2017 was a year of personal growth and awesomeness for me. This week, I sat down - as many of us do nearing the end of the year - to reflect. While I’ve had some unexpected curve balls that made me doubt myself, I looked back at everything I’ve written, the places I’ve traveled, the relationships I’ve grown, and - most importantly - the work I’ve done personally. I couldn’t help but look myself in the mirror, in all seriousness, and say, “I’m a badass.”
It’s true. I did a lot of important things in 2017. Though I still have a lot to figure out, I can say - without hesitation - that the work I did in this last year was personally transformational. As a result, I have reached levels of self-awareness, confidence, vulnerability, clarity, strength, and consciousness that I’m both humbled and amazed by. The changes I’ve seen over the last year are magnificent, but perhaps the best part is that I know there is still more work to be done...and I can’t wait.
Looking back, what sparked a lot of this transformation were subtle moments, interactions, and comments from others. Ironically, most were not comments of judgement or challenge, but rather these really beautiful moments where people recognized the light in me that I did not yet see. Where others identified an area of strength or opportunity I had not yet begun to explore. Let me give you some examples.
I got serious about wellness. After I moved to Austin in 2015, I was talking with an old mentee of mine. She was asking me how I did everything and always had it all together. I didn’t know if I should laugh, be flattered, or be completely terrified that I’d been putting off the facade that I had it “all together.” From her perspective, I was working out, killing it at work, maintaining a social life, etc., and always seemed to maintain my cool. What she couldn’t see, was my brain spinning out of control and the supply of sticky-notes and journals it was taking me to keep it “all together.” Here’s the thing, if you want to have the good stuff in life, you really can’t do it all...at least not all the time..at least not all at once. You have to slowly master different areas and then add more things back in.
What I’ve found, in looking at others, is that many people start with one area, become really good at that area, and then neglect the others (check out this post on the different areas of wellness for a better understanding). In my observation, a common place to start is with career because it makes sense chronologically. I get it and I did the same thing. The problem is, my career took up so much time and caused me so much stress that it was eating away at my ability to be well in other areas. Because of this, my focus became professional and social, and everything else was on the back burner. While many people make the unconscious choice to take this path, it is not the path I wanted for myself.
I shifted my focus when I moved to Austin. My job gave me the capacity to get serious about the other areas of wellness I’d been neglecting like financial, physical & nutritional, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional. While my goal is to find the best balance in all areas of wellness (and to share how to find this balance with others), I had to get comfortable with the reality that you absolutely can’t do it all at once (a tough realization for someone who sets very high standards for herself). I also believe that the most trying of the bunch - intellectual, spiritual, and emotional - are those that others tend to avoid, but are the most important. I firmly believe that finding strength in these areas gives you greater capacity to soar in others.
I became someone you turn to. I remember a moment somewhere in my late 20s, I’m not sure of the event, but several different circles of friends happened to be in one place. After the event, my friend Kristin (who I consider one of my wisest and most level-headed confidants) said to me, “Amanda, I don’t know if you realize, but I think you’d be surprised to know how many people at that event would say you are their closest friend.” I didn’t realize; and I was surprised. Shocked really, because - at that time - I truly don’t think I deserved that type of recognition because I was hardly being the quality of friend I am capable of being (you can read more about that part of my journey here).
That comment has stuck with me, however, because I knew if others considered me a close friend when I was struggling personally, then I could be a really great friend if I got my shit together. I’ve seen that change happen most significantly in the last year. As a friend, I’ve become more present, less judgmental, more available, and more giving. In some of these areas, I could say the shift occurred quite by accident, or as a result of other growth. Either way, I feel all of my relationships are stronger. I feel I have a greater capacity to be present and hold space for others and that this shift has shown through in the quality of all of my relationships.
I got vulnerable. I remember precisely where I was when I made the decision to work on vulnerability. I was sitting in my car on an exit ramp with a guy I’d been dating. Wherever the conversation had taken us, I clearly remember he said this, “I feel like sometimes, you’re being very...guarded.” That couldn’t have been a truer statement. I was guarded and by no ill-intention or even conscious effort...I just was. The very next day, I sat down and meditated on his comment and made the decision to get serious with exploring, understanding, and practicing vulnerability. As I’ve come to understand what true vulnerability means, I’ve learned that it’s an act of bravery and courage...and that it’s something most people struggle deeply with. This has been one of the most insightful, yet complicated, parts of my self-work. I can’t even begin to articulate the importance of this type of work and how having the courage to be vulnerable has changed the way I think, act, and feel about myslef and others (if you want to learn more, watch this TEDx Talk by my girl, Brené Brown).
I cut out booze. There was a week time-span, somewhere in late 2016 where - quite literally - all of the gurus I admired showed up in my life talking about how they’d given up alcohol. At the time, I’d been thinking about it, but was worried about taking the leap because of the social stigma around alcoholism and sobriety...I wasn’t an alcoholic, so I had told myself a lot of stories about what giving up booze would look like. I’ll cut the suspense and tell you this: I gave up booze for all of 2017 and it is the single most important thing I have ever done. Ever (you can read all about it in these posts). Cutting out alcohol is what gave me the mental and physical capacity to do all of the other work I’ve discussed.
Looking back, the thing that makes me feel like such a badass is a bit difficult to describe. Yes, it’s the fact that I’ve grown so much, that - in and of itself - is exciting. But, it’s also the knowledge that I’ve embarked on a journey that some people will never even dare to acknowledge, let alone set out on. Why? Because it takes a certain willingness to push aside the veil we’ve learned to see the world through and seek to live a life of purpose. It’s scary and time-consuming and challenging to work on ourselves. So, yes, I feel proud...and accomplished, and like a total badass for even embarking on this journey. I can’t wait to see where it will take me.