The year is 2022, there is approximately 24 hours of the year left to go (give or take depending on which time zone you are in). Each year I seem to find myself in the same place, post-Christmas, post food coma… feeling lost in this in between period. Between the end of one year and the start of another. As we are all too aware, the New Year comes with heavy expectations from everyone and sometimes just from ourselves. For some more positive types, there is this bubbling of excitement for the unknown and start of something new… For some of us, more introverted types and overthinkers alike, the New Year’s bubble can bubble up some anxiety. However, this year, feels different, the anxiety I am now kin with, but something new has been brewing beneath the year end of 2022. Let me take you back for a moment to the end of December 2021, as we were about to start a new year, after the pandemic… looking back it was a year of firsts for many, a renewal of perspectives after a heavy few years. I wrote the piece below at that time, lost in the haze of the unknown and I look back at something I was pondering and wrote back then… “Maybe the act of simply being yourself is enough”.
I ended the year of 2021, in hope as I meant to go on, at one with trying to figure out what it meant to be enough just as ourselves. It has taken a year and somewhat of an uphill struggle, but I was given a destined gift this year; of stumbling onto the Storytelling Lab Instagram page. I would see the posts, look back, look away, no maybe now isn’t the right time, not yet, next time. Around this time of indecision, I gifted myself a last-minute ticket to see Elizabeth Day’s wonderful How to Fail Podcast live in London; I went, I adored at the lessons learnt, opened the door and left a little wiser. A few hours later by sheer coincidence, I bumped into her with my cocktail in hand, totally by chance an hour or so later… With the Storytelling lab, at the brink of mind, I thanked her for sharing the page (where I had originally found Bonnie), as the Storytelling Lab Instagram page alone at that point had bought so much reassurance and comfort through the resounding and underlying ‘yes you can’ within each post. Within moments, she turned to me and said “If you’re thinking of the STL, you must do it, you won’t regret it”. It felt kismet, pure chance, tipping my thoughts from - what if, to why not now?
Within the next few days, I had arranged a call with Bonnie, connected almost instantly and before I knew it, I was signed up and ready to take a chance on myself and follow through with it. Weeks later and now we are at the end of year 2022 and at the end of the Storytelling Lab 2022 Winter sessions and I can confidently say, that it was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Bonnie and the five incredibly talented women, I had the pleasure of collaborating, discussing and sharing vulnerabilities with; helped open up my own voice to myself and serve the reminder that we are ‘already enough just as we are’. It is the world that made us forget it, the Storyteller within you is there and Bonnie helps draw it out of you, with her generous wisdom and warm encouragement.
If you are thinking of signing up, do it. You will not regret it, not even for a moment. It took a year solid and the Storytelling Lab part one; but alas, I can share with you that the act of simply being myself is enough. Happy 2023 to come and may the below, serve as a reminder from my soul to yours for each year to come.
If you are anything like me, then the run up to New Year’s holds a bag of mixed emotions with it. This always starts right after the festivities of Christmas phase out, as our generation begins to collectively mock the blur of time between the 25th December and the 1st January through memes and humorous tweets. As New Year’s Eve approaches, we begin to see social media posts captioned “My year in review” spring up from every corner of our social media worlds. One could say that this is an opportunity to look back and appreciate and be grateful for all of the wonderful things that may have happened to a person that year. However, for some of us, the year of 2021 may not have gone according to plan, particularly during the second year of a Global Pandemic. These posts can make us compare our own lives to others and overthink the “year in review” of our own lives. For some of us, our own internal mirrors can see a reflection of comparison and cast a shadow on a year that we should be celebrating for simply surviving. Alongside these posts, we also start to see ‘New Year’s resolutions’ pour through our phones, from countless emails and from friends near and far, with messages and posts titled “New Year, New Me.”
We see resolutions that tell us to “start fresh”—erase who you are. “Work harder”—you’ve not done enough. “Start a diet”—your imperfections are showing. The volume of phrases that swell amongst our society on the cusp of New Year’s can almost be deafening. It is an act of pure rebellion to stop and to reflect on the saying of “New Year, New Me” and to silence the noise of society’s whisper that we are not good enough.
The multiple waves of the pandemic have given me an opportunity to sit back and reflect into the depths of who I am. It has allowed me the opportunity of time to let go of the layers of myself that have burdened me. I silently began to shed the weight of beliefs that I was carrying that did not belong to me. If you had asked the younger version of me about the beliefs that were burdening me, I would not have been able to differentiate between my own beliefs and the ideas that I was taught through the years of conditioning that our culture had put upon me. Through a constant bombardment throughout our lives of ways in which we should change.
If we wade through the noise of New Year’s and we breathe into the space of who we really are, we begin to see that maybe it is okay to see in New Year’s without that noise. Maybe it is okay if you want to post a “year in review,” and maybe it is also okay to not want to participate or even view friends and families posts of their “year in review.” Maybe it is okay if you want to shout, “New Year, new me.” But it is equally okay if you simply want to say, “New Year, same me.”
Maybe the act of simply being yourself is enough.
Maybe surviving a global pandemic is an achievement itself.
Maybe we can offer ourselves personal applause instead, in celebration of the mountains within our minds and souls that we have climbed and may still be climbing.
Maybe it is enough to wake up on the first day of a new year as the same us, with equal parts of being enough and with open hearts with hope for more. Without needing to change, replace, or compare the parts of us and our lives that have carried us through the year of 2021.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish you a peaceful and happy New Year and hope that you know that you are enough just as you are. This may be the start of another year, but with each passing moment, there is always hope. Hope for the same us that has survived a global pandemic, to a future where there is hope to flourish, with the same courageous spirit that got us through the year of 2021. I am happy that you are here in this present moment, and my wish for you in the year 2022 is that you choose to renew your sense of hope. Brighter times will always arrive after the darkness, even if right now, we can just about see the horizon.
New Year, same me, and for that I am grateful.