As a New Year approaches, many of us are looking for a way to live our best life in 2018. I, as per usual, have been reflecting on the past year, and am left asking myself, “What happened in 2017 that will prepare me for yet another 365 days of fleeting minutes, endless workloads, tireless planning, unprecedented curveballs, and all-around fuckery?”
Needless to say, there were things in 2017 that left me a little pessimistic. There were changes at work outside of my control that taunted me, elected officials that made me wary of humanity, and people who I’ve calmly dealt with, despite my initial desire to stab them in the eyeball with a fork.
We all have things in our lives that stress us out to no end and make us pray for a new, better year. But let’s imagine for a second, that this whole year, every single desire you had could’ve been obtained by reaching for the top shelf in your kitchen cabinet. In the way, way back of that shelf, was the promotion you’ve been working towards, your dream man or woman, a new skill that you’ve been wanting to acquire, or that one thing that always made you say, “I want that, but I’ll get to it next year.”
I, myself, have some pretty big ambitions, so even when I get something off of that shelf there’s always something else I want waiting for me up there, and getting to it can be very strenuous at times. So now, let’s imagine you want something up there so badly that panic sets in, and you start reaching for the item in closest proximity to stand on and boost you up.
You look left, wondering why you never bought that step stool at Home Goods, then right, noticing that your kitchen seems particularly bare. You can’t find anything surrounding you that will give you the support you need. Then, finally, you look right at your feet, and feel a hard, dense object that seems like it might do the trick!
You start to think to yourself, “My God. What is that horrifying smell?”
Well, before you go soaking up all that stank that you didn’t notice was there, be mindful. That stench is your trash, and you’ve been letting it pile up.
In that great big, meaningful bin right beside you is the last words you said to your parents; the last thing you ate for lunch; the last text exchange you had with a coworker or friend; the last look you gave to a total stranger; and sitting at the tippy-top is that ex boyfriend/girlfriend who was at the bottom, but you thought you possibly threw them away by mistake, so you reached your freshly washed hand down there to use it one more time, only to realize that it does, in fact, belong in the trash.
You want to know what that horrifying smell is? It’s your life. It’s everything that you’ve used or said up until now. It’s everything you’ve been through, and everything you’ve given your attention to from the past until today. It’s everything you’ve done that has made you the person you are at this very moment. You don’t like that smell? Well today, you and your opposable thumbs are in luck!
Stop letting things you don’t like pile up and take out your trash.
The things in your life that surround you are the biggest reflection of who you are. But YOU are in charge of what surrounds you. If you are constantly surrounded by trash, trash, and more trash, that’s what you will become.
I know people who let the same mistakes happen over and over again. They say things they regret, they date people they don’t like, they treat people worse than they want to be treated. I know that I, myself, have been one of those people who always let trash into my life, and gave it a space in my heart, rent-free. But there are certain things I should of immediately thrown right into the garbage disposal of life.
This year, there were certain things I left behind long ago that made their way back to the surface. I started to sing again, I started paying attention to my health again, I went back to practicing mindfulness and meditation, and I picked up a few books that I never finished. There are certain things in life are made of stronger material, and those things are meant to be recycled. Those things will make their way back into your life even if you throw them into a bin. They won’t go bad or turn sour, and they will be the things that will pick you up when you need a lift.
But then there are the things standing in your way that are making you nauseous. There are things and people you keep using who were never strong enough to be recycled, or things that should have never occupied your space and time for more than a short while. You don’t want your soggy peas and half eaten can of tuna sitting in your kitchen sink for the next 12 months. You don’t want history repeating itself because you didn’t get rid of the mess the first time, and you most certainly don’t want those smelly things to be the closest things to you.
If something in your life doesn’t smell right, leave it outside and maybe somebody else will come pick it up. Maybe somebody can find some kind of treasure in the trash you are leaving behind. But if the things you want the most are out of your reach, look around you and see what’s weighing you down. If you are holding on for dear life to a bag of filth that seems to be getting more and more rotten, then don’t let that baggage sit in your house.
Take out the garbage, dust off the things you can use, and start over. It might be hard. You might have a brief moment where you panic because the things around you aren’t familiar anymore. Because you can’t go back and say what happened to my old, raggy t-shirt I wore in 9th grade? Or, why isn’t my stinky ex calling me to see how I am anymore? But do you smell that awful stench every time you try to get into that cabinet? Do you smell a text you shouldn’t have sent, or a personality of the person you didn’t want to become? Because I’m willing to bet the air is starting to clear. I’m willing to bet things feel a lot more fresh, and you can finally breathe again.