2018 goals

At the beginning of 2017, my goal was to say yes to new things.

I traveled to Bali alone (my first solo foreign trip), where I had a romantic honeymoon all to myself. I took a trip to Thailand with a group of my childhood friends, where we played with elephants, got matching tattoos, and threw up on the side of the road in Chiang Mai (wait, that last part was just me). I spontaneously tried surfing with two friends I don’t often hang out with. Instead of staying in every night (which I used to be known for in college), I went out with my friends every weekend. I created connections with so many amazing people, grew closer to my family and old friends, and spent lots of time with my group of talented reporter coworkers.

I also went through a lot of heartbreak, being away from my parents and siblings the entire year. I struggled with a complicated relationship with my partner while we were broken up, and then again while we figured out a way to finally live together. I spent many nights crying alone to myself, or sitting outside on my grandma’s patio looking up at the moon. I also had many moments of pure happiness, where I’d cry too because I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have this life (I know I cry a lot, okay).

2017 brought a lot of turbulence, but it was a welcome change from how stagnant I felt in 2016. I spent so much time saying yes to new adventures though, so by November 2017 I was drained. I put too much effort into always being part of everything, too much time going to events just to please other people — and not enough time caring for myself. I gained a considerable amount of weight from going out drinking (then the late night meals after drinking) and always eating unhealthy at restaurants with family and friends. I didn’t make time to Passion Plan, blog, or work on my ebook project. I literally only read one book in its entirety this year.

In December, I decided I needed to spend more time working on myself. I started reading for fun again, I took up sketching again too, and began watercolor painting (after receiving a very thoughtful gift of watercolor paints from my aunt). I went back to yoga classes, tried to get back into weight lifting and home workouts, and went jogging in my neighborhood. I revamped my blog design to make it a pretty space for my writing. I worked on my ebook again for months until I finished a full second draft.

There are so many things I want to do to grow. I feel this sense of urgency flowing through me all day, like I want to be doing the most with the time I have because I know I have so much potential for growth. I’m learning I need to be more careful with my time, and sometimes that means saying no to social events or extended family obligations because I have my own work to do.

It’s overwhelming thinking about all the ways I want to better myself in the future. I bought a film camera so I could play with photography and explore a new medium. I want to learn how to blend watercolor hues and paint beautifully. I want to be an avid reader like my parents. I want to someday be at peace with myself and not suffer from anxiety.

But most of all, I want to develop a healthy relationship with my body and with food. I’ve struggled with an eating disorder for years, and it’s gotten worse this year since I started gaining some weight. Eating is a constant battle for me — whether I’m trying to feed myself to my fill, binge snacking uncontrollably, or pretending I’m not hungry just so I can shed fat.

I’m at a point now where I don’t completely hate my body (or at least I know I shouldn’t). It comes in waves. I know I don’t really need to lose weight or mass, but I want to be able to nourish myself and not have these strong feelings of shame or pleasure associated with food. I want to get to a point where I see food as a way to care for myself, rather than punishing or rewarding myself for how or when I consume it.

All these ways I want to change aren’t going to happen in a day. I doubt I’ll even achieve them in 2018, or 2020. But the best thing I can do for myself is start small.

My only goals in 2018:

  • Care for my body (nourish it with nutritious food, do regular exercise that feels good, strengthen my connection to it with yoga)
  • Create art
  • Be more grateful
  • Heal

This blog post sounds really serious (and I’m not usually so serious in real life or online), but I’m also trying to become more confident — plus I just finished reading Hunger by Roxane Gay and I’ve probably absorbed her blunt, honest writing style for now.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far, I hope you have a wonderful start to your new year! Let’s grow together!

Alone Doesn’t Mean Lonely

I have this friend who’s an amazing, beautiful person and I love her to death. She’s so smart, funny, kind, and she does so much for other people, all the time. But she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Every now and then, she’ll complain to me about how lonely she is and how she wishes she could meet a cute guy to make her happy.

I used to feel the same and would join in with her, whining about how we wanted a Sean O’Pry lookalike to walk into our lives and want us back. But now, being single makes me incredibly happy. And when she tells me about how lonely she is, it breaks my heart. I know how she feels, and it makes me so upset knowing that countless girls feel this way too.

Being alone doesn’t mean you’re any less desirable. It could mean that you haven’t met anyone that meets your standards for a partner. Or maybe you aren’t at a place in your life when you have enough time to give to one specific person. Maybe nobody is asking you out on dates. No matter what your reasons are for being single, none of them mean that you’re any less of a catch or any less desirable.

Being alone can feel horrible, but it can also be a beautiful thing. I used to be terribly afraid of being single for too long because I thought that if nobody wanted to date me, then nobody thought I was special, which meant that I wasn’t special at all. That’s bullshit, and I want everyone to realize that. If that’s your internal monologue too, then tell your inner critic to shut up and leave. And if anyone you know is actually saying that to you, forget about them — you don’t need that negativity in your life.

