Trust and Focus. My words for 2015.
I need to trust that things will unfold the way that they are meant to. I need to trust in love. I need to trust in myself, trust that I know more than I realize, and that the answers will come to me when they do. Questioning, seeking, exploring, wondering: these are all good things, as long as they are not accompanied by too much fear, anxiety and the desire for control. I will know when I know.
There are a lot of uncertainties facing me in this next year, especially in regards to finances, jobs, and where I will be in the next six months to a year. I may be moving to MA for a fellowship in August. I may be here in DC for another year. I may have an assistantship, or I may be scrambling to make ends meet. I know that I will be done my dissertation in April 2016, but it isn’t exactly clear how I will make it from here to there. I just have to trust that no matter what I will be okay and that things will work out.
In the meantime, as the future slowly unfurls, the word focus guides me as I juggle different responsibilities with my dissertation. The most important thing I need to do in the next year is to finish. Focusing on what needs to get done will help me on my path towards whatever awaits me next year, and will open up opportunities for me that worrying doesn’t.
I also want to use the word focus to think about being present, something I made a priority through 2014 with my word “breathe.” I want to pay attention to the shifting seasons, the nip of the winter wind on my cheek, the snow that sifts its way across the street, the feel of my house-mates dog snuggled against me, the colors of the clay marbling in my hands, the delicious stir-fry that my girlfriend makes, the return of spring and strawberries. I want to focus on joy, appreciation, and love, even as I leave space for sadness, weariness, and (even) anxiety, for all that they tell me about the life that I am moving through.
This morning I watched the TED talk on Vulnerability by Brene Brown. I know that it has been around for a while, but I hadn’t seen it yet. Last week, Laverne Cox spoke at my alma mater, Bucknell, and I was lucky enough to visit and see her. (See a great write-up by a student in the Bucknellian, here.) She mentioned Brown’s work on shame and guilt, and inspired me to finally check out the video. It was exactly what I needed to hear today.
“This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.” –Brene Brown.