For most people, December has meant saying chuck it to New Year resolutions and saying aye to the weekend after weekend of parties. And now with babyT’s birthday also falling in December, its one more party added to the calendar. December is also a time when I sit down and look at how much our family, our baby and we personally have grown in our journey as parents. But what about I, me and myself, is a thought that has been constantly gnawing at my mind.
For me, year 1 with the baby was all about putting blinkers on my eyes and doing everything to keep that little bundle fed, cleaned and happy. Year 2 has been very different. It was about trying to find self-worth and prove to myself more than anyone else that I could rock motherhood and a zillion other things too. No, this wasn’t half bad as it sounds. It was in fact spectacular.
In 2017 I found an amazing community of mom bloggers, a few very close friends among those who I know will walk with me a long way in life. It was about balancing my personal space in real life and social media, working with a new set of skills which no MBA class ever taught me and filling my plate to the brim pushing all boundaries of sleep and rest. Somewhere I did burn out a bit but didn’t collapse. But the feeling of inner despair stayed. When the year-end brought these feelings back to the foray, the message really hit home hard that I needed some new perspective on me as a person. It’s not easy trying to find your feet again. It’s certainly not simple to remember who you were or what you are now with the new feathers in your cap of motherhood or parenthood.
“There is only corner of the of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self”
How then could I make this journey into 2018?
I read blog posts of moms who went before me. I was enthused but didn’t find that a-ha moment for myself. I tried piecing together like a puzzle the lives of the women who inspire me and who I look up to. What I saw was a picture that wasn’t perfect but one which had flaws, pieces missing, pieces that were misfits and some big successes. Still, the big picture was beautiful. This only proved to me that I was OK. I was not a unique specimen on this planet with all the world’s burden on her ageing shoulders.
And then WARM happened…
WARM stands for We Are Real Moms which was conceptualised and executed by my dear mom blogger friend Nikita of BeingMammaBear. WARM is essentially a photo challenge that runs for 2 weeks every month which sees a lot of moms (bloggers or not) playing along. Its a lot of fun with a host of prizes at the end of it, but it is also an opportunity for the players and viewers to see and read about multiple perspectives on this whole thing called Motherhood. It is immensely inspiring and is something I look forward to every month.
This month’s WARM feature is being co-hosted by Akshaya & Sharvi who are running a theme all to do with Reflect – Reset – Recharge. And they asked me to contribute to one of their prompts for Word of the Year. This was a Godsend – ok more like the Kick in the Ass I needed to take my inner torment to fruition.
For a long time, I delved on one word. A new year resolution maybe? Fitness? A long lost hobby? A passion that was lost in the folds of time? Pending things on my to-do list?
None of these seemed to excite or provide enough enthusiasm to stand true for the whole of 2018. I wanted 2018 to be about all these and more. I wanted it to be so all-encompassing and huge that there would be fireworks and a brass band at the end of it, saying Yes you did it. But what was that one word?
And here came some very valuable introspection.
“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want”
Turns out most people cannot detail and arrive at what they want in life let alone one year. 🙂 But this journey doesn’t end even before its begun. I knew I had a mission on hand and that was ME. I knew I had tons of things I would change, enhance and improve. But what these things needed to be could be arrived at only with introspection. And that was easier to spell than it was to do!
So let’s just go with ME
The journey of self-discovery or what you want in life or what goals you have for the next year/ month/ week is just that. It is a journey. I think most people make the mistake of planning too far ahead. While this may make sense for long-term goals like I want to be a painter, it doesn’t help a person who is trying to find herself again after a period of what seems like you were living under a rock or a black hole.
“I am learning to trust the journey even when I don’t understand it”
But there are some simple things one can do to begin on this journey. And here is what I am doing…
How many of us just go through the days and months and eventually the year rather aimlessly? Yes, you may have daily goals and to-do lists but are they tied to larger objectives or an image of an achievable? I know I don’t. I know the myriad things I need to do and achieve on a daily basis and everything gets done. This gives me a high like no other. But it is still short lived. And that’s because most of these are transactional goals. They don’t add value to me or enrich me. And knowing the difference between what is value adding and what is not is a big step in knowing yourself better.
This concept of value-add maybe different for different folks. But it is an important exercise nonetheless. Understanding it also takes a lot of mindfulness. This is a word you may have seen a lot in conversations today. Mindfulness is “a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them.” I found this piece a very good introduction to Mindfulness and the techniques mentioned here seem easy to follow. Read it here – Mindfulness.
Imagine your life like a slate with lots of things, words, stories, doodles, pictures written, drawn or scribbled on it. And you want to write something more on this slate. But there is no space. What do you do? Rub a section off, blow off the chalk dust and write there. If only life was that simple right? But it can be. That happens when you learn to really accept mistakes or failure and forgive yourself or someone else.
No one is perfect. No one has lived or is living an impeccable life. Every photo you see on Instagram is touched up – meaning, you see only a snapshot. Everyone has a struggle. But you need to know how to forgive and trudge on. You cant keep grovelling in the could have been or oopses and still expect life to move positively ahead.
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
And this quote is true. When you begin to search you will find the answers. With really feeling and forgiving you will begin to find what it is that you want. And there are your goals. These may be small at first, like waking up 30 mins earlier than usual or maybe even going to bed an hour earlier every night. And then repeating these over time will make them HABITS.
I was once planning a program at work which involved the employees in the organization to orient themselves and thus the organization into a new set of core values. A set of actionable was planned which involved the teams to follow certain activities over a period of 21 days. The same set of activities to be done every day for 21 days. This was carefully done in order to create a habit. 21 days they say is what it takes for a person to build a routine and inculcate it into her daily life.
So too with your list. When you have found those activities make a list for the month and tick off the days you followed them and try to make that happen at least for 21 days. Slowly and surely they will snowball into something bigger for you to start seeing the results. To help you with this the team at WARM helped me arrive at this activity tracker.
Here’s the link to download the PDF
My word for 2018 is going to be SELFHOOD
When I couldn’t find where I was falling short of after being fairly successful in the myriad roles I was playing – wife, mom, blogger, brand associate, mom community manager, I realised that there was a problem. All these roles had me playing a central part in them but they were not about ME. I felt empty somewhere even when I saw big successes in these areas. I was happy doing these things but still not happy at the core. If it sounds confusing to you as a reader, imagine the tempest in my soul!
I want to focus on me in the coming year. I know that now with the amount of introspection I have done. But I do also understand that this is going to be a journey of self-discovery. This means that I don’t know yet what I am going to look like at the end of this journey or when it will even be deemed to have ended.
Selfhood for me is going to be about –
- Loving myself more, being less critical
- Being assertive over aggressive
- Believing in my talents & putting them out there
- Loving the way I look & feel
- Rekindling my passions
- Taking on personal challenges
- Finding new perspectives on life
- Just doing it, without waiting for approval from external sources
Selfhood is not going to be about –
- Being ruthless with respect to my goals so much so that I compromise on my core values
- Being selfish
- Compromising on any of the roles I play now
How am I going to achieve this? To be honest I don’t know it all right now! And that is ok. Self-discovery is a journey and I am willing to take the first step on it right now by even agreeing to be on this trip.