As I got older, I realized how much happier I was on a day to day basis while I was single, in contrast to how happy I was when I was in a relationship. In some of my relationships, I spent a lot of my time worrying about what my boyfriend thought about me or worrying if I was as pretty as other girls or thinking irrational, jealous thoughts. I’m not saying that relationships are crappy for everyone just because they weren’t always great for me. But I needed the time I had to spend alone in order to grow out of those insecurities.

During my teens, I didn’t allow myself the time to grow on my own without a boyfriend, and I continued that pattern for years. Now, I’m 20, alone, and happy beyond my wildest dreams. During my freshman year of college, I didn’t join a single organization on campus because I spent all my time talking to my long distance boyfriend. Now that I’m single, I’ve joined several organizations I’m passionate about, taken on leadership roles, made dozens of amazing friends, started an advice blog, wrote for my school’s newspaper, got a few editing/writing jobs, got closer to my family members and longtime friends, and so on. I never realized my full potential and what I could do with my time when I wasn’t giving my all to one person!

My life is amazing and fulfilling now that I’ve started to actually live it for myself. I’m so happy with my life that I’m actually tearing up as I write this. I wouldn’t have reached this peak in my life though, unless I took the time to be alone. Sure, there were plenty of nights over the past few months when I cried. I seriously considered trying to win back a guy I used to like, just so I could get that attention I craved, just so I didn’t have to feel so terribly alone.

But sometimes you need to hurt. You need to be alone. You need to push through the discomfort and the loneliness, because once you spend enough time with only yourself, you’ll learn that you’re actually an awesome person. Or if you don’t feel that awesome yet, you’ll go out of your comfort zone and pursue the things that will make you happy.

My mom always tells me that the time you spend alone is the most important time for personal growth, because it forces you to be okay with who you are, apart from anyone else. Take the time to be lonely, even if it hurts. It really does get better, and I feel like my own life is a testament to how happy you can be if you deal with the discomfort of being alone.

So be happy with being alone, and let’s all be alone, together!

And to quote Donald Glover‘s tweet from a few weeks ago, “alone doesn’t mean lonely tho.”

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P.S. Treat yo self dates are awesome ways to pass the time when you’re trying to be happy while being alone! Check out this article for some ideas to get you started!

–Chloe

My Loneliness Ain’t Killin’ Me No More (But a Serial Killer Might?)

One of the problems that plagues me most is loneliness. I have a big family (I have 5 siblings) so when I’m home, I’m constantly surrounded by people who love me. Now that I’m back at school, I no longer have my family to distract me from my loneliness. At the moment, I’m sitting on my bed, alone in my apartment. I try to spend most of my time with friends and just come back to my place when I need to shower or sleep, but I’ll inevitably be alone sometimes. The feeling of loneliness sometimes leaves me with this deep, painful sadness. I used to cry a lot when I was alone, but I’m better about handling it now.

The fact is, loneliness is a part of life. There’s no way you can keep yourself surrounded by people every second of the day — even when you’re in a public, crowded place, you’re left alone with your thoughts. And even when you lie in a bed with someone else, you’re alone in your dreams and subconscious thoughts while you sleep.

People (myself included) often use technology to try to curb the feelings of loneliness. Tonight I found myself cycling rhythmically between social media apps on my phone, without really thinking about it.

Facebook: I’ve already read all these updates, nothing new.
Twitter: RT Aaron Paul’s emoji-filled tweets about Breaking Bad.
Tumblr: Reblog pictures of a forest.
Instagram: Like my friends’ pictures of them at parties (and feel bad about being alone, looking at these pictures while sitting on the toilet).
Snapchat: Selfie — “Sittin’ on a toilet doe lol.”
Lather, rinse, repeat.

I suddenly snapped out of it after realizing how zombielike I’ve become. More and more, I feel isolated even in a room of friends, while they scroll through their newsfeeds while we watch movies together. I can’t say I’m not guilty of doing the same, but I think it’s important that we realize this habit of staying disconnected from the people right in front of us. It’s easier to feel lonely when your closest companion is your smartphone and everyone else you’re checking on online seems to be having the time of their lives.

Instead of keeping myself distracted with my phone tonight, I’ve turned it off and thrown it under my bed. I’m only somewhat worried that I’m actually part of a horror movie and the audience is screaming at me for not having the foresight to leave my phone on in case I need to call someone to save me from a murderer (I just got back from watching Sinister with my friends tonight so I’m still in the paranoid state of mind). I’m going to sit with the loneliness, because the only way to be comfortable with being alone is to be comfortable with only the company of myself. And if you’re at a place in your life where you can’t bear to be alone either, I think you should try it out too–you might just learn that you’re actually a really cool person to be alone with, and that you don’t always need others to make you happy.

–Chloe