This week is stuffed with beginnings. A fresh month is upon us, one that ends in ‘ber’ which are arguably the best months. Wednesday is the first day of my last year of graduate school. And, today I kick off a months-long virtual race across the world with some of my neighborhood running friends.
I am a huge fan of beginnings. They are so special. There is something about newnesses that infects me with hope and confidence. I get overwhelmed with the possibilities, but eventually the “shoulds” and the notion of perfection take over. On day one, I tell myself, I will start over. All bad habits will be kicked and replaced with those that wellness influencers post about daily. Goals that I had been working on for years will suddenly become attainable. This is not just a new start, but this is the start line. This is when it all comes together for me and makes sense. This is the moment when I finally become the person that I think, I know, I can be.
That’s a lot of pressure. And, naturally, my problems don’t magically disappear and I don’t lose 20 pounds or become definitively richer. A thing or two might improve, and sometimes a start can be momentous, but rarely does it deliver me to that perfect life.
Beginnings look different in 2020. The first day of this year held so much hope, maybe more so than other years, but what followed has been continuous heartbreak. The months have bled together, and looking back, it’s hard to distinguish July from April. A new school year looks vastly different from previous years, and there is no indication where the classroom will be next semester or even next year. And the virtual-ness of this race is a reminder of one of the small parts of life that have been ripped from us, again, without an idea of when or if they’ll return.
Even though beginnings have tended to rage with hope, 2020 has dimmed them down to just a small flicker.
But, it’s still there, and it might be better this way.
We need fresh starts to help us recenter and redirect us, specifically annual ones, such as New Year’s birthdays. These are built-in moments to help us reflect about where we’ve come and where we are going. However, we let too many external messages of where we think we should be and what we should be doing clog us down. We put too much expectation into these and then are unexpectedly disappointed when we can’t live up to them.
Now though, with life disjointed, our expectations are limited, and because of that, we get to see our beginnings for exactly what they are: the next step.
The thing is that we don’t need big marks in the calendars to help us be the people we want to be; we get to do that every day. If we aren’t showing up the way we want on August 31, we likely won’t be able to fully transform by September 1. Instead, we take each day as a step to grow a little bit more.
Yes, life is still hard and uncertain right now, but we can use that to build resiliency. We can redefine our limits and expectations in order to locate a new kind of hope, one that is present in the the seventh month of quarantine and another virtual school year.
Here we are, at a new beginning. Rather than demanding it bring me a better life, I just ask that it helps me be more present in the one I’m currently experiencing and that it offers a bit of faith to keep moving through the darkness. I’m thankful for this beginning, because no matter what it will bring, I was brought to it. Something else ended, and here I am, and well to make it this far, that’s the special part.