If you looked at my instagram this time last year it looks like I am having a pretty decent time, I was really... but I was also all up in my head about literally everything - I have always been a bit of a worrier.
I wasn't really planning on doing a reflections of my year because I know that nobody cares, they want to share their own highlights of the year and then sit back so that they can compare it to everyone else's critically. Which is why I am not doing a 2019 'highlights' I am just going to share a small journey I went on (amongst many others) because I think there is value in it, I think you can learn something.
The reason I cringe so much when I see photos of myself from last year, isn't because of the bad outfits I strutted or cutting my hair far too short; it's because I am reminded of the mindset that I was stuck in at the time. I was placing the value of me as a person in so many other people and what they thought of me that I got very lost.
It is a common joke amongst my friends that I seem to have an identity crisis every 5 minutes and until now I didn't realise why that was happening, why did I always feel so lost?
All I knew was that at home, I felt like myself, I could be silly and confident, post stupid or vulnerable photos and not care, I was creative and had a routine that I stuck to. I was comfortable. At university I was lost and felt weird and unmotivated, I struggled a lot with mental health and faced things I thought I had previously overcome. It wasn't anyone's fault at university, everyone is lovely. It was that I didn't feel good enough to be there, not talented enough to be doing what everyone else was doing and insecure about the fact that I can't "party" like everyone else does.
My self worth was placed in SO many of the wrong things that now I look back and laugh. This year was definitely a transformation for me, I wasn't looking for it to be but about halfway through the year things got a bit better.
One moment in particular I remember walking around town and saying to my mum "isn't it so silly that I care about what people think so much" that was the first domino to many falling down. Once I realised that one tiny thing, a lot of other things felt silly too...
I thought I was doing GREAT last year with ~ loving myself ~ but ... well the short story is that I wasn't. Another thing that happened was that I looked at a picture of my younger self, I saw a little girl with hope and big dreams and I loved her like a sister, I wanted the world for her, I wanted to take care of her - don't get me started on what my therapist would've said about that shit but it made me realise something.
That was the first time I had truly felt love for myself, I distanced myself so much from that picture that when I looked at baby Jess I just wanted to give her a big hug - she needed it - so then I did a big mental brain fart and worked on connecting myself to the girl in the picture again, I asked my mum what we did that day and I put myself back in that little chubby body... sounds weird I know, but it worked, it really helped me have those feelings towards myself rather than towards a little girl I claimed I didn't know.
It wasn't until December 2019 that I realised just how much I was holding myself back... You know how most people have this thing where they say "I'll be happy when..." and it usually ends in them having more money or a new car or whatever and actually everyone has the ability to be happy now blah blah, right?
Well, for me the sentence always goes like this "I'll be happy when I am successful" What does being successful mean? I don't know. But the next sentence goes like this "I'll be successful when I am healthy" hmm.
For someone who has an incurable illness that's not exactly the best attitude to have it? I have always looked at people I deem successful in different ways and think "wow imagine being able to do that!" My illness forces me to stop and rest a lot of the time, the more I ignore it the worse it gets, so I have to take things easy, I have to pace activities and it frustrates the hell out of me. A healthy Jess would pull all nighters, be banging out content and studying hard, this Jess, the Jess that I really am can sometimes only manage a bath and that's it for the day.
So it's fair to say that I am held back, yet I was still holding myself back... by comparing myself to all these "healthy people" and saying "I can only be successful when..." I was limiting myself to my whole life having an excuse to not try and start doing something.
Something I saw on Instagram helps reinforces this in less words...
So having had the realisation late 2019, I decided that even though I do technically have a disadvantage with my disability, it didn't mean that the determination I am often praised for had to go to waste, learning to rest not quit is going to be huge this year - it is a lot easier said than done - but it's time I started believing in myself.
When I look back those pictures I cringe because I had no confidence in myself, I didn't believe in my abilities and I was so worried about what people think about that I didn't or did do things I disagreed with.
So here is to a year of even more growth... to being confident in not just myself but what I can actually offer people and what I am capable of working on, of saying yes to more opportunities rather than fearing that I won't be healthy enough and to being my true self unapologetically. I am done pretending.
The end... how dramatic.