With a new year right around the corner, I find myself reflecting on the year almost passed (it’s certainly been eventful!), plotting strategy plans for the MANY opportunities I have in front of me and goal making, hoping and praying with all I am they’ll work, and finding myself terrified they will. Wait. What? I’m afraid everything I’m planning and all the hard work I’m going to put into my hopes and dreams will WORK OUT?! That doesn’t make any sense. Oh, but it does. It really does.
I wouldn’t say 2014 was a BAD year, but it definitely had its more than fare share of challenges, trials, and adversity. I don’t feel that I’m special in this as I’ve heard the same thing from most of my friends and the people I know. I’ve found in my life that when I go through the hardest times I learn and grow the most. So, for me, 2014 was a LEARNING year. Which means 2015 will be a DOING year. And I can’t wait! I’m ready to take everything I’ve learned this year and start putting it into practice. This scares the fire out of me for two reasons: the first is that DOING is always harder than LEARNING. The second I’ve already alluded to when you first started reading. I’m terrified I will succeed.
I realized this while battling a deep depression which came over me this holiday season. I’ve always LOVED the holiday season, with all the extra love and compassion in the air, celebrating the birth of Christ, all the goodies, the warmth and joy. And I’ve always made the most of it, regardless of the situation I was in. I’ve spent Christmas in a homeless shelter. I’ve spent Christmas completely alone. One year, my mom and I were completely broke and couldn’t afford a tree (which has ALWAYS been a very big deal in my family) but we had all the decorations. So one night while she was out, I took some garland, wrapped it in lights and wrapped it along our entertainment center, hung our favorite, most sentimental ornaments and waited for her to come home. I made her close her eyes as she walked in the door, walked her right in front on my creation, told her to open her eyes and exclaimed, “Look what I made! Now we have a Tree-V!” She laughed and loved it. It was still a great Christmas. And I’ve always been like that. Until this year. This year, I couldn’t wait for it to be over and if I could have slept for 3 straight weeks, trust me. I would have.
The memories of Christmases past were just too strong, my financial struggles were just too great, my health battles just too steep, the silence of not having any family just too loud. Now I’ve faced great adversity before, many times, so you’d think I’d be an old pro at how to get through times such as these. And I do. As a Christian woman, a woman of faith, I believe it’s during these times you cling to those eternal truths and dig your heels deep into them. You read your scriptures, FEAST upon them even. You pray to Heavenly Father for support, comfort, guidance, peace, and understanding – CONSTANTLY. You seek out the wise and learned who will be able to guide and succor you while you walk the road of tribulation. And this is why I’ve always been able to get through the hard times, because I always do these things. ALWAYS. But not this time. I KNEW what I NEEDED to do, and part of me WANTED to do them, but I just couldn’t make myself actually DO them. Until one day, while mindlessly playing solitaire on my phone, watching Will & Grace, trying to block everything (and everyone) out it dawned on me what had changed me. I was scared out of my mind I would succeed, that I would be happy, have joy (REAL and LASTING joy), and my hopes and dreams really would come true. HUH? Come again? Who, in their right mind, is afraid of succeeding?! Come to find out, most of are, and is why we continue doing the same things we’ve been doing, stay content in our misery, and accept whatever scraps we’re able come up with. Because success means doing something even harder than enduring, even harder than feeling the pain life so abundantly gives us. Succeeding means we have to CHANGE. And change means doing things differently, becoming someone different, and is completely unknown. We have no idea what that success will look like, what it will be like, and means we have a whole lot more to lose once we’re there. And let’s be honest, CHANGE, any kind of change, is HARD. Really hard. But completely and totally worth it.
Once I understood this I also realized I had been completely self-sabotaging myself by not doing the things I KNEW would HELP me. And not just the spiritual things, but also the practical things that would help my day-to-day problems. Now, once I understood all of this doesn’t mean I jumped up, grabbed my scriptures and started reading, got on my knees and started praying, or finally cleaned my bathroom. But I was able to start conquering that fear, rationalizing it, and putting it in its place. I’ve heard over and over that you can’t have fear with faith. Well, I don’t really agree with that. I think there’s kind of a flip side to that coin. Or, rather, deserves a much needed explanation. And don’t get me started on ‘You have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Blah, blah, blah. (does that really HELP anybody?!)
Fear is paralyzing. Fear makes you shut down. Fear is STRONG. On the flip side, faith means ACTION. Faith is WORK. Faith is STRONGER than fear. There’s a catch though. Fear’s effects are INSTANT. Faith’s effects take TIME. Which means if you want to feel your faith OVER your fear you’re gonna have to FAKE it until you MAKE it. It means while you’re WORKING your faith you’re still going to FEEL your fear. But keep GOING! That fear will start to diminish and you’ll begin to see GOOD in your life. A beautiful, ornate wedding cake doesn’t look like much while it’s baking, and even after that you’ve still got a lot of work ahead of you with frosting and assembly before it’s complete. (great, now I want cake! I will always be the fat kid nom nom nom)
2015 holds MANY opportunities for me, has GREAT potential, and many wonderful things CAN happen – IF I’m willing to put in the WORK to make them happen, fire the HOPE to keep the dreams alive, and have the COURAGE to, are you ready for this – FAIL. Ok, hold on a second. Here I am, going on and on about conquering fear so I can succeed and I’m already anticipating failure?? Yeah, way to have HOPE. Clearly, I’ve completely lost my mind and have no idea what I’m talking about. But, wait! I do know what I’m talking about (although I may have lost my mind years ago). Stay with me. By doing so you’ll prove my next point – that in order to SUCCEED (in ANYTHING) we must first learn to ACCEPT and become FAMILIAR with FAILURE. You can’t have hot without cold. You can’t have sour without sweet. You can’t have joy without pain. You can’t have success without failure.
