2019: Year in Review (sort of)

It’s the end of the year and the time when people start to think about new year’s resolutions and what they achieved in the last year. It’s a natural time of reflection, even if ‘new year, new me’ mantras aren’t your thing- you can’t help but think about it because there’s a sort of deadline. 

I’m not going to do that. I kind of already touched on this when I wrote about our 5th wedding anniversary. I *could* talk about the things I’ve achieved this year and say how amazing some of the things I’ve done have been. But I’m not going to, because I don’t want my life to read like a list of bullet points on a CV. 
To summarise my 5 year anniversary post, I find the pressure people put themselves under to have the Instagram perfect life worrying. And a bit sickening. Sure, you can look like you have an amazing marriage/life/family on social media, but is it really? And does it have to be perfect every second of every day? No. Because that’s not what life is about. It can’t be and shouldn’t be perfect every second of every day because nothing is perfect. And if it were, I’m pretty sure people would compare levels of perfection somehow too!
What I’ve discovered in the last 18 months or so is that life isn’t about the things you can list at the end of the year and say you’ve done or achieved. Don’t get me wrong, accomplishments are definitely important in life, but stick with me and I’ll try to explain what I mean! 
If you really put your mind to it and had unlimited access to money and were invincible, anyone could achieve anything. Climbing Mount Everest? You could do it. Become a CEO of a company? You could do that too. Give everything up and live in the jungle? You get the idea. A list of achievements isn’t really that big a deal if it’s just a ‘thing’ you’ve done.
Add in some restrictions or limitations, and that’s when it gets a bit more tricky. You couldn’t climb Mount Everest if you’re paralysed. You couldn’t become a CEO if you didn’t have the funds to invest. You couldn’t live in the jungle if you hadn’t learnt how to survive in the jungle, you’d get eaten on your first day. Suddenly these things become more of an achievement than just a ‘thing’. Why? Because it’s not just something to put on a list, it actually took effort to do those things. Or you had to adapt them to fit your circumstances. 
What makes it more than just a tick on the list? The feeling that comes with it. The sense of accomplishment, the rush of pride, the elation that something that seemed out of reach isn’t anymore. The ability to be able to share in your success with other people and celebrate it. In short, happiness. 
The first thing I’ve learnt is that while life might be made up of accomplishments, that’s not what makes us happy. It’s the feelings that you associate with those accomplishments. Unless you do something really noteworthy in life, like be the next Martin Luther King, realistically no one really cares about your checklist of achievements. They’re personal to you, and because they’re personal to you and how you feel about them, it should become less about the thing and more about the feeling associated with them.
I used to be all about accomplishments. Head of faculty before I’m 30, tick. Married before I’m 30, another big tick. Homeowner, charity volunteer, some cool holidays, tick, tick, tick. Was I happy doing those things? Yep definitely. Now I’m housebound a lot and really not very healthy. But am I any less happy now that I’m not on such a high achievement track? No, actually, I think I have more sense of accomplishment, pride and feeling of elation doing the simple things in life than I ever did the big things. 
I appreciate things more. I’m not just looking for the next big thing to challenge myself with. I enjoy what are really quite basic things. I don’t just look for the next thing on the horizon, I enjoy the meandering road to get there. I don’t consider the day to be wasted if I haven’t done something noteworthy by 3pm. If I had a nice day doing nothing but watching tv then that’s better than feeling anxious bit accomplished in having rushed around all day.
When I look back on my life, I’m positive I’ll look at the stuff I achieved but overall I’ll want to know that I was happy with *all* of my life. Not fragments of it. Because without invincibility, unlimited money and determination, most people won’t achieve everything they want to in life, but they can achieve an overall feeling of having had a good life. The big stuff counts, for sure, but it’s the seemingly mundane stuff in between that makes up the most of your life. 
I get a lot of joy from crocheting. I like watching how colours coordinate, I love being able to create things from a ball of yarn and it challenges me a bit every day. Does that seem like a big achievement to anyone else by itself? No. But do I enjoy doing it and does it make me happy? Yes. And it’s about all I can manage every day. I also like watching masterchef Australia most nights with my husband. We like talking about what’s going on and then he makes me laugh when he’s cooking and he’s quoting George and Gary talking about preparing a 3 hat dish (‘Taste, taste, taste’) while he’s making me something basic nachos. It’s not instagram worthy by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s those memories I think about when I’m feeling a bit low over the amazing CV worthy stuff. 
I think I have had some noteworthy achievements in 2019. But they’re things I’m proud of because I *feel* proud of them. And it’s the feeling I remember more than the achievement. They probably don’t mean much to someone who’s climbed Everest, but they matter to me, I celebrated them with people who care about me, and that’s all that’s important. Because life is made up of feelings and emotional responses to things more than the actual things itself. By all means, shout about your achievements of 2019 and be proud of them on social media. But remember the feeling that came with them more than caring about trying to make it look like a huge achievement for other people’s benefit. 

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