I have an unpolished 2022 update (up top) and a polished, pretty update (at the bottom of this post). Feel free to read both, or whichever sounds more fun to you.
What do you say about a year that felt like a waste?
I didn't create anything interesting, barely blogged, had no creative energy. I told everyone I was writing a book but didn't even finish the outline. I went on a road trip to eight states but I barely remember it because most of my energy went to my failing romantic relationship.
I feel ashamed that I committed to the wrong relationship again. When I've put so much work into becoming a healthier person. After we broke up in September, I asked myself, "What if I'm just broken?" I've read the books, I've worked the programs, I see the therapist, why am I still getting into emotionally unavailable relationships?
So, story time: I track my mood daily on a scale from 1-10. When this dude and I got together, I also logged my feelings about us as a couple. I graphed it 10 months into us dating, and starting when we became a couple (and he was the only big variable in my life that changed), my happiness went down steadily each month we were together, yet my feelings about the relationship stayed high. This relationship was clearly making me depressed, but I was so committed that I continued to see the best in the relationship, putting ever more of my energy into it even though things were clearly going poorly.
If I'm dating emotionally unavailable people, I'm likely also incapable of intimacy in general. Was I surrounding myself with friends that I can't be close with too? Lol, yes; I felt anxious and bad when I was around my local Austin friends, so I stopped seeing them. It was really hard; I was reeling from a breakup AND without friends, talk about lonely! But it gave me the space to find my new friends, who mostly feel good to be around (though I still have a couple friends who are hot-and-cold, these things are a process aren't they?), who are giving and kind and have self-esteem. To let you in on a secret though, I'm still trying to find people in Austin that I have chemistry with. I'm not sure I like the culture of this city. But I also haven't ruled out that I'm not the problem.
I want to change my belief that I can't do relationships. So I challenged other beliefs that were maybe easier to break. If I could prove myself wrong with those beliefs, then there's hope.
I've never been able to dress myself, so I started there. I finally understand why it takes women so long to get ready! A few months ago, I'd be dressed and ready in 10 minutes. Now, it takes me a legit hour- I try on all sorts of fits and analyze them, what makes them work, why don't they work, what could elevate them?
It paid off. I'm complimented on my style by strangers and friends regularly. It's such a weird and cool feeling, I never thought that'd be me. I still have LOTS to learn, but putting real effort into it has really paid off.
Another belief was that I am permanently ungraceful. I've been kicked out of dance classes because I was so hopeless. I once did Kundalini yoga and the guru found me after class and said, "You have no rhythm." In grade school, I lost a new friend because she saw me dance and was like, "I can't be seen with you."
So starting in October I took dancing lessons, and applied 'lean startup' methodology to it: do, measure, learn. I would dance with the best people I could, ask them for specific feedback, apply it diligently through lots of practice, then dance with them again the next week and ask for more feedback.
"Did you grow up dancing?" A dance partner asked me recently. "Like did you do ballet as a kid? We were just talking about your natural rhythm." WTF. I'm still a beginner (I mean, it's only been 3 months), but I've been complimented on my sense of rhythm a few times and that alone blows my mind.
So yeah, 2022 was a weird year, most of it sucked, but at the end of it, maybe it was good. Because I like my friends, I'm happy again, I can dress myself, and apparently I am graceful sometimes.
And if I could figure those two things out simply by being intentional over time, by doing the thing, measuring results, and iterating, maybe I could figure anything out given a long enough time horizon. So it's time to roll up my sleeves and tackle some bigger beliefs in 2023.
Some years are loud! Years bursting with writing and color, adventure and discovery, years where I'd excitedly word vomit about life for hours on end.
This year, however, was dead silent.
Did I even have a mouth? My pages ran dry. A dense grey fog rolled in so slowly I didn't feel it coming. I just knew that one day, everything looked hazy and far away and slow and
From January till September, my existence was a black and white nothing. I didn't know why I was slowly going numb, but looking back, I think that if I talked, or wrote, or even thought, I’d have to admit that my serious relationship wasn't working, and my local friends made me feel empty. Worse still, I didn't know how to fix it. So I stopped reaching out, even to my family, and I softly shut my eyes and let the wordless haze become me.
This is the dumbest thing ever, but TikTok was my turning point. The algorithm was the only thing I was honestly communicating with, and slowly videos started to trickle in my feed being like, "Hey bestie, I think you should break up with him. Hey bestie, this is how good friends should make you feel. Hey bestie, you're in a mess right now, but you can get out of it."
Hey bestie, "You're in a winter chapter right now."
"I know, Mom," I say between sobs on the phone. "It's just so hard."
"Of course! You met him the same time she met her man, and today you watched her get married while you're newly single. But this is the purpose of this winter season in your life. You're cutting out things that aren't working. Like him, and those so-called friends."
"But Mom, I'm so alone. Mediocre friends are better than absolutely no friends, ugh whyyyy did I cut them off?"
"Because as long as they were there, they'd keep you just comfortable enough to not make better ones. Embrace your winter, it'll do great things for you. And then one day you'll wake up, and it'll be spring again."
I took my Mom's advice. I went for drives and bawled my eyes out. I let myself feel the depths of my loneliness, I swam in my heartbreak. And by embracing my winter, the fog lifted. Time sped up to normal. Nothing was numb anymore, in fact, everything hurt like hell. To deal with the pain, I started reaching out to family again, to my good friends, and I put myself in new rooms where I knew no one, trusting that it'd work out as long as my activities were wholesome and true to me.
And one day in one of those rooms, I met my first new friend, Marco. He felt safe and kind and good, and after him came Rachael, who gave the warmest hugs. Then came many others... what started as zero became a community, one that gave as much to me as I gave to them. I started feeling valued for who I was instead for what I produced, and the snow inside me began to melt.
I started getting into dancing, going at least 3 nights a week (sometimes every night of the week). At times, I'd dance with someone and think, omg, when they dance, they are the first bud of spring after a long, hard winter, like they are art.
I wanted to be art, too. Soon, my wardrobe looked like daybreak, my attitude a warm breeze. I'd walk into my regular coffee shops, where a month ago I was basically invisible, but now strangers started conversations, women were chatty, men smiled. A couple of my former friends even came back to my life in a new, better way.
Everything around me was bursting into bloom. I danced often with a man who moved like he'd shaken hands with God, and when he held me in his arms, I could feel sun on my skin. He spun me and my dress swirled into petals, he smiled and my vision turned to vivid greens, bright oranges, pinks and lilac hues.
And at the end of the night, I'd leave alone, with the biggest smile. Knowing that I won't enter a relationship with someone who's the wrong fit. Knowing that now, I have the courage and capability to make healthy changes, no matter how difficult.
I end 2022 solidly in my Spring era. Music sounds amazing, food tastes delicious, happy moments feel happier. Even sadness feels sweet. And whatever I get up to in 2023, it'll be true to me.