2017 Reflections; 2018 Changes

In 2017 I felt like I had been wandering in the dark for so long, completely unsure of what direction to head in, but I finally feel like I’m going the right way. Honestly, it’s a great feeling. Sometimes I even catch myself wondering if I’m not actually happy and that my elated mood is all a clever ruse, but so far I haven’t been able to come up with any proof for that theory.

Something that has been so fulfilling for me throughout 2017 has been the podcast I co-host called Make New Friends. If you couldn’t tell by the title, Make New Friends is a weekly podcast about friendship! I’ve written about friendship during my 2016 photo journal a few times, but MNF has been such an incredible outlet for me. Researching about different types of friendships and digging deep into the type of friend I am has been instrumental in helping me get out of the friendship rut I’ve been in for so long. Plus, I’m co-hosting alongside my good friend Mary Akemon, so each episode is really fun and packed with laughter!

So since it’s now 2018, what are my passions? How am I occupying my time? Well, first of all, I’ve decided that I’m going to do the things that I actually want to do. One of those things has been working with chocolate. My dad is a HUGE chocoholic so perhaps my passion for chocolate runs in the family, but nonetheless I’ve been channeling a large part of my creativity toward tempering chocolate and making truffles! Each Monday I’ll set up in the kitchen and spend the morning working on my creations until I run out of dark chocolate.

It’s been so nice to listen to podcasts and toil away over silicone molds, knowing that the end result will be a lovely little morsel that’ll put a smile on someone’s face, even if it’s just mine! Chocolatiering isn’t terribly easy, and it requires a good amount of patience and planning to get it right, however I do feel like it’s another one of my hidden talents — and I’m happy to exploit it!

Aside from making chocolates by hand, I’ve also started up another podcast in my spare time. Ambitions! is a weekly half-hour podcast with me and my husband as we hold each other accountable for our new year goals. It’s a lot more relaxed than Make New Friends, and we only have a few episodes out so far but I’m really enjoying sharing a new side of my personality with people.

Another thing I’ve been doing to occupy my time is ballet! I really look forward to ballet class; I always come away feeling lighter and happier. Ballet has helped me get in touch with my body in a way that I haven’t been able to get from going to the gym. Rather than being all about strength and endurance, I find the challenge of balancing and having good form to be a fantastic mental (and physical) exercise. I’m always learning something new about the way my body moves, and I often come away surprised at how much I’m actually able to do!

Ballet has also helped a lot with my anxiety. I remember at the first ballet class I went to, I nearly died from how nervous and incompetent I felt compared to all of the other people in the class. It seemed like everyone already knew all of the moves, despite the fact that we were in a beginner’s ballet class! I came away from the whole experience feeling like a huge idiot, and I think I nearly cried, but the following week I went back and I am so glad that I did. Each week that I returned, I came away feeling as though I had shed a layer of weight from my shoulders. By the end of the term, I even felt comfortable enough to make polite conversation with the other people in my class — something I never would have dreamed of doing on day one!!

Last year I battled a lot with my anxiety and I would be lying if I said I have it all figured out, but what I can tell you is that the more neutral and positive experiences I’ve had in anxiety-inducing situations, the further away my anxiety has felt. There are times when I “chicken out” of doing stuff, like ordering a drink at the bar or returning something at a shop, although I can tell you that I’m more likely to answer the door when someone knocks, and I have an easier time talking to people on the phone than I used to. To people who don’t experience social anxiety, it may not seem like a terribly big deal, but it is to me. In the end, that’s all that matters!

I really feel like this year is going to be my year. There’s just no way I’m gonna let anything break my stride, you know? I’m super determined, and isn’t that half the battle?

I think the mistake I made in 2017 with my “goals” is that none of them were contributing toward my ultimate goal of making myself a better person. “Get a job” and “get a license” are fine things to want for yourself, but they’re not that important in the grand scheme. They’re just markers of progress as stipulated by society, and I’m not super keen on forcing myself into a box just to seem “successful” to other people. I would much rather feel confident and fulfilled on a day-to-day basis, so that’s what I’m going to do.

2018 is all about making and doing the things that I am passionate about, and if the last few weeks have been any indicator of what the rest of the year holds, then I think I’m off to a great start.