I don’t like changes, even worse are the surprises.
I’m one of those people who order the same dishes at the same restaurant because I do not want to experience the disappointments from trying new dishes.
There have been many missed or gloomy dinners with friends because of my inflexible and non-nutritious diet choices.
However, the year 2021 has been about some changes and surprises, and I am not talking about the pandemic.
Here are my top three made the list!
Failure does not feel the same way
There were several projects in the year 2021. In fact, 22 of them to be exact: project proposals, board position applications, writing submissions or even marketing pitches to past clients for my architecture practice.
I tend to think of failures in the context of outcomes; if it is YES, then it is a success, if not, then the dreaded failures.
With these unforgiving views towards assessing my efforts, there were many unhappy moments in the past while working on the projects.
However November this year, I experienced something else.
I received a call asking me to resubmit for the board position I applied a year ago. Because of my initial application from the previous year, and even getting selected to the interview level, I was encouraged to apply for the same position.
Having gone through the roller coaster of emotions of happiness (interview selection), followed by the anxiety for the preparation, and then the negative NO outcome which promptly took me to binge ice cream land brought many familiar memories.
I did not want to go through those feelings again or at the very least, I did not want to gain weight!
Ultimately, I decided to tackle the project again.
Maybe it had to do with the encouragement from the person who called or just blind faith that I somehow deserved this opportunity since I am putting myself out there again.
After asking many what if questions, I started working on the project. I spent a total of 25 hours on working on it while tending to other projects.
The outcome was big fat NO.
My so-called “best efforts” were not good enough for making the YES selection cuts. Getting selected in the coveted slot of two out of nine candidates did not happen for me.
I was crushed. Crushed like the year 2020!
It felt the same as the year ago: disappointment, anger, irritations, and then why bother moments. They all came back… with one difference: duration.
My “suffering” lasted just one day!
A year ago, my unhappy period lasted a few weeks – constantly thinking, questioning, doubting – without any concrete resolutions which in turn made me difficult to overcome or learn from.
This year, I felt somewhat different about the same failure; I was no longer the angry disappointed Häagen-Dazs guzzling person I once was; instead, I turn into a calm, composed, non-ice cream (OK a little bit) person.
I still felt the disappointment, however, it did not turn me into an angry, frustrated person who was wearing the same stretch pants with different tops (for zoom call meetings) for days end.
You can always start again
I tend to think/act in all or nothing ways.
These unhealthy views show up in many forms with the invariable question, “why bother”.
Not bothering with a short exercise, eating the entire bag of chips or even continuing scrolling the social media feeds are examples of activities that start with uttering the comment, “why bother”.
With these unbalanced views and attitudes, there are many down days. Of course, the worst part about those days is that they continue into the following days, weeks, and more.
It is a vicious cycle; with one bad news, the down day kicks in with unravelling of the neatly organized to-do lists and then feeling much worse at the end of the day.
However, something happened in September of this year to see the way out of this vicious cycle. I should say, something I did that helped me with seeing the situation differently: sleep
It happened on one afternoon in September.
I don’t even remember exactly what caused me to get into one of those irritating moods, but it was my WTP (What is the point? )moment. Normally, my approach (?) to those negative feelings would be mindless scrolling of my phone and ending the day with regrets.
However, that fateful September day, instead of my usual scrolling activity, I opted for sleeping instead.
After waking up from the nap, something felt different; the negative emotions were still there but felt less intense. Not only did I feel better, but I also saw the situation with clear eyes; rather than with my usual anger and frustrations, I was ok with my efforts. (even if I was not ok with the result:-)
My accidental nap in September taught me the lesson; change the scenery when you don’t like the scene.
By going to sleep, I stopped the scene of the negative thinking cycle that was spinning in my head.
Introducing something new (sleep) to my usual old negative thinking cycle was the trick I needed to see the situation more clearly.
The pandemic has not been all bad
This is very different thinking than how I thought about the pandemic a year ago.
Exactly a year ago, I was complaining a lot about the pandemic like the rest of us. When is this going to end? Hate wearing masks, missing coffee meetings with friends etc.
However with the wisdom(?) from the Pandemic Year Two, there are many positives; consistent exercise routines, no commuting time, or less prep time on getting ready for zoom meetings with the half outfit ( different tops with the same stretch pants).
I miss the carefree days of walking into a restaurant without having to think about 6 feet of distance between me and the next person. Even with constant gloomy news about the pandemic, my newfound fleeting optimistic views tell me that we will have those carefree days again in the new year!
I would meet those days again with a new and improved version of me with a toned body and a variety of pants to go with.
Instead of coming up with usual New Years’ resolutions, looking back on this past year has been a worthwhile new routine I get to tick off before the year ends.
As I am facing the year 2022 in two days, the I recognize the changes are possible even for the stubborn person like me.
Time to try new dishes at the new restaurant opened up in my neighbourhood!
What have you changed this year?