From time to time, my sister and I take delight in sharing the "freewill astrology" that is published in Atlanta's Creative Loafing or Seattle's Stranger with one another via the stalkbook or text in order to relish how much it seems to resonate with whatever is going on in our lives. We aren't really firm believers/followers/other appropriate term of star charts and the like, but these particular horoscopes tend to (as they are meant to) get us all good and self-reflectin' as if they were written specifically for us.
Last week's was a little bit of a challenge from the author, as follows:
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): September 16 is the
first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. So begins 10 days of
repentance. Whether or not you're Jewish, Scorpio, you are entering an
astrological phase when taking stock of yourself would be a brilliant
move. That's why I invite you to try the following
self-inventory, borrowed from the Jewish organization Chadeish Yameinu.
1) What would you like to leave behind from the past 12 months? 2) What
has prevented you from living up to your highest standards and being
your very best self? 3) What would you love to bring with you into the
next 12 months? 4) Who served as a teacher for you in the past year? 5)
Were you a teacher for anyone? 6) Is there anyone you need to forgive?
7) How will you go about forgiving?
And, lo and behold, my horoscope was right! Never doubt it!
I am indeed entering a phase in my life (perhaps astrologically as well) when taking stock of myself can only help me as I transition into a whole lot of newness. And these questions kind of rock my socks. So much so, that I am going to actually answer them right here in writing (at least most of them)...
(Note: I tried to actually answer these questions on the 16th, but as I am also in the process of completing a phase of my research by Friday, I spent the 16th recovering from a few days of straight sickness and reading/writing research. I'm actually ahead of schedule at this point, so obviously a little distraction in the form of blogging is necessary.)
1. What would you like to leave behind from the past 12 months?
I would like to leave behind the negative emotions that plagued me this past summer. Sadness, anger and regret. For a few months, I was having trouble stepping outside of a little box I had trapped myself in and I couldn't see beyond my own situation. I tried to sound positive for my friends and family, but the truth was the negative emotions were winning, which was most apparent in how tired I was, how little I smiled, how much I blamed others for my often short temper. I had trouble being happy for my friends. I had trouble talking of much else besides my own pain. I know I am a lucky and blessed person, with many things to be happy for, but the truth is I didn't really appreciate those things in the last year.
I would like to let go of blame. I can't stand blame. Blaming others. Blaming myself. A lot of things that made me unhappy have happened in the last year, and sometimes I have felt like they are all my fault, and sometimes I have felt like they were all someone else's fault. The truth is, things that happen between two people or three people can't possibly be any one person's fault. It doesn't make me feel any better to blame someone else for my problems. And I know I am not solely responsible for the relationships in my life, whether they are lovers, friends or family - so wasting my time feeling guilty won't improve anything. I can only do my best, learn from my mistakes and be honest with others about what I need, what hurts me, what I can give and what I want.
2. What has prevented you from living up to your highest standards and being your very best self?
My struggles with alcohol and my struggle with my depression, along with the negative emotions I described above, have been the biggest hindrances to my self improvement. I have worked on both of these issues for a long time, but I have continued to have the same problem again and again, even if they occur months apart. For me that is unacceptable.
I know there is nothing wrong with enjoying a few drinks with friends, or having a glass of wine at dinner, but I also know that I struggle with drinking too much at times, and almost always when I am upset about something. I should know better than to ever take shots - because after years of college partying my body cannot take the alcohol and I will most likely black out, even with just one - and I should never drink if something is bothering me, because my will power is weaker on those occasions and I easily get absorbed into drinking away the feeling. Having to admit that this is one of my challenges is hard, but what is worse is ignoring it and letting it happen. I know that I am mature and strong enough to deal with the things that happen in my life more responsibly than to resort to drinking, and even if it happens only once in a six month period, its just not okay.
As far as my depression is concerned, I think I have dealt with it well, but at the same time, I know that in the back of my mind I still feel shame and fear at times because of it. Mostly, I recognize these feelings when I meet new people in my life, or even sometimes with older friends who I worry may not understand. I have such amazing friends, but my insecurities still prevail at times. I am afraid that as I connect with new people, perhaps in the future, if I have another serious bout with depression, that I will not be accepted if I am not strong enough. I am afraid that I won't ever find a partner who will accept this about me either. I combat this, sometimes I think, by being a bit too in-your-face about it. Even now, writing this, its a bit much. Its as if I am still trying to convince myself that its okay, that I am not insane, that people will accept me and if they don't, who cares about them. I can't decide how to conquer this fear, but I know letting it control me is preventing me from being the best version of myself that I can be.
Finally, the last hindrance has more to do with my ambitions, and that is my work ethic and my tendency to procrastinate. I've actually been consciously working on this since the semester began, but already I can feel myself getting a little lazier each day. In most people's eyes, I think they see me as a hard worker. What bothers me is that I know I could work harder. Instead of leaving things for the last minute and wasting time watching movies (boy do I love netflix) or on facebook/tumblr etc. I could get things done sooner and climb more or workout more or volunteer or help my friends with something. I know everyone needs down time, but I think I take my skills and abilities for granted and rest too often. I want to change that this semester, and do the things I have to do, the best that I can do them, and get them done first before I choose to rest or relax, and then spend that time doing something that will make truly happy, like climbing or reading or writing, and not mindlessness on facebook. (Blogging is okay because its writing... right?)
3. What would you love to bring with you into the next 12 months?
This one is easy, short and sweet. Positivity, confidence and graciousness.
I want to always be smiling. I want to see the good side of everything and I want to make others smile.
I want to feel good about myself, my skills and my talents. I want to know that I am working on those things that need improvement. I want to know that I deserve friendship and love.
I want to be grateful and I want to show it. I want to always be saying thank you. I want my freinds, family and co-workers to know that I am grateful for them. I want to show my body I am grateful for it by being healthy. I want to work hard to show how grateful I am for the opportunities I have received.
4. Who served as a teacher for you in the past year?
I have truly been blessed to have so many teachers in the past year who have really helped me. Real teachers at my university, my students, my friends, my family, even my enemies... but if I had to pick one who has stood out, I would choose... gosh, always its Jessica, my sister.
She works so hard, in her job, in her art, in her relationships. She isn't perfect, but she is definitely honest about who she is and she loves herself for who she is, which I envy. Just recently I think I have learned so much from her about will power and putting yourself out there. From her relationship I have learned about faith and trust, and also about tolerance and stepping into someone else's shoes. From her previous relationship I've learned about forgiveness and friendship. I've learned about myself, the things I need to change, the things I like, the things that I couldn't see before, all through Jessica. I'm inspired by her to write and to create and to be more positive and confident.
I think if I were asked this question every year, I might always have to choose Jessica.
I sure hope so.
5. Were you a teacher for anyone?
Literally? Yes. Otherwise, shouldn't someone else answer this question?
Sometimes I think I wasn't positive enough to be a teacher. But maybe I helped some one learn something a long the way. I will work harder on this in the coming year...
6. Is there anyone you need to forgive?
7. How will you go about forgiving?
A private matter, but I will.
I promise I'll write more fun and less long-winded reflections in the future! I still need to announce about my work (once I figure out my title and more details), and this weekend I have some exciting stuff happening with friends and modeling.
Actually, it all might be long winded (what can I say? I love the sound of my fingers striking the keyboard), but I'll try to make it not so damn serious!