I go to this holiday tea every December and see a group of women that I never have the chance to keep up a friendship up with during the year. We catch up in broad, rushed details that cover an entire year. Before the tea is over, each of us write down on a card everything that we wish for ourselves in the coming year. We keep it private, seal it in an envelope and give it to my friend who throws the annual tea. She says that when she takes them home, she does something with them that ensures we will get what we wanted. She doesn’t read them, she just puts some kind of voodoo magic spell on them.
When I got to the tea on Thursday, rushed and running late, I had completely forgotten about the card. When I saw it sitting on my seat, this dark wave of anxiety washed over me. I immediately decided I didn’t want to read it. In fact, I considered throwing it into the nearby fire that was burning. No one would notice. The problem I had with it was that I assumed whatever I had wished for weren’t things that I had in my life right now and reading it would only make me feel bad about myself. I had no recollection of what I wrote, but I assumed it was somewhere along the lines of, “This time next year I want to have written an Emmy-winning show that I am starring in, living in a big house, making millions and waking up next to my perfect husband.”
I walked into that room feeling great about where I’m at with my life and I wasn’t about to let some naïve wish list dump all over it. I kept trying to put it into the trash pile of ribbons and paper from opened gifts, but the hostess kept finding it and returning it to me. I couldn’t get away from this list of reasons I’m a failure at life. She encouraged me to open it, that I might be surprised at what I didn’t realize I had. So I took a swig of my Pinot Grigio and opened the bastard up.
I think its pretty obvious where I was leading you to, but I was crazy surprised at what I read. I had everything that I wished for. I’m telling you, EVERYTHING. I had this idea that 28-year-old Erin was going to be so disappointed in 29-year-old Erin. But I was wrong. I wished to be writing consistently. To have people be reading my writing. To be creative every day. To have healthy relationships with my family. I stated that I was happy even though I didn’t have love in my life, but that if it should present itself in the coming year, I only wish to find someone who supports me, who I am myself with and who inspires me to be better. But that it would only be an addition to an already great life.
We don’t have realistic views of ourselves. We see the worst, we remember all the insults, we only hear the criticism. We’re terrible judges of our own accomplishments. And being single or having a failed relationship is the perfect opportunity for you to decide that nothing is working out for you. The other thing that the card showed me is that we assume it would take a list of unattainable things to make us happy, when really the person deeply imbedded in us just wants the simple things in life. Things that are within reach, that are up to us to have. You don’t measure your happiness in accomplishments, you measure it in happiness.
Homework assignment: Implement this holiday wish list for the future year. They are not resolutions. And be willing to look at it when the time comes. You might be surprised that you’re doing aight, kid. Talk to you in a year. Also, next Wednesday.
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