God grant me the serenity

I remember the night I realized NYE was a total farce (for me at least). I’d attended my umpteenth Mormon NYE dance (yeah, that’s an actual thing, and they’re for teenagers and young single adults and single adults and they’re all as non-productive for each age group), and I hadn’t been kissed at midnight, and I probably hadn’t even been asked to dance the final slow number before midnight, which meant I was standing off to the side, awkwardly, in the dark of a Church gymnasium, watching my friends dance with charismatic young men (as per ushe), and I thought, “Why am I even doing this to myself.” So I never celebrated it again.

When you don’t really party or drink or believe the signaling of a new year is anything other than COMPLETELY ARBITRARY, New Year’s Eve almost immediately becomes a non-thing. Other people go out and celebrate it and feel like it’s significant, while you stay at home, doing what you do every night, knowing that the following morning will be exactly the same as all the mornings you’ve had your entire life, and that the only difference between 2016 and 2015 will be a new iPhone.

I don’t mean to be a fuddy-duddy or bah-humbug about the whole thing. I think most of it is that I’m a realist, and tomorrow morning will be Friday, just like last week and the week before that and the week before that. And I can feel compelled to change myself and improve starting tonight/tomorrow morning, forcing myself to resolve all my faults and set goals that will, without question, become failures before January is even finished, OR I can just decide at some random date that enough is enough and I need to make some life changes.

A friend asked me how I’ve been the other night, and I responded “self-helpy” because my life has become the poster child of self-help awareness. It is entirely coincidental that this has occurred at the tail end of one year and the beginning of another. The way it happened was that I finally found a psychologist who takes my health insurance, and the first week she was able to see me was in mid-December. And therapy is much more motivating than a new year to change oneself, if for no other reason than you and your insurance company are paying A LOT OF MONEY to make life better. To be honest, I wish all this had gone down at a completely different time of year because I hate feeling like a cliche.

There’s been this social trend — a paradigm shift, a current leading us to a certain direction — that kind of drives me crazy, and I’m trying to fight against it as much as I can. It seems that as a society we’re JUST NOW starting to realize we need to love ourselves, to accept ourselves, to not shame ourselves (or other people) for the way we live (eat, look, work, etc.), and that’s all fine and good (no, it’s great, and I realize that), but now it seems to me that it’s starting to go a little too far into the zone of NON-PRODUCTIVITY (read in an announcer’s voice. If you didn’t the first time around, go ahead and re-read that sentence.)

I get it. Self-love is easier than exercising, eating right, and being productive beyond Netflix and Facebook. It’s easier than forcing yourself to become motivated to do the things you don’t like but need to do. It’s easier than pretty much anything proactive. I can look in the mirror every day and say, “I love myself and am okay with the body shape I am, despite having gained all the weight back I worked so diligently to lose a few years ago,” and at some point I’d probably even start to believe it.

But that’s not how it’s supposed to go, I’m pretty sure. I’ve come to realize in the past couple of weeks that there’s a balance between loving the parts of yourself that you cannot change (I have OCD, which is incurable, and I am Asian*, which, even after years of plastic surgery, would still remain a fact, sorry about that, Michael Jackson) and pushing yourself to do the stuff  that will make you love yourself more fully. I CAN change the way I view my OCD, the way I sometimes may allow it to debilitate me, the way I cope with it on a daily basis.

I love myself, I do. I’m cute, I’m funny, I’m intelligent, I’m a good writer (you’re welcome), I have a fantastic sense of humor (self-deprecating though it may be at times), I’m talented, and I’m lovable. But I do not love the parts of me that have become lazy and too accepting of things I should not accept. I will never ever have to love the part of me that overeats and works out too little, resulting in weight gain. I don’t have to — it’s not my prerogative, it doesn’t make me any less loving of myself as a human. In fact, not loving that part of myself is what motivates me to change.

And change is an awesome thing.

So on this eve of a new year, I am still feeling introspective and am challenging myself to be better, do better. COINCIDENTALLY. And I think 2016 might actually be really awesome.

*I’m not actually bothered that I’m Asian. I used to be, but I’ve moved past that. It’s just a good example of something about myself I’ll literally never be able to change.

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2 thoughts on “God grant me the serenity

  1. You know, I often say that love is a verb. If I’m going to love my husband, then I’m going to serve him and help him and encourage him. I’m going to cook him meals and make sure they’re balanced. I’m going to fold his laundry (even if I’ve let it pile up for a while before I do so). I’m going spend time with him and rub his feet and all sorts of loving stuff.

    If I’m going to love myself, then I’d better take care of myself. I think accepting one’s body doesn’t have to mean that you treat it poorly and be okay with that and say, “Well, I accept myself and love myself so I’m going to love this crappy stuff I’ve done to my body as well.” I think it can mean that you accept, for example, the fact that you’re a cute, short, Asian woman and you take care of that cute, short, Asian body the best you can. You feed it the right kind of stuff (at least most of the time), you take it on walks (or runs, or weight-lifting bouts), you make sure it’s well groomed, etc.. Love is a verb, and that applies to loving oneself just as much as it does to loving anyone (or anything) else.

    You’re fantastic, Mary. 🙂 And you really are an excellent writer; I always like reading your stuff.

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