Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Au revoir, 2012.


2012 has been full of changes for me, both big and small. On the small scale, I stopped drinking soda and coffee, though I do indulge in a decaf latte once in a while. Has it made a difference? I would say so. I used to drink coffee in the morning, which made me jittery and unproductive. I’ve since taught my body to get its energy from sleep, exercise, and healthy food. I gave up soda to avoid the sugar and sodium and to protect my teeth. So far so good!

I also tried yoga for the first time this year. I’ve always been intimidated  by it. I had a picture of the type of girl who did yoga. She was skinny, fit, self-confident, flexible, and looked great in spandex. She was not me. But I did it anyway, and I’m so glad I did. It does wonderful things for my mind, body, and soul, and it’s something that I know I’ll practice for the rest of my life.

One of the biggest changes I made was in my career path. I used to work for a large consulting firm. I learned a lot and I grew as a person, but the time came for me to move on. I didn’t feel fulfilled. When I imagined myself in that career ten years later, I didn’t feel joy or satisfaction. I knew I wanted to do something more. I didn’t figure out what I wanted right away —that was the scary part. If I wasn’t going to continue in a path I had spent two years on, what was I going to do? I felt like a failure. I felt lost. I felt horrible for being discontent with my job when so many people were trying to find one, but I knew that wasn’t a reason to continue in that direction. As a starting point, I thought about the things that I enjoyed. I considered going back to grad school for a Master’s in industrial/organizational psychology, but that would have likely put me back in the consulting world where I already knew I wouldn’t be happy.

I finally realized I wanted to teach. To be honest, it wasn’t such a revelation to me. I had been running from that calling for a very long time. I used to tutor college students, and they would often tell me that I would make a great teacher. I still flinch when I remember my response. “Oh, no,” I’d say with a dismissive wave of my hand. “I’m not going to be a teacher. But thanks.” I was going to do research, or maybe open my own practice —anything but spend my days in a classroom for a laughable salary.

Turns out, I will be spending my days in a classroom, and my salary as a teacher after 20 years won’t be anywhere near what my salary would have been in the consulting world after 10. But I will be doing something that matters to me. Something that makes me feel whole. And even at the end of a very bad day, I can say that this world is better because of what I do. As a lifelong people pleaser, I worried about what people would say. They might call me na├»ve; they might say I was selfish. Foolish. Rash. Ungrateful. Thankfully, people were overwhelmingly supportive, and Blair’s support was the only thing that mattered, anyway, which he gave fully and without hesitation.

Perhaps the biggest change of all, even bigger than a career change, was the decision to become a vegetarian. I first started to slowly reduce meat in our diet because of health and financial reasons. Then we got a dog, and then another one (which is another big change for this year). That really changed my perspective in a lot of ways, including the way I viewed the meat that I ate. As I started to educate myself about the meat industry, I realized becoming a vegetarian was the right thing for me, for animals, and for the environment. This is a very personal choice that I elected to make for myself. I don’t judge my friends for eating meat, and for the most part the people in my life don’t judge me for abstaining from it. If anything, the response has been very supportive.

There are many other less tangible changes that I’ve made this year — I’m still my own worst critic, but I’m much kinder to myself these days; I’ve learned to slow down more and give each event in a day its own time and space; I’ve embraced the fact that I’m an introvert, but I’ve gotten a lot better at making new friends; I’ve started to live with more vulnerability, which I now view as a positive thing. (Please read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.) Basically, 2012 has been a good year full of change and growth. I hope 2013 tops it.

Love and (a book) light,

~Dorothy

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