It has been quite the year! I was able to lose a lot of weight. I gained a new lease on life. And, I was able to have a great deal of fun at the suggestion of my husband. The Year of Experiences is not something I could have (or would have) done without his support!
I have had a lot of fun, conquered some fears, and unleashed a side of myself I have suppressed for years. I am sad to bid this year farewell, but excited to see what the next year will bring as I continue to say “yes” to life.
Here are a few takeaways from my Year of Experiences:
- Lean into life. Choose to say yes! This has always – always – been a struggle for me. As I have shared in many of my past posts, new and uncharted territories tend to cause me anxiety. Even if 20,000 people successfully completed a task before me, my tendency was still to think of reasons why I should not try. “I will probably fail. I will likely look like an idiot. Someone may laugh at me. It is not wise.” And, the list goes on. This year has forced me to say “YES!” It has helped me have the confidence to say “no” when I truly want to say no, and “yes” when I want to say yes. The more I lean into life and say, “Let’s do it!” the easier it is to say “yes” the next time. Even those experiences that did not turn out to be fun or exhilarating, just the fact that I did them brought me confidence. “I said yes and nothing bad happened to me. I think I will say yes again.”
- Experiences lead to more confidence. As I began to seek out new experiences, I noticed a newfound confidence emerging. It was not fake confidence and it was not arrogant confidence. It was just an ease in my heart. My timid, “Can I?” progressed to “I think I can,” and then to “I know I can.” It created a general, matter of fact, “Of course I can do this. What is stopping me?” confidence.
- There is less fear and more excitement. Unflappable people tend to look to the future for all its possibilities. They see good coming. They are excited to conquer new worlds and for life to unfold. Less confident people see danger coming. They think of the future and anticipate pain and suffering. “I wonder what will go wrong in the future. I wonder what painful situations I will have to endure. I wonder if all the projections on the news are accurate.” Though I admit that I am not yet an unflappable person, I do have a more positive outlook on the future than I did before this year began. There is so much more out there to say “yes” to!
- I have more to offer. The more I try, the more I learn, and the more I can offer the world! Those who stay cooped up in their safe cocoons may not endure much heart ache, but they probably do not experience much joy either. When we emerge from our safe spaces and take a few risks, we learn life lessons we can share with others. It changes our perspectives. We are more likely to see the world in truth than in the ways we have always imagined it from our hiding places.
- I have more to look forward to in the future. As I mentioned before, there is less fear and more hope for the future. Choosing to take more steps towards living leads to more steps and then more steps. Before long, you are no longer satisfied with life happening to you. Conquering new worlds awakens a fire to keep conquering! As I keep challenging myself, I keep thinking of new experiences I want to have in the future!
- I feel more alive! Often it is those activities which scare us the most that also make us feel the most alive. I hated oral presentations in school, but they were still somewhat exhilarating and I adored the giddy relief I felt when they were over! Singing in public, public speaking, holding snakes – they all scare me, but they also light a fire within me. They eradicate boredom and free me from my fear dungeon.
- I have more reasons to laugh! Laughter often accompanies successes and failures. My first ice skating experience was not the light-hearted, Charlie Brown Christmas adventure I had hoped for. I was actually quite terrible at it, but it still brought some laughs! Those adrenaline pumping moments may be scary as can be, but giddy laughter still comes barreling out of me. “AAAAHHHHH!” The more fun you try to have, the more opportunities you have to laugh. When I stayed clenched inside my safe walls, I had fewer scary moments and fewer reasons to laugh!
Shortly after my thirtieth birthday, I told my longest friend that I suddenly had the urge to zip line and jump off of buildings. An expression of euphoria and relief filled her face. She said, “I have been waiting for you to get here for years!” She has always leaned into life and looked for new experiences and I have always envied her confidence. Now, I do not have to watch from the sidelines anymore. I can climb, jump, and fly alongside her. ~smile~
This year was my year to make some positive changes. Are you ready to make some changes too? Are you ready to release the shackles and open yourself up to some scary challenges and life-changing moments? Maybe 2016 is your year? Start with one small step. Make a small goal and conquer it. Choose to overcome one small fear, celebrate, and then move on to the next. Take baby steps towards becoming the person you want to be – the person God created you to be.
Farewell, 2015. You have been quite a year!
A new year is upon us. Make it count!
What do you want to experience in 2016?
(On Friday, we reveal the new theme of the year for PreEngaged – it is going to be exciting!!!)