What a year it’s been, to say the least! It feels bittersweet to say goodbye to 2013, but I’m grateful that the New Year is a socially determined time of transition, because I’m definitely ready to move forward. Initially, I planned to live by all of the typical New Year mantras, like “out with the old, in with the new” and “new year, new you.” But as much as I want to let go and leave the past year behind me, I woke up this morning as the same Emily I’ve always been – and that’s okay, or at least, it will be okay.
The end of 2013 hit me hard. I had spent the majority of last year and the year before focusing all my energy on someone else. In October, that backfired miserably. I have always worked so hard to find acceptance and love from others, placing all my self-worth in the eyes of those around me. This has been a constant pattern for me, so much so that I never allowed feelings of worth and respect to develop strong internal roots.
But I don’t want to overhaul myself entirely. This year doesn’t need to be about reinventing myself. I don’t want to wake up one morning and discover a new me. Instead, I want this to finally be the year I learn to love myself first and always. This means I need to stop questioning and start embracing what I’m proud of. Because even when I do something awesome, I usually still need someone to talk me into how awesome it is. And trust me, I’m not saying this to toot my own horn. I’m saying it because I think this kind of behavior is a universal part of being human. It’s most definitely not exclusive to disabled people. Most of us, myself included, are so quick to be self-deprecating instead of taking an opportunity here and there to say “damn right, I’m awesome!” We’re more likely to be on a constant lookout for the things we think we need to fix, often for the sake of others, even when there’s nothing really “wrong” with us to begin with.
I, for one, am tired of being like this. I want to value myself the way I deserve. And no, this doesn’t mean going ahead and thinking everything is always dandy. I know part of this year will include taking a long, hard look at myself and determining what I need to work on. But what I already know for sure is that I don’t need to work on becoming a whole new Emily. I need to work on self-worth, self-love, and self-acceptance exactly as I am.
So here’s to 2014, the year of loving and accepting me for me – who I am, who I’ve been, and who I’m becoming. Happy New Year, everyone!