You know your year has been a great one when you end it better than how you started it.
I usually write these end of year blogs with a healthy dose of positivity, unicorn dust and a reiteration that happiness is the key to EVERYTHING. 2018 has given me the gift of realising that positivity isn’t the key to a happy and rich life (or year). On the 1st of January I have these overwhelming and delusional expectations of the world and myself. That completely reinventing myself will somehow bless my rains down in Africa and turn me into this new year new me disgusting ray of sunshine that lasts for about a week.
Improving our lives and our new years hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade but rather how we can better stomach the lemons. We humans are flawed and limited. A new year should not be this race to see how we can all be extraordinary. It’s impossible because there will always be winners or losers in society and some of it is not fair or your fault. A practical new years resolution to yourself is to get to know your limitations and accept them – that, my 2019 rays of bursting positivity is where the real source of empowerment comes from. Once we embrace instead of ignore our fears, faults and uncertainties – once we stop running from and avoiding all of the ugly stuff, we can find the courage, the motivation and the confidence we seek.
A contented and grounded life is what all of us should aim for as we disembark on the 2019 adventure.
As the existential philosopher Albert Camus said: “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
Or put simply: STOP TRYING SO HARD.
I know what you all must be thinking, where has the 2017 Danielle gone? She used to be cool. What about that beach body I’ve been starving myself for or the big house on the lake I’ve been dreaming of? If you suddenly stop obsessing over those things then you’ll never achieve anything right?
But have you ever noticed that sometimes if you care less about something, you do better at it? It’s often when you stop giving a huge pile of tosses that everything seems to fall into place? What’s up with that?
The backwards law is that it’s called ‘backwards’ for a reason: not giving a toss works in reverse. If pursuing the positive is a negative, then pursuing the negative generates the positive. That pain you pursue in the gym results in better all round health an energy. The failures in a business are what lead to a better understanding of what’s necessary to be successful. The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships. Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance. Seriously i could keep going, but you get the point – everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle and the denial of failure is a failure.
In my life and as each year passes by, I have given and obsessed about many things. I have also tried hard to not give a toss about many things. And like the road not taken, it was the tosses not given that made all the difference. These are the moments that define our lives: the switch in careers or the decision to dump that deadbeat boyfriend. To not care so much is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action.
While it may seem simple on the surface, it’s a whole new bag of bobbins. I don’t even know what that sentence means, but I don’t care. A bag of bobbins sounds awesome so let’s just go with it. Most of our struggles or worries throughout our lives comes from caring too much in situations where it isn’t deserving. Our favourite TV show was cancelled, it’s raining today or our coworkers didn’t ask how awesome our holiday was. Meanwhile, our credit cards are maxed out, our dog hates us and there are starving children in Africa, yet we are getting pissed off about the sun and Gossip Girl.
That’s how it works though, we’re limited on this earth. We will die one day – sorry guys I know it’s kind of obvious but I just thought I’d remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know and love will be gone soon and in that short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of caring to do. And if you go around caring about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice, well then you’re screwed. You will feel you’re personally entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is meant to be the way you want it to be. IT’LL EAT YOU ALIVE. You’ll see adversity as an injustice, every challenge as a failure, every inconvenience as a personal slight and every disagreement as betrayal.
There is a subtle art to not caring as much. And though the whole concept may seem ridiculous, what I’m talking about is essentially learning how to focus and prioritise your thoughts effectively. How you pick and choose is simply based on your finely honed personal values. It’s incredibly difficult and it’ll take a lifetime of practice, but what’s a new year without a new perspective right?
So that’s the resolution part out of the way, now for my top five of 2018. I do this every year and I take an exorbitant amount of pride in the memories I’ve made and the life that I’ve lived. In the words of J. R. R. Tolkien: “Little by little, one travels far”.
Speaking of travel in the literal sense, I travelled a lot this year:
- My tiki tour around Europe.
Europe is the continent that stole my heart, the cute little heart thief. Although empty in pocket but rich in memories, we sucked the fat and chewed the marrow leaving no monument unphotographed and no local beer undrunk. I passionately urge anyone to get overseas and explore the world. It’s so much bigger than one can ever imagine and the culture and worldly experiences you notch under your belt is priceless. You can read all about it here.
- Having a boo boo.
Not all top fives need positivity to make them memorable and this one certainly didn’t for a long time. Back in July I snapped my achilles playing netball. Couch ridden, unable to drive a car or essentially do any of the things I loved was quite the challenge. But no challenge ever comes without lessons learnt. I learnt that having support networks when you’re at your lowest is crucial, I learnt that hopping to the toilet and back is good for the thigh muscle and I learnt that taking a break from going a million miles an hour is definitely a good thing. You can read all about my one legged experience here.
- I met someone.
That’s right – it was the Christmas miracle that came six months early. It’s absolutely mind-blowing what happens to your heart when you meet someone and it just clicks. You don’t second guess anything or question flaws or faults. That social anxiety you once had is out the window, down the driveway, out the gate and probably somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. He’s awesome, life is awesome, need I say more?
- Celebrating Dad’s 60th.
My Dad celebrated his 60th birthday this year and it was pretty cool. When you see men of his age not making their 60th birthdays, it makes you appreciate every day with the one you’ve got. And in elaborate Balmer style, we went on a cruise around the Pacific Islands. It was such a cool week out on the water drinking sangria and soaking up that Vitamin D. I don’t mean to brag, but my family are rad, so getting to spend some quality time with them in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is pretty bloody cool. Read all about that trip here.
- Spending quality time with quality friends.
Whether it was a girls weekend away, a wedding, a pregnancy, a hike, a three course meal, a rugby match, watching a movie, or sharing in an overseas experience – having good friends to do all of the above with makes it so much more awesomer. Get yourself good friends, I promise you you won’t regret it. They make the highs seem like you’re floating on cloud nine and the lows completely irrelevant. I firmly believe that friendship is one of the driving forces that make your world go round. And remember, it’s about the quality of your friends not the quantity, so if you have people in your life that aren’t enhancing it for the better – get rid of them, life is not long enough to spend time with people that don’t make time for you.
And just like that, it’s 2019. This year is about being wrong and having that thought process in the back of my mind every day. When we learn something new we don’t go from wrong to right. Rather we go from wrong to slightly less wrong and when we learn something additional, we go from slightly less wrong to slightly less wrong than that. We are always in the process of approaching truth and perfection without actually ever reaching truth or perfection. We shouldn’t seek to find the ultimate right answer for ourselves, but rather, we should seek to chip away at the ways that we’re wrong today so that we can be a little less wrong tomorrow.
And I hope that mantra will continue to be the case for the rest of my life.