Embracing 2021. ALL of It!

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben

Today’s the penultimate day of 2021 (I’m so chuffed to have a sentence in which to use the word ‘penultimate’, and the word ‘chuffed’ for that matter! #languagegeek).

On December 31st, 2020, I wrote this article on letting go of the old to welcome to new. It describes a ritual in which you let go of the things that you don’t want to bring into the new year. (It’s a good one, if I say so myself, so go ahead and check it out!)

This holiday week, I haven’t yet taken much time to go over the last year. I’ve been locked into my process of trying to allow myself to rest and recharge, whilst having a continuous dialogue with the part of me that thinks this is really rather selfish, unnecessary and weak (oh look, some things to let go of!).

But I know that the way I look back on the previous year, the way I integrate it into my life, will have a huge impact. It will mark the difference between a year that pulled me down and was full of trials and suffering, versus a year that shines with wonderful moments and created the depth that makes those moments possible.

I’m lucky in that I’ve had a lot of amazing people who’ve surrounded me throughout this year. It’s the first year in which I’ve seen a mental health professional from January to December, the first full year my partner and I spent together without any major fall-outs due to our attachment issues, and it’s probably been the first year in which I haven’t been hiding my struggles from my family and friends.

Many of those people have told me, over and over again, that it is okay not to feel okay. They’ve given me words of comfort when I felt sad or worried. They’ve called me when I felt alone and they’ve encouraged me to take care of myself, over and over and over again (I need(ed) to hear that message a lot for it to sink in). They’ve helped me hold and carry the difficult moments. And that is, perhaps, the most beautiful gift anyone can ever give you.

So on these last days of 2021, I want to look back on the year and continue what I’ve learned: I want to hold it, all of it, the joy and the sadness, the powerful and the challenging, in a loving embrace. Because it’s all part of what it means to be here, to be human. It’s all part of what makes you the unique person that you are.

I’m lucky in that I have this blog that goes all the way back to January 2021 (and further), and that gives me a pretty good overview of what mattered to me throughout the year. In this list of 104 blog posts (see, you ARE a writer Jorinde!), I see the many lessons that I’ve learned: From dealing with my eye surgery to learning how to take care of myself. From coping with my son’s diagnosis to Disneyland with 5 kids in the midst of Covid. From great connections with colleagues and students to panic attacks on the way to work.

I see the things I’ve struggled with over and over again, and the moments that have brought me joy. I can trace the build-up of stress and anxiety that lead to the depression I’m in, but I can also see that there were times in which I was able to do many things I’m not able to do now.

Through this story I’ve made of 2021, chapter by chapter, throughout the year, I am able to embrace all of it with tenderness, warmth, and with love. And I am able to be grateful for what I’ve learned, proud for all I have done and been able to not do ( even more important in my case!), and, first and foremost, to be thankful for all those kind and generous people that have walked with me for part of that year.

It’s strange, for want of a better word, to start a new year in the state I am in. There’s none of the usual big plans or high aspirations. What there is, instead, is a growing confidence that I’ll be able to weather the storms that come my way, and, most importantly, that I won’t be alone in doing it. ❤

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