Around the Amygdala in 365 Days

2018 was my year.

Everyone says 2018 was trash, but to me it was wonderful. I took 2017 off because I was tired, just so tired. But 2018 was going to be my year – I would waste less time, do more things. I had been stuck in a rut, but 2018 was the year I would finally summon the energy to turn the wheel.

A lot of my triumphs were silent things, thoughts and feelings that were not good Facebook posts or Instagram photos. Things that live only in my mind and in my heart, that are so much a part of me now, I have to look back on my journals to remember a time when they weren’t there. But soon, they will also exist in these words.

A lot of my growth this year came from challenging what has always been a part of me. To say “was taught to me” implies a level of conscious decision on the part of my elders that simply wasn’t there. But it was taught to me nonetheless, and I am having to – at age 32 – unlearn many things.

Perhaps it would be more correct to say I need to learn some things for the first time. Things like “basic nutrition”, and “healthy self-esteem”. That I have a right to exist simply by virtue of existing. That I have thoughts and feelings that, although they can sometimes be negative or unhelpful, are valid in and of themselves.

I’ve had a lot of breakthroughs with regard to my family this year. I walk a thin line between knowing that they did the best with what they had, and grieving for the whole and complete person I might have been.

In some ways I’m grateful. Their neglect has meant that I have become a more reflective and self-aware person. I am in-tune with my own emotions and those of the people closest to me. I just wish I could have learned “vegetables are not yucky” along the way as well.

“Could have learned”, not “could have been taught”. I’m still taking responsibility for things that ultimately should have been a parent’s job.

The biggest thing I’ve learned this year is to own who and what I am. My two biggest role-models growing up were big into shame and guilt. One remains ashamed of everything they are to this day, and the other never misses a chance to make you feel like you’re worthless. So being ashamed of myself isn’t second nature to me, it’s more like first.

Overcoming that is a work in progress. But dealing with it is what is allowing me to write this today. Putting myself out there and saying “this is me”.

I think that I am generally a good person (please note: Even saying those words is a massive leap from where I was this time last year).

I like to help people and animals, I apply myself to my responsibilities as best I can. I love fiercely, will defend the underdog and I will pack-bond with anything. I am very anxious by nature. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome even if doctors can’t agree that it is real (it is).

I am learning to eat vegetables so that one day I can teach my children by example, like I wasn’t. I am trying to say ‘yes’ to more things, even if they terrify me (almost all of them). I am trying to find new hobbies but I have discovered a love for plants. I am trying to redefine my clothing style.

I think I am a good person. In some ways I am not good at being a person. In some ways I am like an alien that is trying to learn to be a person from example. That is definitely what it feels like from in here.

To round this thing out, let me list some of the more concrete milestones I’ve hit this year. I’m an alien, remember, I don’t know how to make this sort of thing segue nicely.

– I started learning Swedish

– I went back to university, started and completed a unit on Critical Thinking, and earned (my first ever) High Distinction

– I was more adventurous with regard to food, trying many new things with an open mind (this is huge too)

– I (finally) got my full license

– I grew many new plants in my little garden

– Made some huge life decisions, that I’m happy to talk about in person or DMs but probably won’t blast into the void

– I knitted a big bag of scarves and donated them to a homeless shelter

– I formed several new healthy habits

Looking back on this list, there is still a little voice in my mind trying to bring me down. “That’s all you did? In twelve months? You are a waste of space, a failure!” But the voice is slightly further away than it used to be and I am able to defend myself and my actions more than I could have in 2017. And it is so much more than I accomplished in 2017!

It is easy now that 2018 is over to say that 2018 was the year that I changed. It’s so easy to bookend my journey and say “I am different now”. It is very tempting to think that I’ve done it, it’s done, I can stop now. But change isn’t something you do and then stop. I’ve begun the process and I can no more stop it now then I can stop a tree from growing. It’s too late, baby! I’ve moved myself from the pot to the soil and nothing and no-one can stop me now! Except deforestation, I guess.

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Jess

Externalised memory priestess from the elemental plane of pink. Words about esports at Unikrn, formerly words about other vidjeo gams for games.on.net. I hyperbolise every second of the day. On Twitter here.