Goals and Resolutions ’14

Barcelona, Spain - La Boqueria

Barcelona, Spain – La Boqueria

2013 was a shotgun year.

Everything happened so quickly. I bounced from country to country and residence to residence without time to process, to reflect, to regroup, to heal. Coming home didn’t stop that trend – I was impatient to begin my “real life,” and searching for jobs and fantasizing about apartments just made me antsy and unsettled. My family and close friends proved an invaluable support system, but I still felt pretty untethered.

The Voyage did a number on me. It revealed my own core values, strengths, and incompetencies, exposed the extreme “truths” of good and evil in the world, and taught me a crash course on trust, loyalty, honesty, and love. As it turns out, I’m not as great a judge of character as I thought – so while I compensate by being overly kind and friendly, others take advantage of that to spread their poison and let me assume responsibility. It’s a bitter pill, but it’s comforting to know that I restrained from casting a stone myself. As a result, I have a better idea of who I am now, since I’m diametrically opposed to the attitudes and behaviors of (who I’ve seen to be) selfish, heartless people. Silver lining! ..though I’m now out $400+ because I thought being nice meant not asking for what you’re due and putting up with abusive, controlling, deceptive bullshit while offering endless forgiveness. Lesson learned.

…Bitter? A bit. But 2013 spawned a lot of growth, and for that, I’ll always think of it fondly. Plus, I got to travel to twelve different countries. Of course I’m putting 2013 down as a win! I have a tendency, as an obsessive-compulsive person, to wallow on the problems I couldn’t fix. But part of my 2014 Success Plan is addressing and resolving that, along with several of the other glaring personal flaws I recognized. Any experience that gives opportunity for growth is ultimately a meaningful one, and it’s indisputable that 2013 was one of the most meaningful years of my life. I only hope to see the effects of this growth by the time I write next year’s resolutions.

Granada, Spain - El Niño Cambia La Pregunta

Granada, Spain – El Niño Cambia La Pregunta

2014’s New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Slow down and simplify. As I mentioned, racing through the world doesn’t leave much time for the flip-side of travel: self-reflection. But for the first time in my life, there’s no finish line. I spent every school year grinding away at a perfect resume, culminating in two jobs and two majors while balancing a busy social life and extracurriculars. During the summers, I would take classes, volunteer, work, visit family in India, go to tennis clinics, and cram in as much of life as I could before my nine-month dance began again. Finally off this eighteen-year merry-go-round, and (for now) retiring from perpetually-temporary gypsy life, I can stand still. It was dizzying at first, but it’s starting to make a lot more sense now.
    As we drove back from a particularly beautiful day in Santa Cruz yesterday, my dad recited the poem “Lost” by David Wagoner. (Did he know that I was planning to write this post?!) If you like this, click the link to read the whole poem.

    “Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known.”

  2. Show greater self-awareness. As I mentioned in the previous point, I tend to do most things very quickly. (I’m very slow in other regards, but unless you’re meeting me for lunch and I’m not hungry, this will rarely affect your life.) Speaking is one of those things.
    Traveling has made me so much more conscious of how language and comprehension impact potential relationships. By default, everyone spoke English with me (except for some places in which I could practice my Spanish, but even those places are transitioning to English). I was incredibly impressed by how fluently they communicated in a second, sometimes third or fourth, language. But for all of my appreciation, I forgot at times that I speak rapid-fire English even amongst native English speakers, and sometimes people don’t have the energy to keep translating. Making an effort to speak slower definitely helped improve communication with non-native speakers, and it made me a lot more appreciative (and jealous) of their well-developed language skills.
    Important note: Self-aware doesn’t mean self-conscious though – while I hope to work on my negative traits and highlight the positives, I’m not going to feel bad for behaving how I want where and when I want, if how I’m acting is appropriate and in line with my values and principles.

    Angkor Wat, Cambodia

    Angkor Wat, Cambodia

  3. Be more in control of my body and mind. Reducing my workload and refocusing on certain key activities is one way of achieving this. But there’s another more physical level as well. This year, I’m making yoga, meditation, biking, and going unplugged a higher priority. I neglected my health and wellbeing last year, but I’m reclaiming them in 2014. In order to stay on track, I made daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals, all of which incorporate exercise, meditation, writing, and nature to different extents. In light of Resolution #1, I determined what was important to me, then I cut out all of the extraneous bullshit and created a plan to keep myself on track. If you’re interested, I downloaded an app called “Top Task List,” in which I organized all of my goals by category (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) and set them to recur accordingly. That way, when I look at my phone, I can remember to play tennis, read the news, dedicate an hour to writing, and drink twelve glasses of water. The fact that I’m even writing this post is a testament to the app, which is also responsible for the water at my hand and my rock-climbing plans tomorrow afternoon.
  4. Manage expectations. Another resolution is to learn beginner French, Hindi, and Arabic, as well as basic coding and advanced photo editing. These aren’t things that can quantified neatly; what qualifies as “basic” for one might be above or below average for another. But I won’t ever start unless I believe it’s possible to accomplish something. By tempering my goals, allowing for days of laziness or circumstances out of my control, I’m more capable of achieving them.
    Managing expectations is also important for strengthening interpersonal relationships. One major benefit of traveling alone for a year is that I am far more independent, and feel less stressed out when people bail on plans or otherwise disappoint me. Not that I’m happy when people flake, of course, but understanding that unfortunately some people are unreliable makes their actions feel less personal. I had previously thought that having high expectations for someone was a form of flattery, but it really just set me up for a series of disappointments. So, I’m not lowering the bar, but rather adding another, lower bar that makes life a little less “all or nothing.”

This isn’t precisely the post I wanted to write. But hey, I’m glad it came together this way. Like most things, out of chaos came clarity. On that note, I feel like 2014 is benefiting from all of the craziness that 2013 stirred up. Let’s see in these monastic resolutions bear some delicious fruit!