When 2023 Began
My phone wasn’t ringing or chiming with Happy New Year messages of any variety.
I was alone.
All there was for me was a weight of how did I end up alone? Why do I have to start the conversations with my siblings and friends? I don’t know. I’m not going to worry about it. They have their own lives and I’m not an important part.
I feel like I’ve fallen behind in life.
While everyone else has a job worthy of their education. I’m still searching. While everyone else is working towards their dreams, I keep ignoring mine. While everyone else has that person who’s always there for them. I am the one who shows up for others but no one shows up for me.
Last year was hard.
2023 was one word for me: Hard.
I had a plan for the year. I had an ultimate goal of having a income I can be proud of by the end. I had detailed plans for what I wanted to in the first four months of 2023.
It all fell apart.
What I lost interest in what I was going to do because I couldn’t see the destination and goal. I couldn’t see the destination because I didn’t know what it was. I was working and studying without direction. Hoping a destination would appear on its own.
Then life happened and I stopped working and studying.
I lost my grandmother in a way she didn’t deserve. Alzheimer's took over her body and almost every part of her mind. The only part I believe it didn’t take was she knew her family. At the end she wasn’t able to communicate or move but she knew us. She survived long enough for her daughters to get to her. She survived long enough for me to look into her eyes for the last time. Eyes that I can still see any time of day.
In June, I was told that I didn’t meet the essential qualifications for a Phd opportunity. Even with a 4.1 GPA, two master’s degrees (one of which was directly related to the PhD project), I wasn’t given a chance.
I fought a year of constant change at work. Just when everything started to calm into a new routine someone would quit or something would change. I’ve been through a lot of misdirections and confusion. Times where I thought I was asked to do X when actually Y was supposed to happen. I’ve taken the blame for situations where if someone else asked for help it would never of happened.
I am capable of more and I know it.
I want to do more.
I want to move forward.
Every opportunity I show interest in I get pushed away from it. I want to do something where I can help solve problems that will make a difference. I want to have positive impacts on the lives of co-workers and clients. I want to know I belong and my words and actions are valued. I want to learn and be trusted, not set-up to fail and left in the dark.
There were too many nights where I was awake all night wondering why? Why am I the ignored and forgotten one? Why am I always wrong even when I do a task the exact way I was told to? Why am I being held back? Why am I not worthy of anything?
I don’t know. I spent most of 2023 hurting.
Dreaming is Free. Taking Action Costs.
At the end of 2023, I opened my eyes to what I need to change.
I have to stop holding myself back out of fear of disappointing others and letting others downgrade my dreams.
I have to start doing things for me.
My dreams matter. I am important. I am worthy. I do struggle everyday to convince myself of those.
No one is going to show up to help you with your dreams unless you start doing what you can. Even then there’s no guarantee anyone is going to be there for you. Keep learning one step at a time. When everything is an equal priority focus on what you put your hands on first. When you need help ask instead of struggling.
My dream to start a side-income so I can afford a new car matters. It’s not a hobby for me. It’s a lifeline. Others see it as a small hobby because I’m still near the starting line. I am steadily figuring out what I need for supplies and equipment, and how to create what I want to make.
For dreams to become reality it is going to cost time, money, and mistakes. Help will come as you need it. Staying afraid of disappointing others and failing is not going to change anything.
2023 Was Great …
Not everything in 2023 hurt.
I — the quietest one in my family — gave my grandmother’s eulogy. I was the last person all of our family, friends and relatives would have ever expect to do that.
For me it wasn’t a eulogy it was the only way I a few more minutes with her. That would not have happened if I had stayed afraid of speaking up.
In my eulogy to my Grandmother, I said I am going to turn the whole front yard (and probably the entire yard) of our family cottage into a flower garden with perpetual colour and textures all year round.
I started in 2023 with no real plan.
Her flower bed that was largely ignored for the past few years is cleaned up. (She wouldn’t let anyone near it the last few years of her life.) Now it’s just a matter of moving plants around. Some plants to add others to move out.
New plants have been planted. In areas new areas around the front yard to start new borders and beds. Over 200 crocus and daffodil bulbs went in the ground last fall.
