“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ― Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
It’s taken me weeks to write this post. I was hoping that by taking a break from the blog and from my “regular” job, I’d be able to answer some questions I’ve been asking myself for an entire year. 2015 was a big ol’ year of questions for me. I asked myself “why” more than I’ve ever asked myself “why” in my entire life. But even after a break, I don’t have any answers. And I suppose it was naive to think that I’d be able to answer life’s questions in a couple of weeks.
Here’s what I do know: I know that for me, 2016 needs to be the year of being brave. I’m not setting any goals or making any resolutions. What I am going to do is focus on one little word: Brave. (Idea shamelessly stolen from the inspiring Ali Edwards.)
I’m going to be 30 this year. (Dear Lord.) And I need to start doing what is right for me instead of what is expected of me. I need to live in the moment and not focus so intently on the future. I need to do the things I’ve dreamed about. I need to be brave.
Here’s hoping 2016 will be a year of answers for me.
“A failure is not a mistake… the real mistake is to stop trying.”
Lately I’ve had a hard time keeping up with this blog. I love it, but sometimes it can be a real slog. I have a full-time job and a life. I see very little income from this endeavor and it’s easy to give up on it. No one is holding me accountable. It’s just me here. Negative thoughts can get to me from time to time, but I know that it would be a mistake to give up. My goal will always be to share my story of living small in order to help others do the same. It won’t change and I won’t stop trying.
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.”
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the comparison trap. It’s also very easy to tell yourself things like, “the grass isn’t always greener…” but still have feelings of jealousy and diminished worth. Instead try to compare yourself to yourself. Am I happier today than I was yesterday? Am I healthier? Am I making steps toward improvement? What can I change and what can’t I change? Am I blooming?
I work with a student who recently got into a car accident. He wasn’t injured, but his car was totaled. The insurance company was giving him the run-around and since English is not his first language, he was having a bit of trouble understanding what they were telling him. So, being the nosy helpful person that I am, I called the insurance company for him. I had to talk to three people before they told me that the girl who totaled his car was not insured at the time of the accident and therefore would not be covered. After I got off the phone, I explained to him that sometimes (American?) companies will give you the run-around and you might have to go through three people to get a straight answer. This was baffling to him. I explained that you have to be an advocate for yourself.
I am happy to say that my student got a lawyer and is now working out the details of the case, but I’ve still been thinking about the experience. I realized that I haven’t been an advocate for myself. I preach about being an advocate for your money and doing what is best for you financially, but I haven’t been an advocate for myself in all aspects of my life.
I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I’ve been having some health issues for the past couple of years. I’ve seen multiple doctors and to be honest, they’ve brushed me off. On the outside I am healthy. I eat insanely clean. I exercise. I sleep at least 8 hours a night. But I’ve had many doctors tell me that my problems weren’t real problems. This is extremely discouraging and to be honest, it had me feeling like it was my problem. I simply wasn’t trying hard enough. I wasn’t eating clean enough, I wasn’t working out enough. But I’ve come to realize that it’s not just me. I need to be an advocate for my health. If one doctor doesn’t believe me, I need to get a second opinion. I need to ask the right questions and stand up for myself because I know my body better than any outside person.
Just like own bodies, we know what is best for us. We have to be an advocate for ourselves in all aspects of our lives— our health, our financial life and our lifestyle. This might mean calling the cable company and asking for a lower rate. If you aren’t given one, it might mean dropping cable all together. This might mean losing the facade of a big, beautiful home and downsizing to a more affordable place. This might also mean seeking out healthcare providers that sit calmly beside us and truly listen to our issues.
I know this has been a round-about story, but I want to encourage you to be an advocate for yourself. If there is an aspect of your life that isn’t working, I want you to know that you can seek out the help you need and that you do have the courage to do it. You can be an advocate for yourself. I believe in you.