I honestly can’t believe we are about to leave 2016 behind. From what I’ve heard after talking to a large cohort of people, and even simply looking at some of the recently-made online memes, I am sensing that this was not a good year for too many people. It’s a shame, because every year on New Year’s Eve, people gather excitedly at concerts and fancy parties to eagerly watch one year’s mistakes, challenges, and misfortunes fade into the next year’s blank slate of hope and opportunity. We all want to believe that next year will be better. Little do we realize, that is all up to us.
One thing I have come to realize, is that we all need to take more responsibility for our own lives. Each of us holds more power than we give ourselves credit for. We have the power to change a lot of what makes us so unhappy. There are very few things that truly make us stuck. Now, lest you forget, I am currently spouting this off as I am stuck with an illness that completely turned my life upside down. But I am fully prepared to reveal my not-so-private secret with you all. The secret to never truly being stuck in a place or a situation, is your mindset. When you feel that a significant amount of power has been taken away from you in your life, it is your reaction to those events that has the opportunity to give you that power back.
In my 2016, I was stuck with a terrible illness. However, what I did not have to be stuck with was the self-pity, anger, fear, or sadness that could have so easily been served up as side dishes with my entree of misfortune. We all need something that gives us a purpose. Fulfilling a purpose is a large component of happiness, in my opinion. Based on this simple algorithm, when something drastic changes or has been taken away from you (like losing your job or getting sick, etc.), you need to redefine your limits to see what it is that you CAN do. For example, I love helping people. At the beginning of the year I was fulfilling that purpose by working as a nurse. With the many debilitating symptoms I am currently dealing with, I can’t be a nurse now. However, along with my mindset secret I’m sharing, I’m here to tell you that your story should never end with a can’t statement, not even mine. In fact, that is a sure fire way to remain unhappy.
When I thought about my need for an ‘interim purpose’, I recognized that along with helping people, I also love to write. I had become friends with several other chronically ill individuals via Instagram, and a few of them had blogs. Those blogs helped me to feel less alone, so I started to realize the tremendous power they had to help people. Thus, my blogging idea was born. Unfortunately, due to my condition, I did not get started as soon as I wanted or write as many entries as I hoped, but I did it! And that my friends, is what I choose to focus on. In addition to this blog (thank you, readers, for giving me my interim purpose), I have also started writing some articles for advocacy sites for others with disabilities and a variety of illnesses. For the most part, those articles have consisted of sharing my own personal story. I have always been an open person because I believe that truly does have the power to make people feel that they are not alone. Sharing my story has also given me ample time for self-reflection throughout this important journey. By sharing my own story, there is also the possibility, and the hope, that someone out there has experienced something similar and actually has a diagnosis. With this thought process, I think we all have the chance to help each other.
I can’t in good conscience talk about how important it is to focus on your mindset to better a shitty situation without also telling you that even I couldn’t follow my own advice for the whole year. I had times when I let myself succumb to anger and occasionally sadness. But those were moments when I really struggled with seeing a way out of this. Every time I lost my hope and will to fight this year, I thought about my family and close friends. And I fought for them until I had the willpower back to fight for myself. When my flame started to flicker out, I stayed lit for the sole reason of not wanting my people to be caught in the dark. They are the reasons I even remembered I was a candle in the first place. With the right fuel behind your fight, or new year’s resolution, YOU can make anything happen. If we remember to take responsibility for ourselves, fulfill a purpose that speaks to us, react positively in negative situations, believe in each other, help one another, and smile! then I think 2017 has a lot of potential.
Be safe ringing in the new year and may you all be happy, healthy, and loved in 2017. xox