It’s January 2021! Congratulations, we made it through 2020’s complete mess of a year. From a global pandemic that resulted in the obliteration of the small business, toilet paper outages, work from home orders, and mass layoffs, to the collective evaluation of what is important (things like equity for all, diversity/inclusion, boundaries, and self-care). We are all walking out of the last year depleted from outgrowing the societal limitations previously forced upon us. We are all walking out of 2020 with a glimmer of hope for change.
Everything that once was, has shifted in incredible ways! So, when the same tired “New Year, New You” rhetoric crawled out of the woodwork to welcome 2021, I was sadly surprised! “Why?“, you ask? “The new year represents a new beginning! It’s a time to kiss the old me goodbye and say hello to the improved version. Sayonara old busted version of Meg, you suck and I cannot wait until you are a distant memory.“
[Insert eye roll here]. I am so sick of this nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, I have been a die-hard “New Year New Me” follower but I realized it’s trash.
First of all, am I trash?
First of all… When did the former versions of ourselves become the loathed version of ourselves? Seriously?! WHY is who I was yesterday, or last March, or 5yrs ago sooooo terrible? Think about it, in looking back, were you so terrible yesterday? Were you serial killer status last March? How about 5yrs ago? Honestly, were you just a worthless piece of trash 5yrs ago? No, you weren’t! So WTF? Why can’t we appreciate our former selves?
Secondly, do we not live in a world where you can love and/or appreciate who you were and who you are, while also recognizing where there is room for improvement? If that’s not a possibility, I’d like you to know that this is a safe place for that dichotomy. I’m taking space for this starting right now.
We have to be able to embrace where we are (and where we’ve come from) before we can even consider a successful progression to a goal. Healthy and sustainable progress rarely…. actually I’d argue never… roots from disdain for ourselves. Let’s put this duality into practice with the widely used resolution to “get healthy and lose weight”.
From what I have seen, this resolution sprouts from this idea that our actions have led to an overindulgence that we should be punished for. We have been too much of a couch potato (I’ve definitely scolded myself for being lazy), given in to too many holiday treats, chosen anything over water, the list goes on… But do these choices REALLY create long term discomfort? They only do if they are long term choices. AND if they are long term choices, and you’ve made the decision that this is the year to get healthy and lose weight, that’s amazing! BUT also you are missing one important point of view. The perspective that your body, despite not being a well-oiled machine carries you where you want to go every single day. That’s big.
Think about it: When a professional athlete performs despite having an injury, we don’t scrutinize her for having the injury, we celebrate her for continuing on despite her current challenge. So, why can’t we appreciate our bodies for functioning as well as they do regardless if they are a “perfect” size?
So what can we do?
I think for this example a lot of progressive women might say something like, “F*ck the patriarchy; body positivity is the only way! Size does not indicate health!” Or something like that, but here’s what I think… Regardless if you fall in the “body positivity” or the “healthy weight is an important marker of overall health” camp, none of that really matters. Simply put, there needs to be space for the juxtaposition between embracing where we are in this moment with where we want to grow.
There needs to be a place for embracing where we’ve been and who we are in this moment, with also recognizing that we are not where we want to be. And that place needs to be open and honest enough that we can talk about it with each other! Life isn’t a stagnate status… it’s an ever-evolving journey. It’s okay to appreciate every moment of it. Notice I did not say LOVE every moment? Life isn’t always butterflies and roses; 2020 was a great reminder of that. It would be unreasonable and unrealistic to expect that we love every moment of every experience. I’m not here for spiritual bypassing. BUT I am here for recognizing the implications of the journey.
My hope is that this year, we can offer ourselves some grace. Who you are in this moment is enough. Who you envision yourself to be is awesome! There is space for both! Let’s not toss who you are out with the trash, because she is not trash. She is a butterfly in her most recent chrysalis growing/evolving into this next version of herself. That is a beautiful, sometimes painful, part of the process. But once the butterfly emerges, she doesn’t scold herself for having been a pupa. In fact, they often stay close to their cocoons until their wings are ready to carry them out into the world. It’s all part of the process; no chapter is more valuable than the other.
So as we move into 2021, my hope is that you can look back on who you were, or consider who you are, and appreciate yourself. Perhaps you can tell yourself the same thing my mom used to tell me growing up, “I love you just the way you are, and I love the way you’re growing up. I am going to love you forever and ever.” It’s a good message 🙂