This year I made promises to myself versus resolutions, because an assurance seemed more unbreakable than a firm decision. To end 2016, I wanted to find another quote that I liked as much as Hannah Arendart’s that I started out this year with. For those of you who haven’t read my initial post, here is the quote again:
Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future, making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanly possible. ~ Hannah Arendt
It’s classically OCD of me to want to organize the world and make it as predictable for myself as I can, but over the course of this year I’ve come to terms with futility of trying to make the world predictable (resistance is futile). Now I think my year went more like this quote from The Fault in Our Stars:
“Some people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them.”
“Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.”
~ John Green
And with that, here’s a recap of The Promises 2016 and where I ended up…
This year I wanted to make things. I would write more, cook, draw, blog, take more photos etc. because creating something that you believe is great, tangible, and lasting is one of the best feelings in life. I work in software, and while I get to coordinate the launch of features that have a huge impact on people and also feels amazing, it’s different. The things that I make for myself feels far more rewarding. In a way this blog is my version of the Wayback Machine for the things I’ve created for me. It’s trying to have a “stupid laugh” everyday.
stupid laugh — A laugh that bursts out awkwardly, loud and honest when you’ve done something surprising that you’re extremely happy with.
This year I’ve:
- Taught an online cooking class on Skillshare
- Re-learned calligraphy
- Made XLBs from scratch
- Devised some new recipes for sous vide and Instant Pot
- Made a casual cosplay outfit for Comic Con
- Organized a bachelorette party in New Orleans
- Learned how to make flower arrangements
- Wrote a heartfelt MoH speech and delivered it
- Made a delicious uni and oysters pasta night
- Took a plethora of travel photos
- Also amazingly enough my blog was profitable this year! ie. the hosting fees were covered by affiliates or other revenue streams thanks to having a blog.
But when I thought about what made me happiest this year, it was creating community and fostering friendships.
- On my birthday this year, I wanted to let my friends know how important gestures of kindness are to me. As we are getting old it becomes more difficult to dedicate time to each other as our life pursuits and events get in the way, but we have a choice to say “I care” even if it is in a quick way, and I am grateful. For every person who messaged me before or on the day of my birthday I donated 5 dollars to a charity, and my company matches this donation dollar for dollar. Vivian, Cindy, and Carol surprised me by doing similarly for their birthdays and it felt amazing.
- Every new friendship that I have made this year on all my adventures and old friends who have made time for me this year I appreciate you so much. Thank you for keeping me sane, teaching me things about the world, your experiences, for sharing your life with me, and being open to letting me share mine with you. Through our shared experiences I’ve become a better creator, if that makes any sense at all.
When I wrote this promise initially, I meant physically strong because being physically strong is an empowering feeling. As this year progressed however, I realized there were more situations that challenged my mental fortitude. While I persevered, it was not easy. Whereas Costa Rica last year was invigorating. Hiking Machu Picchu was the most sleep deprived and exhausted I’ve ever been.
In additional to the promises I made to myself, I made several promises to others this year, a couple spoken and some unsaid. These promises were by far what tested my strength. It was hard to consistently be present or available for anyone when I was being pulled in many directions (whether it be work, relationships, and family). For me, emotional energy is a limited quantity and I need down time to myself to recharge. While the vacations helped as mini-resets, what I should have done was just taken a couple weekends to sit at home and take care of myself.
For those who I spent the bulk of my time with this year, I’m being completely honest in telling you I did not fully understanding the level of devotion the promises I made to you would entail. I wasn’t good at multi-tasking or maintaining a balance, and I was tired all the time. I often pretended to be cheery, and I don’t know if I ended up honoring any of my commitments very well, but “Love is keeping the promise anyway.” That’s how much I loved you.
Now at the end of the year, I’m starting to take care of myself again and letting people take care of me. I’m getting to do the things that make me happy and it feels good.
This segues nicely into the next topic…
Accepting things from others
In general I think we take it for granted when things are good. So here’s my belated giving of thanks:
- Those who noticed that I always want you to be happy, despite myself.
- Those who made time to listen to me work through problems or vent.
- Those who encourage my hobbies with kind words of support.
- Those who realize that caring takes effort.
- Those who know how hard it is for me to ask for help and volunteered your time and expertise.
