I made nineteen goals for 2019. Some are general behavioural things that I’d like to course-correct before I get too old and stubborn to ever change my bad habits/posture, and others are really specific and shit-my-pants scary in their ambition. But all nineteen of these goals are umbrellaed under a giant neon OMG STOP WAITING ALREADY AND JUST DO THE DAMN THING.
My biggest take-away from 2018 is that I’ve been letting life happen to me for like actual years. I’ve been waiting for someone to pick me out of a crowd like some Kate Moss fairy-tale and give me the things that I’ve been too scared to ask for, work for, take. By the end of the year, it became so glaringly obvious that I can’t wait for someone– a client, a new collaborator, anyfuckingone– to give me opportunities to achieve the things I want. Just as Ariana Grande is out here loving herself, I (me! myself!) gotta put myself out there to make opportunities for myself.
As someone who has read a billion* self-help books and literally co-runs a business that relies on the premise that we get stuff done, I know that I should have been practicing opportunity-creation already, and I have! But not to the extent that I could be. Should be. Want to be.
Okay so here’s the deal. For a while now, I’ve been treading water somewhere between the “swamplands of failure”, as Rachel Cusk so brilliantly puts it in Outline, and the success-filled life I imagine having before I go to sleep at night (it’s my favourite fantasy: a sexy city apartment, an organised walk-in closet, and a body of work that I feel really fucking proud of). As I’m sure you’re well aware, one can only tread water for so long, and while I’ve been waiting for a guy** with a boat to throw me a floaty-donut-thingy, my legs have started to grow tired and panic has been rising in my chest. My breathing, both literally and figuratively, has been erratic and shallow and sometimes drawing a breath almost feels like suffocating. I’ve basically been living in crisis, flailing somewhere between the “swamplands of failure” (I just love that) and the life I’d rather be living. I don’t recommend it, folks.
So, like, why am I doing this to myself? Because I’m just as afraid of failure as I am of the changes I’ll need to make if I want to get to the beachy life. While my current life isn’t too bad (on the contrary, it’s objectively pretty great!) I know that my body and my mental health can’t cope with hanging out in the middle anymore and I need to start swimming toward the shore (to be clear, the shore is away from the failure swamp). Yes, my muscles will ache and I’ll still be tired (maybe even more tired than this metaphor) but I’ll be moving forward and that will feel good. And I’m ready to feel good, damnit.
Of the nineteen goals I made for this brave new year, a few of them are about letting go of things that no longer serve me, but the majority of them simply grant myself permission to do so many of the things that I’ve been waiting to just kinda happen or for someone to tell me to do. And one of those things is writing about things like my feeeeelings, and some of the things might make some people uncomfortable, but I can’t wait until everyone dies in the apocalypse*** to hit publish, you know?
Just writing these words, I can feel my breath come more easily. And instead of panic, I’m starting to feel excitement again. Real, tingly, can’t-wait-for-tomorrow excitement. So here’s to 2019, to the old dying, to the new being born, to feeling good, and getting stuff done.
*Maybe not that many, but some.
** I’m from the midwest. I use guy(s) as a gender-neutral term, okay.
*** I want to make this clear: I absolutely do not want to live through the apocalypse. Especially if it’s brought on by a horrifying illness or zombies. When/if the time comes, I want to survive only as long as my wine reserve and then I will happily die with most of the other people, my forever-unburied corpse rotting away next to an empty bottle of good Pinot Noir and a Reidel glass.
Photo taken at Cuckmere Haven.