the older I get the more I realize how much I don't know.  This kind of goes hand in hand with avoiding rigid thinking.   There is not a single person on this planet that knows every single thing there is to know about one particular thing, let alone everything.  So why go through life thinking I already know enough?  Going forward, my goal is to make it a point to learn new things whenever I have the opportunity and to actively look for those opportunities.  No knowledge is useless knowledge.

7. You can't gain experiences behind a screen. I tend to get in the bad habit of thinking that I am a part of what is going on in the world because I am watching it happen through my phone/computer/television screen.  This is something that distances me from real life experiences that I should be having with other people that are in front of me in the moment.  Sure, I can see what is going on with people in another country from the comfort of my living room couch, but wouldn't it be a lot more rewarding to put my phone down and be in those other countries experiencing those things first hand?  I think so.  Going forward, my goal is to put the phone down, pick the adventures up, and feed my soul. There's a lot more to see than just a screen. 

8. What doesn't help me hinders me. Whether it be people, circumstances, my own thought process, or whatever else, I tend to get in the habit of letting things hold me back.  Some things are black and white. This being one.  If someone or something is holding me back it belongs in the past. I am moving forward, not backwards.  Going forward, my goal is to swiftly and gracefully close the door on anything that is holding me back from my own growth.  People that don't want to help you grow are only going to hold you back.  I'm going to work on letting those people go rather than holding on to them.  And that's okay.  They're just on a different journey than I am right now.  I don't have to take that personally. They can catch up with me when they are ready. 

9. Hiding your feelings is not being strong. As an introvert I have an incredibly difficult time opening up and communicating my feelings with people.  If I'm not afraid people will think I'm weak, then I'm afraid they will think I'm annoying .  But it's only when I do open up and communicate with people that I see things from a different perspective, and that is really helpful.   Growing up and dealing with feelings is  really hard and confusing, but you don't have to do it alone.  You aren't weak for feeling. You're human.  Going forward, I want to have more open lines of communication with the people around me.   I don't want to beat myself up for feeling to much, or not enough of anything. I don't want to frown upon being vulnerable. It takes a lot of strength to show your vulnerability. In doing so, you lose that vulnerability by taking ownership of it.

10. If there is no mutual respect, there is no healthy relationship. I've spent just about my entire life dealing with toxic relationships.  Between my family, romantic relationships, and even friends.  No matter what kind of relationship, it has the potential to be toxic.  A lot of toxic behavior is a direct result of a lack of mutual respect for one another.  Lets be honest, if there was respect in the first place the toxic behavior wouldn't be present.  Going forward, my goal is to surround myself with people I respect and people who show me the same kind of respect.  If I don't feel respected and I don't respect others my relationships will never grow into something healthy.  I aspire to be a person that the people I respect can be proud to say they know.  I want to surround myself with people that hold themselves to that same standard.  My time and respect is valuable, so it's about time that I treat it that way. 

I had hoped to keep this post short and sweet, but that didn't go as planned.  If you made it through this wall of thoughts, I applaud you.  I also hope you are able to gain something from these moments of clarity I've been having.  I encourage you all to sit down and meditate at least once this week.  Analyze life, and try to come up with your own insight and clarity.  Try to change your perspective and see things differently. Be open minded.  Listen to the world around you and understand what it is trying to tell you.  It's probably more obvious than you think. Cheers to 2015 for all the lessons and memories. They were....what they were.  Lets focus on how good 2016 is going to be. It's gonna be great, I can feel it in my bones!

-Stilts