I wish people would say this more when the new year roles around.
I am enough.
New year, new you- it’s like you’ve been screwing up this whole time, and now it’s your chance again to reach for things outside of yourself to make you different, and therefore better. You cannot scrap what you are made of. You cannot escape your past or your pain. You cannot start from scratch and erase where you came from. This- what you are today, in this moment- is who you are. This is your body. This is your mind. This is your spirit. Can you make peace with that? Make friends with it? Look critically at who you are and who you are not? Have you asked those components each what they need? Ego tends to take up a lot of our attention, but no matter how much we feed it, it’s not very kind to us or others a lot of the time. Ego compares and judges. It serves a higher purpose, feeding our fire, but only when we are conscious of ourselves and how we work. Svadhyaya- a yogic practice and one of my favorite words because it’s so fun to say- translates not only to studying sacred texts but also literally means the study of the self. Self-study. What does that mean? Well, much like any yogic principle, we can sit here and talk about what it is and isn’t for quite a while (and the comment section is always open for those who would like to respectfully add anything). Let’s just talk about, for a moment, how we can use Svadhyaya in the new year to discover ourselves.
When we talk about studying the self, we’re talking about doing the inner work. I really like this Emily McDowell quote going around on the interwebs- “‘Finding yourself’ is not really how it works. You aren’t ten-dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. ‘Finding yourself’ is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got it’s hands on you.”
I mean, wow. That pretty much sums it up. I guess I’m through here. Pack it up, we can all go home.
Who am I kidding? I love chatting with you too much.
So, let’s unpack that. As cliché as it may sound, everything you have ever needed was within you when you entered the world and will be there just the same when you leave it. Becoming who we truly are isn’t so much of a building up as it is a constant breaking down. We need to break down walls we’ve built around ourselves, deconstruct the biases we have built up in our minds, and break away from toxic thoughts and people forcing us to degrade ourselves, making us believe we need to be “perfect” versions of ourselves to be happy. “Happiness and success is the thinner, healthier, prettier, more talented, more this, less that version of myself.” We’ve all convinced ourselves of this at one point and time, yeah? We’ve all let this lie strip us of our power and convince us to try and be someone else, even though we were given the incredible opportunity to be ourselves, which is a person unlike anyone else in the whole world. We don’t have the luxury of choosing the conditions we were born in, our cultural conditioning, or the options we were given in our lives, and therefore we should accept and forgive them, but we can control our samskaras, which in yoga philosophy, are the patterns we perpetuate into existence as a result of these outside forces. It is not an easy task because it can be hard to look at our lives beyond a surface level and break down to our core essence. We have to ask ourselves a lot of hard questions. You can start by maybe journaling about the following and see what you come up with:
❋ How do you define yourself?
❋ Notice when your spirit becomes excited- even if it’s over something small. In these moments we are close to our authentic, childlike selves. Why does this experience make you feel alive and bring true joy? What can you do everyday to connect with that part of yourself?
❋ Notice when your spirit is tired and dull. It’s hard to let things go. We hold onto things confusing hoarding for stability, not realizing we are creating baggage for ourselves. Why does this experience make you feel heavy? How can you give yourself permission to let go of the things weighing you down?
❋ What is your why behind each New Year resolution? Are you operating from a place of truth or a shallower place? Are you striving for a perfectionist ideal that won’t come to fruition, and therefore stall you from the personal growth that awaits you?
Making resolutions to change our body or our income- that’s easy. Taking a good look at what we’re working with- that’s hard because it means making shifts in our minds. I strongly believe that by assessing who we are, that’s the only way we’ll make real strides in those external goals anyway, if they’re even still important to you by the time you come to know and love who you are. External goals are often great distractions for us from the things that really need addressing. I’m not saying inviting change into your life is wrong. I’m not saying participating in your health and well-being is wrong. I’m, in fact, stating quite the opposite. Evolving as an individual is what Svadhyaya is all about. What I am saying, though, is we need to get real with what it is we really need and go for it, and realize the person we see in the mirror right now, as is, can handle it.
Between losing my dad, closing out my college years, becoming certified in yoga instruction and a myriad of other things, I have done a lot of reflection on myself , so I will share a snippet of what that has led me to for the upcoming year with you.
