On New Year’s Day, at brunch with two of my closest friends, the subject of resolutions for the new year came up. New Year’s has always been a favorite holiday of mine, the end of one year and the beginning of the next symbolizing a chance to accomplish goals, pursue dreams, or just plain start over. My insistence each year on that first day of January to eagerly run through our collective resolutions was a tradition not wholly embraced by my friends, but being the friends they are, they humored me at the very least. Mimosas didn’t hurt either.
Some years held more ambitious resolutions than others – ranging from the predictable (exercising more) to the mundane (flossing daily) to the downright aspirational (falling in love). My resolution just one year earlier was on the more optimistic end of the spectrum – I declared, after consuming a bevy of bubbly beverages, that 2015 was to be my best year yet. “This is my year.” And I believed it.
As the year progressed, I painstakingly noted at each juncture – every family gathering, every save the date that arrived in the mail, every baby announcement I came across on Facebook – that nothing was changing. But this was to be my best year ever. Where had I gone wrong?
It took me a long time (my whole life?) to realize that if what I want is change, I need to get off my ass and change. Imagine that.
So on New Year’s Day, as we sipped our mimosas and casually gazed at the passers-by heading to their own brunches, my friends began to spout off their resolutions. To host more parties. To hit a new mile pace. To order less take-out. As I listened to them rattle off their carefully thought out ideas, it occurred to me that I’d given my own resolutions for the upcoming year no thought at all. If my bold declaration the year prior didn’t do me any good, what would any other assertion do for me now?
So when my friends turned to me expectantly, I had to admit I hadn’t given it much thought. Being the instigator of this resolution-sharing trust circle for all of our New Year’s past, I would imagine this came off as a bit alarming to my friends. So I appeased them with the following statement: “I’m just gonna do me this year.” A simple concept with a not so simple pathway.
With this credo in mind, I started to think about what it is I needed to accomplish or change in order to “do me.” The easiest thing to add to the “change” list was my work life – certainly working long hours at a job I felt in many ways was as thankless and unfulfilling as they come wasn’t the path. Add to that the current state of my social life (which consisted mostly of Indian takeout and Magic Mike). But my job is my job. And my life is my life. And if I want to do something else, what is it? And how do I discover that? And once I have it figured out, what do I do about it? Who will help me? Who will hire me?
And the questions went on. I’ve found that there’s only a certain amount of soul-searching and reality-questioning I can do before I push myself to a state of complete emotional paralysis. I kept finding myself in a vicious cycle of inner reflection leading to deep-seeded anxieties and resulting in complete abandonment of the task at hand.
Through the dogged pursuit of prioritizing my priorities, and through much anxiety, uncertainty, and at some points, panic, I finally arrived at a solution that I felt covered my needs. Leave the job that was making me unhappy. Find a new one that I’m passionate about. Resurrect the friendships and activities that I love. And move to Italy.
And even though the decision is made, the flights are booked, and the apartment is rented, I still don’t know precisely how moving to Italy will help me achieve my newly set goals. But I do know that it’s something I’ve dreamed of doing for years. I know that it feels right, right now. And a dear friend once told me that everything I need is inside me, and that I should trust myself to know what the best decision is for me. I know this is it.
I’ve been lucky enough so far to have the support of friends, family, strangers, co-workers, mentors…the advice they’ve lent me has steadily given me the focus and strength I needed to go through with this decision and put a plan in motion. Rather than waiting for pieces to fall into place, I’m placing them myself. I realize that I can’t plan for everything, that there will be bumps in the road – spilled milk if you will – but I do know that I’m taking control of what I can control. And it feels good. I feel happy and empowered. I’m not drawing out my destiny, but I’m skewing the path that leads to it. Good or not, I’m putting myself on a new and different trajectory.
There’s a lot of uncertainty that I’m forced to face now, and will surely have to deal with in the coming months. But at this point, that uncertainty feels better, and newer, and more exciting, than the certainty I’ve been able to depend on all these years.
Not having a solid plan in place is incredibly uncomfortable for me. Not knowing if I can afford my apartment when I return is terrifying. Not having a job or a source of income to come back to is panic-inducing. But, change brings change. In order to take a leap, you have to accept some amount of uncertainty – no risk no reward, right?
So here, at the very beginning of my journey, I feel hopeful. I hope I’m making the right decision for myself. I hope I don’t regret doing this. I hope I don’t feel like a failure if it doesn’t work out the way I’d like. I hope I can hold on to this clarity and positivity I suddenly feel. I hope this is great, and that it’s life-changing. So, here goes everything.