Most of us, include me at the top of this list, think we’re afraid to fail. We think we can’t do/be/get whatever or whoever it is we want. And the second we try and it doesn’t work, we think we’re right. WRONG! One of my favorite stories is of Thomas Edison when he invented the light bulb. Did you know he tried five-THOUSAND times before he actually made one that worked?! If that had been me, I probably would’ve given up at try 157 and started rubbing two sticks together. When asked what it was like to FAIL 5,000 times to try to create the light bulb he said, “I didn’t FAIL 5,000 times. I found 5,000 ways NOT to create a light bulb.” What?!!? Now THAT’S one hell of a perspective! For realz. This is where one of those tired platitudes really does mean something – if at first you don’t succeed, try AGAIN. And again, and again, and AGAIN. Most of the ridiculously successful people in this life failed, and failed A LOT, before finally reaching their accomplishments (and even failed AGAIN afterwards!). Steve Jobs was FIRED from the company HE started. Einstein was 26 when wrote his paper on the theory of relativity but didn’t receive the Noble Prize until he was 42. And look at Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant, greatest minds in history and look at the failure and challenges he has to face – EVERY. DAY. So if you’re looking to achieve greatness easily, to succeed while walking the path of least resistant you’re looking the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
So 2014, while incredibly hard and filled with adversity, was a year of learning. And I have to say what I’ve learned about success, and what it’s taught me about WHO I am is the greatest lesson I learned. We also learn from our mistakes, and I made a plethora in 2014! Many of them I’ve made before, but I hope I won’t make again. I once had a dear friend and very wise woman tell me it’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes, and, boy, was she right. Because I’ve also learned that when we make mistakes we hurt those around us, especially the ones closest to us who love and care about us. And I’m sure I’ve left quite a wake. I wish I could go back and correct the mistakes I’ve made, heal the hurts I’ve inflicted, mend the hearts I’ve cracked. But that can’t always be done. All you can do is be genuinely remorseful for your actions, apologize, and resolve to not do them again. I’ve found LOVING more also helps, even if it’s to a complete stranger. After all, love covers a multitude of sins (and mistakes). I think guilt can actually be a useful emotion, if used as a reminder of what NOT to do and what you SHOULD do. I don’t, however, think regret is useful. So feel guilty. Feel remorseful. Feel love. But DON’T feel regret. Live, learn, love, and then move on.
2015 will be my year of DOING. I’m going to school and getting an education, which I love. I don’t feel we can ever be TOO educated. I live in a place surround by such wonderful people and great friends I certainly don’t deserve. So many amazing opportunities to LOVE, learn to BE loved (which is what I struggle with most), and learning to love BETTER. I also finally have the chance to focus on not just being HEALTHY but also being STRONG. I have a dear friend who’s been trying to get me to be a Beachbody coach for over a year and, quite frankly, I thought she had lost her freakin’ mind! Seriously. Does she not know who she was talking to? I’m the 350 pound teenager who’s first pair of jeans was a size 24 (at age TEN). I’m the girl who just spent a life dealing with serious back issues, that had to have her spine FUSED this past summer, and now has SIX screws and two TITANIUM RODS permanently in her vertebrae. I’m the girl who’s about to have ANOTHER surgery on her knee. And you not only think I can actually DO this stuff but also coach OTHERS to do it. See, she’s lost her mind! Right?
Not really. I started setting personal goals for myself once I started HEALING from having my spine fused. Living in Provo, Utah I’ve always wanted to hike the Y. Which is a pretty intense hike; it’s a little under a mile in a little over a THOUSAND feet at over a 5,000 foot elevation. I was too fat and out of shape when I first moved to Utah to do it, and my back injury wouldn’t even let me consider it when I came back from London. After my surgery I eagerly sought my surgeon’s advice about when I’d be able to get my Y hike on. I barely got out ‘It’s been a dream of mine to hike the Y before it snows this year’ when he cut me off and verbatim said, ‘Yeah, let that dream go. You won’t be able to hike the Y until next year.’ Well, I don’t like being told I CAN’T do something. I’ve always liked a challenge. (this is both a good and bad thing) So I began looking for workouts I COULD do and would strengthen my core (which will help your back). I found a couple of workouts that really worked for me and, while I couldn’t do everything they did, I was able to do MOST of what they did. It also taught me something invaluable when it comes to physical fitness -MODIFICATION. Just because YOU can’t do what THEY’RE doing doesn’t mean what you ARE doing doesn’t MATTER. And come BYU’s homecoming game, when the Y was all lit up at night, I found myself sitting AT the Y, drinking hot chocolate. I’ve been back FOUR more times. YOU can do ANYTHING you want, so long as you find what works for YOU.
I’m looking forward to the coming year, with all the promise and opportunity it holds. I’m looking forward to mending friendships and the wrongs I’ve made. I’m looking forward to the new friendships I’m going to make and the new people I get to learn from. I’m looking forward to helping others lead a healthier, happier lifestyle while also helping myself. I’m looking forward to new experiences I never dreamed of having. I’m looking forward to SOARING past the goals I’ve made for this year, not just meeting them. I’m looking forward to doing that by FAILING. I’m looking forward to living a life full of FAITH by feeling FEAR. I’m looking forward. And I hope you are, too.