I've given up on resolutions, as I'm sure many of you have.
(The plethora of posts I see about this time every year that talk about how resolutions suck, and no-one ever keeps them anyway, seem to bear out this theory.)
If I could ask for one thing for all my readers and myself, it's the courage to actually know ourselves. One of the most valuable cognitive tools one can ever have is the skill to look hard at one's motivations, actions, and speeches, and see them without blinders, as they are, and what they say about us.
I've come to this place in my life with a lot of self-examination, and it never stops. I don't second-guess myself (okay, yes I do sometimes, and it's annoying), but I do try to look at my actions and compare them with what I say my motivations are, and see if they actually match. One of the very valuable things about journaling is the ability to look back through my posts and see what they say about me. Am I claiming I'm something I'm not? Am I insisting that I'm working towards something, and doing the exact opposite of what I need to do to achieve it? Am I completely disconnected in my view of myself vis-a-vis the way others see me?
It's been a long hard road, this life, and it has been filled with really searching questions, many of which have been precipitated by the way other people behave towards me. Sometimes it's been me that needs to adjust, and sometimes, it's simply been my task to realize that I'm doing nothing wrong, and there's nothing I can do to fix it.
In those cases, it's been my personal task to stop beating my head against the brick wall; the wall never changes, and I'm just whacking my brains about and hurting myself.
(In psychological terms, this is called "ruminating"; I describe it to my friends in the way that Bob has described my actions to me: "Death spiral of deathy deathness - pull up! PULL UP!!!".)
(His description is more colourful, I think. and so, so accurate.)
Knowing who you are, and accepting the issues that cannot change is part of the struggle - love oneself, warts and all. But the other half is just as important - are there things that can change? Do we have the emotional strength to admit that yes, sometimes, what we're doing sucks, and we need to fix it?
Take me - I am, for all intents and purposes, a textbook Sagittarius. Whether you believe in that sort of thing or not (for the record, I'm on the fence), when you read the positive and negative traits of the Archer, my picture should be right next to it. For the positive traits, that's great. I'm adventurous, quick-thinking, fun at parties, and a passionate lover. But the negative? Well, those are always the things one resists admitting, aren't they? Who wants to be seen as careless, superficial, and tactless? But I was. I am - I'm just a lot better these days at keeping it under control.
One of my worst traits is tactlessness - not the kind of straight talking we do when it's needed, or being open about somtehing to stop it going wrong, but the kind of thing where I blurt out stupid stuff that's in my head at exactly the wrong time. Such as the time I made an off-hand comment about an old neighbour's howling dogs, and the neighbour was the person giving the party (they had moved). Or the time I blurted out that someone should really not perm their hair, because I'd heard someone else being catty about it. Dumb stuff - the "open your mouth without thinking" stuff. I am a master at that. It's something I dislike in myself, and probably contributed quite a lot to my extreme unloveableness as a teenager.
(Mind you, sometimes it has its uses; when I was in college, a friend of mine's little sister was getting it on with her boyfriend, and had a pregnancy scare. My poorly-timed "hasn't she ever heard of birth control?!" right in front of her led to a really useful conversation about condoms, and how one uses them; she in fact, had not known. I gave her all my stash - I was overweight and depressed, and certainly wasn't getting laid.)
(Okay, probably TMI. See? SEE?!! But one useful moment does not justify saying whatever is in my head whenever I feel like it.)
I could avoid responsibility for my behaviour, and claim, as I heard a person say once, "well, I'm just honest! I say what I think!" - in other words, trying to change a vice into a virtue. But I know too well the Tennessee Williams quote "All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of honesty", and I cringe inside. I've learned to keep my mouth shut - if sometimes you think I'm being really reserved, it might just be that I'm fighting my inner loudmouth (it's made worse by the pills - one side effect is that they makemetalkreallyfastandREALLYLOUD for about half an hour...if I'm lucky). But taking responsibility for that issue over the years, and as a result, taking responsibility for the hurt I've caused by my careless (and completely unintentional) dumbassery over the years, means that I don't have to apologize as often these days.
...of course, I still fail to see "blindly optimistic" as a negative trait - I prefer to see it as "not letting ugly facts get in the way of my rosy worldview".
Hey, we all have things we need to work on, right?
But having a better picture of the kind of person I am allows me to negotiate life better - I'm a lot less likely to get blindsided by something if I'm honest about my shortcomings. A brilliant side effect of self-examination is that it also gives you a lot of insight into the way other people work. People, and their motivations, fascinate me - I am often entertained by people who talk about themselves as one thing, and act completely contrary to their words. It also allows me to work around their issues when I need something accomplished. Know thyself, know thy neighbour.
It's useful. And helpful for navigating rocky waterways, which crop up frequently in tthe SCA.
(Sometimes, you are lucky enough to be able to help other people see the truth, which is truly wonderful to facilitate - it's part of helping people to reach their goals, and the thing I want most in the world is for eeryone to reach their full potential. More often, though, it's not possible - it's something people have to realize on their own. And unrealized potential is the most common story in the world, as Bob says.)
So, for the new year, how about a little healthy self-reflection? No magnifying your faults, though - frequently, people go too far the other way, and only dwell on their shortcomings, to the point of completely dismissing their marvellous traits (everyone, yes, even you, has a plethora of wonderfulness in themselves, and it's going unappreciated). That kind of thinking is as useless as denial, and it's called - everyone say it with me now - ruminating. No ruminating!! Find balance. Appreciate what's good, and cultivate it. Look at what's not so good, and either make peace with it, or consider ways to alter it so it's not standing in your way.
And give yourself a big hug. You deserve it for getting through this year. I think you're all marvellous, and I want nothing but the best for all of you.