Self and the City is a column intended to increase visibility and dialogue surrounding mental health, relationships, harmful stereotypes, and the necessity for self-care and vulnerability. Self and the City will be headlined by Jessa Chargois on a bi-weekly basis. Submissions and guest columnists are welcomed to send work to firstname.lastname@example.org
I believe in the pure optimism that lies behind every New Year’s Resolution. I believe that one’s mindset is a powerful tool in combating the uncertainty of any new year’s challenges and obstacles. I believe that we all must celebrate our collective strength, perseverance, and resourcefulness that was demanded by 2020, yet embrace the unity required to change the course of 2021. This year, more than ever, is a year to believe in change and a positive attitude.
As many of us once assumed, 2020 would be the year I would achieve everything I once wanted. Now, I recognize 2020 was the year I began to fully appreciate everything I have, and all that lies ahead. Maybe that sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s hard not to after the unprecedented turbulence of the past twelve months.
I have always been someone who romanticized the beginning of a new calendar year. The thought of limitless possibilities, the chance to start anew, becoming the “Jessa” I always believed I could, falsely hangs in the balance come January 1st. As proven in 2020, it is impossible to plan for the future, regardless of how hard you try. So naturally, I can’t help but crack up when I reviewed my resolutions for 2020.
“Eat alone more”
“Stop utilizing social settings as an opportunity to self-medicate”
“Exercise more mindfully”
Well, those did not age well did they…? Who knew we would all be eating alone for months, unable to cozy up in our favorite restaurants, many of which no longer exist due to the economic and global pandemic? Who knew social settings would become a sign of selfishness and disrespect for the greater good? Who knew exercise would be moved permanently to our homes, foregoing the beautiful studios many of us felt the most powerful within? Yet, I would argue, that 2020 was a year that taught us all to believe in the strength that lies within each and every one of us. This may be an extremely privileged thing to say, yet, I have never felt more aware of the elements of my life that matter most.
In the past, I would have felt an overwhelming desire to control every aspect of my life; career, romantic relationships, friendships, familial love, my living situation, and my outward appearance, to name a few. While I cannot confidently say I won’t ever feel this desire to control again, for now, I am acutely aware of my new ability to relax. It goes without saying that 2020 was an incredibly stressful and grueling year. Everyone’s battles and challenges have been different, and will remain so, however, for me, those battles have allowed me the opportunity to get to know myself again.
After years pouring myself into an education, a career, a life in New York City, this “pause” in reality has allowed me to understand what I stand for and who I am without the noise. I’ve begun to see the dangerous habits I once formed surrounding my inability to be alone with myself; drinking, drugs, late nights out filled with inebriated choices. Hiding behind my choices, I pushed my identity farther and farther away from who I was becoming. This forced period of reflection has allowed for the re-acquaintance, the chance to slow down, and to refocus on the aspects of my life that matter the most; my family, my friendships, my supportive partner, my sweet puppy, and my relationship with my own body, mind, and heart. For far too long, I poured myself into what I believed I should resolve to “fix”. On December 31st, too often I found myself resolving to “get in shape,” “drink less coffee,” “read more books,” or “drink less tequila.” While these are incredibly valid resolutions, for me, it has become ever clearer that for 2021, I simply wish to “take care.”
Take care of what you may ask?
I will take care of my heart; being gentle with the ugliness I cast towards myself, offering forgiveness for past mistakes, allowing myself the chance to feel all that I may have blocked out in the past.
I will take care of my mind; stimulating it daily with crosswords, music that fills my imagination with hope, and allow myself the sleep I deserve.
I will take care of my body; moving in ways that feel rewarding, dancing to the beat of my surroundings, and walking next to my puppy, tightening our bond.
For me, this year, 2021, is symbolic of the year I listen to myself, and tune out the demands of others.
Be thankful for yourself-your body, your mind, your heart, have all done so much for yourself this year. This body you are in, carried you through incredible trauma. Your mind held strong even through some of the largest obstacles we have yet to face. Your heart mourned the overwhelming loss collectively felt this year, and let you know the future is brighter and worth fighting for.
I believe that we all must celebrate our collective strength, perseverance, and resourcefulness that was demanded by 2020, yet embrace the unity required to change the course of 2021. This year, more than ever, is a year to believe in change and a positive attitude. Let yourself believe in your resolutions. Let yourself remember the good in the world. Let yourself acknowledge the goodness within you.
Feature Image via Jessica Golightly