None of that would have been done if I had of waited for someone to give me permission to start.
I’m very slowly learning french. This year I have reached a 600-day learning streak on Duolingo. I would probably be further ahead in learning if I spent more than 5 or 10 minutes on it everyday. Yet the time I did put in has taken me to a level where I can read basic french without realizing I am reading french.
Steady progress is progress no matter how small.
I got a laser engraver. I am very slowly and steadily learning how to use it and its capabilities. Hopefully by this time next year I will be using it as a tool to help me earn a monthly side-income so I can build towards my dreams.
Just maybe woodworking and creating is what I should be doing full-time. But I won’t know if I only dream. I have to put the hours and effort in.
The best part of 2023 is I refused to let myself give up when everything got too much. I did my best to not get discouraged or frustrated when everything seemed to be going (and still is) wrong. There were a lot of times where it was too much. All I could do was just focus on what I found myself doing at that moment knowing there is a lot of work in front of me that is all equal priority.
I’ve done my best to stay focused on what I know when things are changing and I don’t understand because I’m in the dark.
I did not give up when the overwhelm happened.
When 2024 begins….
As 2024 begins, I am okay.
I am still hurting. I still feel like I’m only good at disappointing and failing. I am nervous for changes I know are coming even though I know I am capable. I am going to keep fighting so maybe by the end I’ll be proud of myself.
I am going to take the time to put those photos of my nephews up on my wall to remind me why my dreams matter. So I can show them their dreams matter. Not a vision board but a why board.
I am going to take time to fill out the “Make 2024 Your BEST Year” PDF workbook I got from Mel Robbins. Then I am going to follow through. My dreams matter.
As 2024 Happens…
In 2024, there’ll be more plants going into the cottage garden. Probably, ornamental grasses, groundcover, false sunflowers, coneflowers, hardy geraniums, rose and lilac bushes and more.
I’ll start framing out the ground level patio, walkways and fire pit area. Bonus if I win the argument to expand the deck out to where she always wanted it.
This January, I will spend a lot of time researching apple trees. So I can start my own orchard. Just maybe in 3 to 5 years from now I can have my own apples to enjoy and share.
I want to get my french abilities up to a level where I can understand spoken french and be able to respond even if in basic words with confidence.
I am going to start taking better care of myself. From remembering to eat breakfast to flossing to dealing with the clutter that has built up.
I am going to start a daily gratitude journal and planner. So I can remind myself everyday where I am going, what I already have, and what small step I need to do today to get to the dream.
I will ask for help as soon as I think I need it; instead of stalling and losing time over thinking. I will push myself to speak up with my ideas instead of keeping them so close to me that I can’t gain more by letting others know what I am up to.
Yes, I am going to fail. Bring it on. I am okay with the worst case scenario. That means I can only go up.
I don’t like failing. I am tired of failing. But I am okay with failing because it means I tried and fear didn’t hold me back.
At the End of 2024…
By the end of 2024, I want to genuinely be happy, proud, and feel worthy and welcome in any room I am in. I don’t want to feel like I have to hide and blend in.
Maybe this is the time for me to take a huge risk and go all in on my own small business. Not going to easy by any measure. But maybe it’s time to make a bold move that will scare every part of me so I start the life I’ve always wanted.
At the end of 2024, I want to be able to say 2023 was and will be my hardest year ever but it gave me what I needed to make 2024 a success.
I am going to go after my dreams without compromise.
I want the the one person who has never given up on me to know I stopped giving up on myself and I am chasing that dream.
At the end of 2024, I am going to have the money I need to start looking for a run-down place to bring back to life in 2025. I may not be in a position to buy but I will have enough to start looking. I will keep planting working on the flower garden. I will have apple trees planted to start my own orchard. I will be creating projects to bring joy to others. I will be sharing my journey so others will gain the hope they need to go for their own dream.
Most of all I want the pain of failing and disappointing to stop.
I want to smile again. Not fake it. Hopefully that is not too much to ask for.
Goodbye 2023. A year that was almost too hard to withstand.