Today’s my birthday. It’s not a milestone birthday, but I’m determined this will be a significant year. As I mentioned in my first post of this year, 2022 went out like a lion. A mean one. Don’t feel bad for me, though. The rough patch and the quick, dramatic changes have given me the most incredible opportunity to make my life what I want it to be. In this year of my life, I’m stepping into my power.
The last couple months of 2022 brought me some major life changes. My body was fighting an infection I didn’t know I had until I nearly passed out with fever one night and ended up in the emergency department. Twice. (I’m all good now.) I resigned from an organization I loved. I went through a breakup. Add to that a holiday season where my niece was toddlering and didn’t want anything to do with me, along with the slew of emotions holidays bring anyway and, to use a phrase that isn’t particularly eloquent but is entirely accurate, it was just a whole lot.
It was also a chance to remind myself who I am, what I’m capable of, what I’ll allow in my life, and what kind of life I want. It was the impetus for the word I’ve chosen for 2023 and for this year of my life–power. This year, I will take back my power. I will take control of my happiness. I will take steps to create the life I want. I won’t apologize for it.
Ever since my college years as a broadcast journalism student at American University, Katharine Graham has been a hero of mine. To put her tremendous life into a miniscule nutshell, her father owned The Washington Post. Instead of passing it to her as his heir, he passed it to her husband. Not long after, Mrs. Graham’s husband died by suicide. She reluctantly took the helm at The Post. Over the course of her tenure, she made the decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, saw the paper through a massive strike, and gave the continual okay to Woodward and Bernstein’s investigation of the Watergate scandal. She famously kept putting one foot in front of the other despite stepping into the unknown and walking into rooms full of people who doubted her.
Why talk about Katharine Graham in a blog post about stepping into my power? Because she said the words below. Words I’ve clung to for years. Words that have continued to morph into deeper, more enriched meaning for me since I first read them.
In my four plus decades, I’ve had an incredible life. I’ve had remarkable highs and devastating lows. I’ve learned by chance, by choice, and by excruciating circumstance. I’ve accumulated a host of lessons I keep with me and rely on frequently. When I forget these lessons, life finds a way ro remind me. I’m grateful for it.
So, because it’s my blog and my birthday, and because birthdays always makes me feel reflective, I’m sharing some of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned. I’ve learned them from friends, families, colleagues, acquaintances, and romantic partners. I haven’t mastered these lessons–not even close–but I’m trying. Sure, some of them are cliché, but sometimes clichés are a thing because they’re true.
- The most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself. Get to know yourself. Learn who you are at your core. Be honest. Allow yourself to evolve. Continue getting to know all the versions of you.
- Show yourself the grace you show others.
- You cannot change your past, but you can change your future. It won’t be immediate and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
- Learn the power of yet. You don’t know what you need to know…yet. You can learn it, though.
- Travel if you’re able. Go as far as you can. Whether it’s down the road or across the globe, visit the museums, see the shows, walk the parks, eat the food. Most importantly, talk to the people. Broaden your perspective.
- You do not have to participate in every argument you’re invited to. Prioritize your peace.
- You cannot control how someone acts toward you or what they think of you, but you can control how you react.
- Learn when you should stay silent and when you should talk. Do not allow yourself to be a doormat, but do not allow yourself to be the kind of person who finds joy in verbally slamming another person.
- Speaking your truth and standing up for yourself are crucial, but they are not synonymous with being intentionally hurtful toward others.
- Learn to set boundaries. Stick to them. If your boundaries cause someone to call you difficult, as they likely will, that person is not your kind of person.
- Narcissistic abuse is real. Gaslighting is real. Emotional, psychological, and verbal abuse are every bit as harmful and serious as physical abuse.
- If people are willing to lie to you, lie about you, sabotage you, and undermine you, calmly excuse yourself from that room. Perhaps you’ll have an opportunity to reveal the lies. Perhaps you won’t. If people in that circle aren’t willing or able to acknowledge what’s going on, they’re likely creating drama to keep others from seeing their own mess.
- If two people tell you you’re no good and twenty say you are, believe the twenty.
- Treat your friends and your family–genetic and/or chosen–like the treasures they are. Tell them you love them. Spend time with them.
- Make your health–physical, mental, emotional, and financial–a priority. You only get one body, one mind, and one life. Take care of it.
- Don’t allow addiction in your life. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, gambling, spending, or anything else, don’t put up with it. If you struggle with addiction, please know you are worthy of a better life. Be honest with yourself and get help. If you have addicts in your life who won’t admit their addiction and won’t work on it, keep your distance. The hurt, shame, dishonesty, and manipulation their addiction will cause is endless.
- Therapy, self help books, journals, podcasts, meditation, and prayer can all be powerful. But if you’re only going through the motions, checking the boxes, and using the words because you think you should, nothing will change. Change only happens when you’re honest with yourself, internalize the lessons, and apply them to yourself.
- If someone you’re in relationship with–be it a friend, a coworker, a partner, or anyone else–makes you feel unsafe in anyway, get out and don’t look back.
- Know your strengths and know where you struggle. Don’t pretend you know everything. Be humble and work on your growth areas. Celebrate your strengths and continue to improve on them.
- There is no one way a life should look. Build the life you want. Don’t feel the need to explain it to others. Find what makes you happy and figure out a way to do more of it. Learn deeply. Don’t shy away from your expertise. Passion, knowledge, and authentic connection aren’t common enough.
If you’ve made it all this way, thank you. 2023 is going to be one heck of a year. It’s going to be full of changes and full of joy. It’s going to bring new challenges and chances for growth. It’s going to be filled with opportunities to build the life I want filled with the people and things I love. This year, I’m stepping into my power. Come with me. Let’s go.