I write this letter from Japan, a spontaneous working holiday after a wonderful, busy summer with my lovely family and friends back home in the US.
This morning, I realized that I am on my way to becoming the best human being I can be. This morning, I realized that I require space, solitude and reflection in order to continue growing. So this morning, I made a few promises to myself.
These promises are meaningful to me for a couple standout reasons:
- I didn’t realize how much I needed time on my own until the past couple days. This year, I’ve actually barely spent any quality time alone. I’ve obligated myself to so much and kept myself so busy that I didn’t realize I needed time to be me. To be obligation-free. To be worry-free.
- Over the summer, I found an old journal. Inside, I found a list of things I wanted at the fresh age of 20. It was a time many (including myself) knew me to be naive.
But this journal…
How can I describe the emotions I felt when I picked this up after over half a decade? I wrote things like:
- I want to be educated enough to have an opinion.
- I want to step back and ask myself, “what gives me the right to be judging this person?”
- I want to have something to teach my peers.
- I want to compliment others.
- I want to be a part of a community.
As I went down this list, I thought of how much I’ve improved with each bullet point (although, I didn’t continue to learn Japanese…).
Knowing I’ve put in work towards what I wrote down I wanted when I was 20… that is chilling. Humbling.
We spend a lot of time criticizing ourselves, thinking about all that we’re not. Comparing our lives to the highlight reels of everyone on Instagram.
But we spend less time looking back at what we’ve achieved. The slow, humble work we put in to become the person we want to be.
Hi, I’m Krista.
If we haven’t met before, hello. I’m Krista! I started this blog because I wanted to (not-so-politely) say no to living the conventional lifestyle everyone told me was the path I had to follow.
I didn’t understand why chasing the American dream meant juggling debt for the next unforeseeable future – taking on a car loan, and after that a home mortgage. I didn’t understand why adults would tell me working an insufferable job was a part of the journey towards the “American dream.”
After graduating from university, I kept changing my mind about what to do. I shifted from career to career, from place to place. Some called me careless, some called me reckless – but silently I knew that with every step, I was making a calculated risk.
I started publicly blogging in general to empower women to say yes to taking calculated risks – calculated risks beyond Monopoly, beyond The Game of Life, beyond Settlers of Catan.
I haven’t published a lot of my own writing recently… and I’m going to really explore why in this post.
I’m tired of disappointing people.
One thing I’ve realized these past few days on my own is I’m so sick of disappointing people.
My memory keeps flashing back to all the fights that happened because I couldn’t live up to someone’s expectations.
Flashing back to the people I hurt because I couldn’t give all they wanted me, expected me, to give.
Flashing back to the expectation to contribute, to participate, to be here, to do that, to say something, to be something, to…
It’s overwhelming. But the truth is, I don’t have to accept that disappointment from others.
So that brings me to this – this letter, this series of promises I’m making to myself.
Promise #1: Schedule time to reflect
This year, I’ve practiced drawing some serious boundaries. And drawing these boundaries wasn’t as easy as drawing a line in the sand.
Again, this year I’ve kept myself busy.
If I saw an evening where I would possibly be alone, I filled it with something to do. Karaoke night. Inviting someone to play video games. Going out to dinner. Then drinks. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It’s been a fab year. I’ve made some incredible friendships and connections.
But holy hell, have I realized, I can only be my best self if I give myself time alone to reflect. It’s good to be grateful in the moment, but I can only strengthen my gratitude muscle if I give myself the time to practice it on my own.
Four months ago, I had a very emotional anxiety attack. It was like I snapped out of what I thought was “a need to be busy” but was really my attempt to disguise how numb I was to what was going on.
It still makes me pause when I reflect back on it.
And now I’m alone, in Japan. Enjoying being alone. Enjoying the time to reflect.
I’m not my best person when I’m busy, numbing myself to what’s going on around me. I’m my best person when I give myself time to reflect, analyze, and grow. And thus also give to and love what’s going on around me.
So Promise #1 I made to myself: schedule time to reflect.
Promise #2: Surround yourself with positive people
I am my best self when I’m positive, and I get a lot of energy when I’m surrounded by contagiously positive people. I dream of floating off on a cotton candy cloud of positivity, giggling in a circle with everyone I love, every second of every day.
lol, okay, that’s a bit much.
Recently, I let my friend Jenn know about a negative, discouraging comment someone made about startups that triggered a negative emotion from me.
“I wonder where that person is coming from, and what makes them look down on startups,” she said.
It’s moments like that, where my friends (and family) prompt me to come from a place of understanding, that make me realize I’m doing something right.
To be honest, I get caught up in negative circlejerks. But that never feels right. In fact, it feels draining. Getting caught up in circles of negativity makes me feel like I’m building a dome around myself instead of allowing myself to grow.
So, Promise #2 I made to myself: surround yourself with positive people.
Promise #3: Give generously, receive gratefully
My Aunty Diane says this is something my Grandma has said: Give generously, receive gratefully.
The first feelings I get when people give something to me are shame, paranoia, maybe even embarrassment.
But my friend Lydia put it perfectly to me the other night: if you wanted to give something to someone, how would you want them to receive it?
Some things I’ve learned over the years: what you give, comes back. It’s silly, isn’t it? There are parts of my life I feel can be a circle of giving. At first I thought the circle of giving was pointless. Until I realized it feels good to give. It feels good for me to give, it feels good for others to give.
And so, Promise #3 I made to me: give generously, receive gratefully.