I don’t know if it’s the cross-country move, the start of a New Year, or what it is that, for some reason, makes 2012 feel more full of possibility than any year before it. For the first time, despite some moments of depression in recent months, I have not only a general feeling that my life is mine to shape in any way I want, but the fortitude and confidence and drive to do it and shape it into something good. There’s something strange and sad about the fact that this is the first time I’m feeling that way, but I’m not going to let that make me sad or second-guess my ability to create the kind of life I want. There’s no reason why I should shuffle along being content, when what I want (and deserve), is to be happy.
But first thing’s first. This here little blog, THE TERESA JUSINO EXPERIENCE, turned two years old today! Huzzah! *throws confetti* To those of you who’ve read, commented, given feedback, and linked to me – THANK YOU! I enjoy having a platform on which to both entertain and through which to communicate what’s important to me. I hope you enjoy it, too!
Secondly, in an effort to do that happy living I mentioned above, I’ve been thinking about how I’d like to go about doing that, and I’ve come around to one main resolution I have for the year:
To live more consciously and genuinely.
That sounds so broad, doesn’t it? Also, sounds like something obvious – something that one should be doing all the time, not just as a one-time goal or resolution. I agree. The thing is, it’s something I’ve struggled with, and most of the time, it’s a struggle at which I lose. I’m someone who’s “on” a lot of the time, being cheerful and upbeat even when I don’t feel that way so as not to bring anyone down. I’m someone who has certain ideals and dreams for this world that you’d never know from my actions. In the interest of not “being a party pooper,” of not inconveniencing anyone, of making others happy, and – I’ll just come out and say it – of being loved, I’ve held a lot of myself in. I’ve held in good things, and I’ve held in bad things. One problem is that withholding the good things deprives the world of them, when I could be using my enthusiasm and talent to better it. The other problem is that holding in the bad things does nothing but make them turn inward, hurting me, and that manifests itself in all sorts of ways; ways that I wasn’t fully conscious of until very recently. Like I said, it’s been a struggle, and while it would be great to just wake up one day and say, “I’m going to be a better person,” the fact is that it’s not something one can do overnight, and it’s the kind of thing that’s so big, it would be easy to throw up one’s hands and not bother, thinking it too big a thing to accomplish.
So, manageable chunks. It’s going to be something I focus on this year. I’m not thinking about the rest of my life, or the kind of person I want to turn into, or even 2013. I’m focusing on the next 365 days and how I, in those 365 days can live more consciously and more genuinely.
What does that mean to me? Well, by living more consciously I mean engaging with myself and the world every day. I mean actually thinking about each decision I make, rather than just doing things out of habit. I mean not sleepwalking through my life. By living more genuinely, I mean putting more of myself out into the world and not being afraid of what people will think. I mean being equally honest about when I’m happy and when I’m sad. I mean trusting the people who love me when they say that they prefer it when I’m honest, and “real,” and “not on.” I’ve had several conversations with people recently to that effect; times when I’ve been so depressed about something that I haven’t been able to hold it in, and my friends respond not with the boredom or distaste that I’m afraid of, but with love and the idea that they’d rather see me being genuine. They appreciate my humor and my boisterousness, sure, but they also appreciate me when I’m not being very funny at all. I need to remember that.
Living more genuinely also means telling people how I feel about them without being snarky or ironic about it. If I love someone, I should be able to tell them so without laughing, making a face, or turning it into some kind of joke. I mean, once in a while is okay – I generally have an ironic, sarcastic sense of humor – but it’s gotten to the point where it’s almost physically impossible not to be ironic. And that, to me, is a problem. If someone does something wonderful for me, I’d like to be able to thank them without qualifiers. There’s nothing inherently good about downplaying how much you need/like/enjoy a thing. In fact, if you do – and I know this from having received it – you make the person giving you/doing the nice thing feel a little bad about having given it to you. Of course they “shouldn’t have!” But that’s the whole thing about gifts and favors – people want to give them precisely because you weren’t expecting it. They want the joy of seeing you enjoy it, and trying excessively to give it back or not accepting it graciously takes that joy away from them. Not only is being honest about how you feel about something better for you, but it makes other people feel good, too.
I plan on living my resolution for the year by focusing on the following things:
1) Living my values – this means being active in my choices as a consumer and a citizen. It will affect where I buy my food, what businesses I frequent, and who I’ll vote for. It also means being more active in my support of things. I will volunteer for organizations I believe in and give money when I can, though it really is more about active support rather than just throwing money at things. I will be more vocal about what I believe. I’ve already started doing that, but I’d like to fight my inner-censor even more. Rather than worry about “bringing the party down” or having people think less of me, if something happens or someone does something in front of me that doesn’t jibe with my sense of decency, ethics, or justice, I’m going to say something and/or do something about it. I’m not going to let the world happen to me anymore. You’ve been warned! Lastly, living my values also means treating people the way I would like to be treated, and not taking the people I care about for granted or assuming they know how I feel. I’m going to tell them. Regularly. You’ve been warned about that, too.
2) Making my outward appearance and actions reflect what I feel/believe inside - This ties into the stuff above. I want people to know what I stand for based on my actions, not just on what I tell them. However, this also extends to how I feel and what I believe about myself. Right now, at 32 years old, I feel better about myself than I ever have before. I am an accomplished, intelligent, talented woman who must be doing something right in the kindness and compassion department if I have so many wonderful friends. Then why do I eat as if I don’t care about my body, health, or well-being? Why do I dress as if I don’t care what I look like and don’t think anyone else should bother looking at me anyway? Why do I try so desperately to hide myself from people under layers of fat and ill-fitting clothing, not wearing make-up (because God forbid someone look too hard at my face), and letting my hair fall lifelessly around my shoulders? It’s the whys of these things that I’ll be looking to address this year. Notice, I didn’t say “I’m going on a diet,” or “I wanna lose __ pounds.” Saying those things has never done anything for me. My hope is that, by focusing on the whys and eliminating them, the rest will fall into place. What I want to do is make the conscious choice every day to present myself in the best way possible and do what’s best for my body, and the only way I won’t is if I have a damn good reason. (Spoiler Alert: there are very few, if any, damn good reasons.)
3) Paying attention to my spiritual self – I rush all the damn time and yet never seem to have enough hours in the day. How is that possible? Shouldn’t rushing mean that I get more stuff done and have more time at the end of the day? What I’ve realized, though, is that a lot of my “rushing” has more to do with what’s going on in my head than what I’m actually doing. I’m rushing, when what I should be doing is slowing down. I want to make time to read books. I want to write in my paper journal. I want to pray more – not just the way I usually do, with a quick thought aimed in God’s general direction, but with purpose. I want to make sure I schedule time to relax so that when I do schedule time to work, that work will be more focused. My mind darts all over the place, all the time, and it’s because I hardly ever allow myself the time to deal with what’s in there. I’m going to slow down. I’m going to make time.
This seems like a lot, but it really boils down to one thing: with every decision I make I will ask myself, “Does __________ fall in line with who I am as a person?” I will try to ask myself that question with everything I do, every day, for 365 days. Starting now.