What did you take for granted this year? How will you go about treating it better in the coming year?
This is going to sound unusual and even a little hot-headed, but I feel like there aren't a whole lot of things or people that I overlooked or took for granted in the past twelve months. In actuality, it was the latter half of 2011 that really taught me how to really look at what was right in front of me, close my eyes, and soak it in exactly for what it was. From that, I developed the mantra "Know what you have, when and while you have it."
I suppose the question I find myself asking is, what if it's not just about who or what we take for granted?
That's what I struggled with the most this year; how to make the most of a season of life and how to make the most out of spending time with someone that I care about.
In this day and age, most people no longer go by carpe diem. Heaven forbid, the common catch phrase is "you only live once" (and the ridiculous abbreviation that goes with it) or some other expression that causes me to shake my head.
Some go out and party every weekend, end up in bed with a different person every time, or both. And they can't or don't remember how they got there.
Some make incredibly long lists of places that they want to travel or things they want to do.
Some spout out all the different ways they want to become a better person or live their lives differently in the new year.
And when I hear those sentiments or wishes I have to wonder, is appreciation really the goal? Or, is does that person want to be able to say "I did A, B, and C in an X amount of time"?
I can't speak for every one else, but I've learned that trying to squeeze all the juice out of something doesn't always work, figuratively speaking. Life is meant to be cherished, but not in a way where you're literally exhausting/hurting yourself by trying to do so.
Instead, I've come up with the following:
1. Don't rush. Various generations have this mentality that their teens, twenties, perhaps even their thirties are their "glory days" and that they have to have it all right then and there. I know that it's not the end if something doesn't happen right when I want it to, but that it will happen when it's supposed to. And if I truly want to enjoy something, I have to take my time with it.
2. That being said, there is danger in terms of over-thinking specifics. Personally, I do it a lot, and it has never served me well. There were relationships that I held back from because I was afraid of what they would think of me if I opened up to them about certain aspects of my life and what I've been through. And while there are appropriate and not so appropriate times to have a deep conversation, the constant tip-toeing around it isn't worth the stress.
3. Take care of yourself. Don't be afraid of "missing out" as I used to be. You're not missing out on anything if you're frequently thinking about how tired or in pain you are in the middle of it. Know your limits. I've run into this wall so many times and have come to the same conclusion: I'm not invincible, and I'm sure as heck not perfect.
If nothing else, the one thing to not taking anything or anyone for granted is gratitude. I try to be grateful in all circumstances and recognize the small bits of goodness, specifically by writing it down in my journal each night before I go to bed. It doesn't always erase a bad day or make the dark clouds disappear; rather, it reminds me the blessings are always there, even when I can't see them.