In lieu of resolutions this year, Cate Huston wrote a set of liberations, starting a movement. My friend Jean Hsu also wrote a liberating, personal list, which is where I discovered it, and Ellen K. Pao has a characteristically thoughtful entry.
I like the framing a lot: rather than creating a set of requirements for my new year, which is what a resolution does, I’m freeing myself from a set. So here’s my list of things I’m liberating myself from in 2018:
- Worry that I’m not good enough. In life and work, this has sometimes been crippling for me. Although I will always strive to learn and grow, I’m me. This is the only me I’m ever going to be. Anywhere I work, I was hired for a reason; in life, I have all these amazing people around me for a reason (or at least, I haven’t driven them away yet).
- Societal expectations of what being a man means. I’ve always made a conscious effort to not fit into the traditional stereotype of what a man is (unconsciously, I’m also really bad at it). But there are always voices that ask why you’re not fitting into a template they have in their head, perhaps because they also feel the need to fit into some kind of template that was given to them. In response, I self-filter. In 2018, fuck ’em. Be me. None of us should bow to that shit.
- Other peoples’ ideas of how I should be happy. These first three bullet points are all kind of related, don’t you think? The point is, I know what I want out of life. I know what I like, and how I want to live. Other people may have different ideas, and different motivations for wanting me to feel a certain way. (This includes endless self-help pieces about how I should organize my morning in a particular way, or the 11 things highly effective people do in the 27 seconds after they wake up … etc etc etc.) I get to build the life I want. We all should.
- Living to work. In 2017, I spent too much time working, full stop. I continued to gain weight (bringing the total to an insane 41 pounds since I moved to California six and a half years ago, and 48 pounds over my ideal weight). I’ve also continued to suffer from anxiety, which was the worst it’s ever been over the summer. For my ongoing health, physical and mental, I need to pull back a bit and remember that you work to live. I have a job that I genuinely love and is demanding, which is great, but it can’t be as all-encompassing as it has been. Regular exercise, more time with friends and family, and more time breathing — reading books, spending time out in the air — are all important, not nice-to-haves.
- Being bound to Trumpian rage. I mean, clearly, fuck that guy. And also, fuck the party machine and entire context that enabled him. But impotently posting on Twitter and Facebook isn’t going to help with that (even if it sometimes feels really, really good). And, y’know, it’s not like America only just last year became a weirdly fascist state with nationalist / exceptionalist ideas that marginalize communities, venerate blinkered capitalism and exploit other nations; just putting it out there. There are huge, endemic problems, and I want to try and make a material difference out in the real world, by volunteering and supporting organizations that have been doing this for a while, and do it with a smile. (I will also continue donating heavily to causes I believe in.)
- Political self-censorship. Yeah, I’m done with that. I think some people have been brought up to think talking politics is rude; to me, that’s like saying that people should know their place. I don’t think either thing is true, and I’ve got some really strong ideas about how we can build a more equal, kinder world. There are people out there who are far smarter than me and have stronger ideas, built on their expertise and/or their lived experiences, and they should be amplified.
- Saying sorry for everything. Saying sorry for everything devalues the apologies that really matter.
What’s on your list?