Intention setting is a powerful tool in realizing our dreams. When you write down or say aloud the abundance you want to attract in your life, that is an active beginning, and I will often avoid making goals for myself because of this. I lie to myself about what I really want because becoming who you are meant to be is scary. This year, though, I am particularly excited to write intentions. Real ones. I’m tired of being afraid of who I am. This is the year I am tired of the usual wanting to lose 15 lbs. and perfecting my diet and perfecting my vocal technique- all things I realize I was using as an excuse not to start the projects that really matter to me, or beginning to figure out what that is, because I will never be perfect at anything. It’s a hard pill for me to swallow because I so badly want to lock myself away and not emerge until this ideal version of me is created that I deem suitable for the rest of the world to see and digest, but people who make a difference are messy. This year, I give myself permission to be messy so I can realize my full potential and start living the life I want, at my own pace, appreciating the small wins along the way. I’m not leaving the “old me” behind. I want her and her mistakes. She’s been through a lot and has learned so much. I cannot heal her by killing her, that just leaves a big weight to carry around. I must befriend her. And the version before that and the version before that.
This was a huge year of letting go for me. I began a process of release that allows me to stop hiding and hoarding. Befriending death will do that to you. You don’t care about trivial bullshit anymore. My dad is gone and all I care about is that I stop apologizing for myself and keeping my gifts to myself because I have something to offer, but if I’m going to evolve in that way that means I need to address my baggage. When you are put through new traumas you have the opportunity to revisit old ones. You can’t help how broken open you are, so you either push the new trauma away or you welcome all the pain you have stored away in your body back up to realize itself. I’ve thought in particular about people I avoid or haven’t forgiven over the years, and then I realize my feelings toward them have nothing to do with them. That hostility only bears heaviness on my heart and reflects an inability to face a version of myself that I want to reject. We cannot move forward if we reject parts of our past because we can’t heal what we decide to lock away. I pretend the girl with disordered eating patterns and severe insecurity didn’t happen. I pretend the girl who wrote TERRIBLY embarrissing journal entries didn’t happen. I remember what made her best and ignore her downfalls, meanwhile her faults are what made her LEARN. They made her want to be the woman she is now. I would be nothing without her, and that makes her incredibly important.
I’m tired of waiting for this perfect Allison, completely separated from my messiness, to swoop in so I can start my life. She has never and will never exist. I’m forever a work in progress. And to be perfectly honest, perfect is overrated and boring. I am not a writer. I’m not. But I have too many feelings and one day I said, “F*ck it, I have something to say, and I don’t care what it looks like it, what anyone else has to say about it, or if anyone even reads it.” That’s the Allison I want in 2019- the Allison who is a writer now, who probably isn’t very good at it, but does it anyway because she can’t help but make something to share with other people.
No one gets to sit in a corner, stare at a blank wall, and then one day hear a ring at the doorbell and say, “Oh, that’s my cue,” proceeding to pick up their suitcase and walk out the door to a sea of people who find them notable and worth paying attention to for whatever it is they magically overnight became an expert on, therefore validating their existence. My theory is we think the new year is the doorbell- January 1 comes around and this is it. This is the year I never have a bad day. Out with the old, in with the new. (I actually have a tendency to say that to myself on the 1st of every month.) Sorry, but you don’t get to skip steps or hardship on your way to whatever you’ve determined success is. We have to put in the work and wait patiently to figure out what it’s even leading us to, checking in with ourselves along the way, asking if we’re enjoying the journey or if we need a change of pace. One of the reasons most resolutions fail within the first month of the year is because we expect too much change too quickly. Another is that we don’t have a solid why behind them, connecting them to an authentic part of ourselves. This assessment is needed, even for your external goals. The things that presumably hold you back from being your highest self will still be on your mind when the clock strikes 12, and they will probably still be there if you manage to achieve a certain jean size, get the promotion, or reach a certain amount of following on social media. You will still be you, with all your problems and flaws. Even those who you admire still have them. No one is above suffering or learning. There is no bench mark for success you get to where you get to call it quits and chill at the top of the mountain where all of your worries have miraculously disappeared. This is where your why comes in. Asking yourself why it is you want what you want, and being honest in your response, forces you to look at those mental blockages and break them down, providing clarity.
So, can you accept who you are and start from there? Spoiler alert: yes you can. Don’t be you because everyone else is taken. Be you because no one else is better suited for the position. Can you have the patience for change? We might live in a fast paced world, but you are not instant coffee. (And why would you want to be? We all know a slow brew is best and packed with flavor. Don’t rush your masterpiece.) Can you have the grace to surrender when you are not getting the change you want, or if you do get the change, and it didn’t give you the sense of self worth you expected? Practice, and all is coming.
You do not need to be someone else. You need to be unafraid in being what and whoever you are, and be willing to constantly look deeper into what that is. You. Are. Enough. Live like it.
I hope you unearth yourself this year,