- Those who honored their promises to me.
- Those who took the time to teach me things.
- Those who noticed when I wasn’t being myself and tried to cheer me up or give me advice.
- Those who laughed with me over stupid things or great things.
- Those who brought me to see snow, cooked me dinner, dragged me to go work out, to try new restaurants, who kept me company when I wanted to do nothing, or random flights of fancy, helped me clean, accompanied me to events, who bought me flowers, a tree, drinks, meals, a jar lifter, books, pie, etc. not because I need more things in my life, but because it showed me you cared.
Thank you for reading this. I’m always surprised, honored, and a little embarrassed when people tell me they read my blog. I love the process of collecting my thoughts and organizing them to make sense of the world around me. I love that you take the time to hear me think.
I appreciate you and how you help me. Sometimes I take things for granted like everyone else, but I’d like not to.
Change my narrative
This year I have been letting it all hang out. I was open with my feelings, motivations and desires and not holding back as much as I usually do.
I thought I was doing a good job on this promise until the last several weeks. It’s almost maddening when the people you feel closest to and have spent the most time with, have these extremely negative meta-perceptions of who you are that are so different from who you actually are. Then the friends who you just meet or only see once or twice a year but keep in contact with through social media really understand what drives you. So I’m going to say this:
- I keep all my promises.
- I’m the most optimistic pessimist you’ll ever meet.
- I am actually good at a lot of things, but not an expert because of a lack of attention span. Squirrel?
- I’m a ride or die chick.
- People sometimes think I am boastful, but it’s really more that I’m passionate about a variety of things and they make me excited. In my cohort, I’m really quite middle of the road.
- Very few things make me furious, but of the things that tick me off the most it’s being misunderstood.
- If I love you, I love you as you are and would never ask you to change. (I might rant about it or tell you what bothers me, but change is not something I would ask someone to do for me, it’s a decision you make for yourself).
- I’m fully aware that as life events occur, it changes us. Change is the one constant there is in this world, and we need to change together or we drift apart. I am accepting of change and not afraid of it. Are you?
- I have worked unbelievably hard to get to where I am. It is not just some set of fortunate events that has happened to me. I appreciate this every day.
I thought I was disappointed in others for always assuming negative things of me, but I realized that wasn’t the real root of my disappointment. I can’t change how people feel or think about me, nor will I be apologetic for who I am. I can only be true to myself and what I really am disappointed with is that despite my best efforts, I was not able to communicate effectively with some people who were the dearest to me.
- I reorganized the kitchen at the beginning of this year.
- I cleaned the guest room last week.
- Patricia did me a solid and came over to empty out my closet like a mini Marie Kondo. She helped me sort and take to charity 9 garbage bags of clothing.
- I have taken out 8 boxes of stuff to Goodwill this year.
- I have eBay-ed around 100 items this year.
- I gave away things I’ve been hoarding for years to others that I thought could make better use of them than I could.
While I could definitely simplify more, I feel good about this promise. Before vacation ends I plan to clear out three more bins in the garage and lug my old tv stand out to the curb with a big fat “For Free” sign.
Seek Out Inspiration
- Had this great conversation with The Oatmeal’s Mathew Inman at SDCC
- Listened to Sir Richard Branson speak about his adventures
- Went snowboarding in Tahoe
- London during the holidays
- Hiked mountains with epic views
- Went to Houston for Grace Hopper
- Pop Up Magazine Part II
The most inspiration I’ve found this year however is through connecting with people and having some inspirational conversations. I love the people that inspire me with their seemingly infinite energy to care about people and cheer them on. I love sharing ideas and working through problems or optimizing situations together. Thank you my friends for being as talented, sweet and helpful as you are. Much like Redbull (which I detest drinking, but has a great slogan) you give me wings.
In the end what I realized is that it’s hard, even with making somewhat ambiguous promises to be true to the original intent and keep them. Promises and resolutions are much like project plans (PM geeking out here) they can be a loose outline for the things you have in mind for doing, but they can’t dictate everything you want to do in a year. You must always to leave room to roll with the punches.
I’ve done a fairly good job with the promises I made myself in 2016 despite not fully realizing what they encompassed, and for 2017 I’ll can only hope to do better.
“Love is keeping the promise anyway.”
Thanks for reading.