Starting Anew (Year)

It’s New Year’s Day 2020.

This is not a new year, new me post.

This is a new year, accepting the me that always has been post.

I’ve been on an extended break from work for the last 10 days, and frankly, it’s been pretty glorious and simultaneously weirdly torturous.  I’ve gotten a few “productive” things done (some work-related, some family-related, some life-related), but really, I spent at least the first week either sick or super burnt out.

I was worried that my degree of burn out was so extensive, at the end of 2019, that I wouldn’t want to write again ever.  And I have a lot of writing projects ahead in 2020 so I was really not about that non-writing life.  But, I also could not bring myself to be about the writing life or the academic life.  I was just so tired and so defeated that even my usual achievement-oriented, grin-and-bear-it, just keep moving, always-grateful self felt completely exhausted.

A few days ago, I really started to worry.  I was still tired.  I still had a hacking cough.  I still felt like 2020 was coming for me and I wasn’t ready.

I felt really lost.

I felt like so much of 2019 and the latter part of 2018 was about a search, a search to figure out who I am, who I should be, what my legacy will be.

I felt like whatever I might find at the end of that search would lead me to the realization that I was failing miserably despite trying so hard all the time.

I felt like I was climbing a constant sand dune that was sinking faster than I could move forward.

When I have felt similar feelings in the past, I usually bury them (or distract myself) by getting back to work — even though I am exhausted because there is always more work to do.

But this time, I just really didn’t want to do that.  What I wanted more than anything was just to stop feeling like such a failure, all the time.

At some point, maybe gradually, maybe suddenly, I realized that I am not my feelings.  I feel like a failure, somewhat regularly, but I am not a failure. I mean, objectively, it’s pretty clear that I’m not a failure.

I fail. I mean, we all fail from time to time if we’re trying for things that are challenging, but failing doesn’t actually mean I’m a failure unless I make it mean that.  And even when I do fail, I’m loved.

This all may seem extremely basic, but sometimes the simplest things are the most profound when they come at the time when you most need them.

So it’s a new year, a time to start anew, a time to learn to accept who I am, to reconstruct an identity not grounded in success as self-worth, to try with my whole heart, and know that either I’ll succeed or I won’t, but it doesn’t have to define me.

And the year starts with a blog post.  It’s a hopeful sign of what’s to come.

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