At the start of 2018, I wrote a mantra for myself:
You will receive beyond your heart's wildest dreams. Trust yourself, put aside self-doubt, and take the first step. Don't watch from the sidelines or talk about it forever. Do it. You are a doer, and you will change lives and fulfill all that you've ever prayed for. Ask yourself constantly: What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?
This year was, well, tough. Life has a funny way of throwing things at you, and you have no choice but to put the pieces together and bounce back. For self-proclaimed perfectionists like me, this is a hard concept to wrap your head around. Prepare as much as you want, but you still can't predict what's coming your way at any given moment. The true test is how you move under pressure. So much pressure was applied to me this year. And I came out stronger. Here's what I learned.
The World Is My Oyster@Mayaalenaa
Simply living in New York feels like a dream. I grew up in the hush-hush town of Portland, Oregon. Nothing but positivity surrounded me, and my untainted eyes didn't know much else. You know, other than the average growing pains teenage girls go through. Hitting the pavement in the concrete jungle every single day has exposed me to the real. Although, living here is hard as hell. Nothing is easy. A trip to the grocery store requires tedious planning and strategizing so everything goes smoothly. What day will the store be the least crowded? What time should I order my Uber so that it's not as expensive? How many bags should I limit myself to so I don't fall over and break my ankle since I don't have a car? Daily tasks require this much thought. After a while, the feeling of fatigue overtakes me, and I simply have nothing else to give.
This year, to give myself a break, I traveled. Traveling more opened my eyes to walks of life that changed my perspective. Oftentimes, when we hustle, hustle, hustle all the time, it's easy to feel stale and stagnant. New York has that effect on me, even when I'm doing amazing things here. I took my talents to Cuba, New Orleans, Los Angeles, New Orleans again, Jamaica, Miami, Los Angeles again, Portland, and Washington D.C. They may not be the farthest, most remote places in the world, but letting my hair down, breathing, and allowing myself to celebrate life in those places reminded me that the world is my oyster. I can go anywhere.
My Timing Doesn't Mean It's the Right Timing@Mayaalenaa
For some reason, I have this innate belief that my life has a timeline. I've had dreams I've held onto since I was a little girl, and I believe I should fulfill those dreams right now. But I'm LOL'ing at myself because that's not how the world works. This year, I rushed myself. I tried to rush literally everything: my love life, my finances, my career goals, my fitness journey, my passion projects, and more. I spent so much time overthinking and being angry at myself for not checking those things off. Most of the time, it felt like my life was a to-do list, and I was completely failing at crossing anything off.
In turn, this timeline distracted me from enjoying the present moment. Everyone who knows me knows I get shit done, no questions asked. Yet the unrealistic expectations I hold myself to on this unreachable pedestal is so unhealthy. Things fall into place when they fall into place. I'm doing the very best that I can. I'm going to be patient and trust the process. My timing isn't God's timing, and I need to remember that he is the orchestrator of my life.
It Takes More Energy to Take Things Personally@Mayaalenaa
You know that line, "I'm an artist and I'm sensitive about my shit"? This is 100% me in every aspect of my life. I'm so sensitive, and that's okay. However, I'm learning which emotions I should not give energy to. In the workplace, in situations with men who aren't worth it, with people who've established themselves as "takers" and not "givers" in my life, I should not sacrifice my precious sensitivity because that means I'm giving someone or something else power. I am in control. I have too much riding on me to cloud my headspace with things that do not serve me. This year, I learned three very simple words: Let it go.
I feel lighter. I harbor so much in my heart when I take things personally. Business is business, work doesn't need to trickle into my whole life. People aren't perfect; that doesn't mean I need to carry the weight of their feelings or wrongdoings on my shoulders. I've accepted this characteristic of mine, which displays I'm all the feels, always. However, I will reflect and not consume the energy that does not serve me or add to my life in helpful and critical ways. I'm learning to protect my energy.
I Belong in the Room@Mayaalenaa
That little feeling of uncertainty when we're in important rooms with important peopleвЂ¦ We all feel it. Coming up in the industry as an intern when things were more traditional at magazines, we were taught to never sit at the table; the outside benches were for us. When celebrities or influential people came to the office, we stayed quiet and acted as sponges simply soaking up the moment. I was just happy to be there. I didn't need to make my presence known. I kept my head down and did the work.
Now, as an editor, it's a constant back-and-forth battle in my mind, but I've ultimately landed on yes, I belong in the room. I'm invited into special spaces because I'm special. I'm sitting at the table because I've worked hard to secure a seat at the table, and one day, because of my work, other black women will get to sit next to me. I'm connected to influential people because I'm influential. I remain humble, but I can't forget that I'm deserving. Every room that I enter will be better because I'm there. I need to trust that in those very moments, I'm right where I need to be.
What Matters Is How Healthy I Feel, Not the Scale@Mayaalenaa
My body and I have a thing going on. Working out and eating healthy became a lifestyle for me in 2017. I found myself unbearably stressed at my first job and needing an outlet to release the tension I was holding onto. I found peace in working out and prioritizing thoughtful choices with what I put into my body. Because of these changes, I inevitably lost weight. The influx of compliments poured in when others noticed my weight loss. This year, I've been attached to the scale. All of the traveling, constant deadlines, and work I was in the midst of this year made my weight fluctuate. I didn't make the healthiest eating decisions because I decided to treat myself.
I'm a Libra, and you know the scales constantly keep us searching for balance. Food is too good for me not to enjoy it, and life is sweeter when you indulge. But the immense amount of guilt I've felt this year with food is something I still need to get under control. This excerpt from an article I wrote about food shaming explains it best: "When you're admittedly addicted to being the best in every aspect of your life, it's nearly impossible to silence self-criticism. My thoughts are the hardest thing to control. Even coming to terms with the fact that I continuously come down so hard on myself for certain food choices is something my mind is still grappling with as I type. The way that I think about food has transformed over the last year, translating to an even closer relationship with what I put into my body."
I'm not in love with my body, and I don't have to be. My body is ever-evolving, and I need to understand that change is a constant. I'm going to continue to work out and make healthy choices because it makes me feel good. In 2019, I'm not letting the scale alter my mood anymore. I'm the ultimate judge, and I'm resting in that power.
If You Don't Limit Yourself, No One Else Can@Mayaalenaa
Limitations are man-made. Period. People have wild success because they have a wild belief in their dreams. This year, I learned that negative self-talk isn't hurting anyone but me. As mama Oprah teaches us, I will continue to fulfill my highest purpose and reach the highest, truest expression of myself.
I have no limits.В
Next: how making this one small change in my life has made me happier.В