We spend the majority of our childhood years in school. We learn about math, science, english, and history. Rarely does the curriculum include the skills necessary to function successfully in society and live fulfilling lives -- how to handle finances, how to have healthy relationships, how to communicate effectively, how to manage emotions, how to cope with failure. Most of us spend the majority of our adulthood acquiring these skills. Often we attain these skills by trial-and-error. Rarely do we master them.
I enjoyed school. I was fortunate to develop behaviors that helped me do well, such as typing my papers on a word processor and saying "yes" to opportunities that came my way. While these behaviors helped me ace my classes, they paved the way for the development of unhealthy habits later in life -- perfectionism and people-pleasing, to name a few. Eventually these habits, coupled with relentless societal stresses, became toxic.
I think often about my life story. I wonder how it might be different had I learned about self-love alongside my calculus and physics classes. I would have learned about identifying my personal values and setting priorities aligned with those values. I would have learned about focusing on the things that are important to me and letting other things go. I would have learned about self-awareness and being true to myself in my interactions with others. I would have learned about listening to my body.
What I've learned about self-love has mostly been acquired in the last few years. As I've been working to shake my bad habits, I've been realizing just how much I beat myself up all those years. I want to heal what those years of stress have done to my body. I know I can't unravel the damage that has been done, but I can decide to live my life differently moving forward.
Although I boast about my rebirthdays, I'm not one who typically advertises my true birthday. This year, however, is different. Today I turn 40. As I enter a new decade of my life, I'm publicizing my vow to make this my Year of Self-Love.
This year I'm vowing to focus on establishing positive life habits. Habits that will directly promote the well-being and happiness of my body, mind, and soul. Habits that will carry me healthily into old age.
This year I'm vowing to be better in tune with my body. To more regularly recharge my me-batteries. To view rest less as a means of recovery and more as a catalyst for energy.
I'm kicking-off my Year of Self-Love with a two-month trip to India. In just a few days, I will travel to Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj, in the Himalayas. I will take a month-long yoga course, earning my 200-hour teacher training certification. Afterwards, I will spend ten days learning about buddhist philosophy and meditation at a silent retreat. The remainder of the time, I will volunteer with exiled Tibetans, a cause for which I feel deeply passionate.
I look forward to my journey over the next year. I look forward to exploring what it means to be strong on the outside and soft on the inside. I look forward to exploring what it means to be both grounded and free.
Cheers to another orbit around the sun. Cheers to a Year of Self-Love. ♥