Happy Chinese New Year! Today marks the end of the Sheep Year and beginning of the Year of the Monkey. A year ago my new year’s resolution was to embrace vulnerability. And what a year it was – by far my most successful new year’s resolution ever.
Here are some highlights from the past year:
- I organized/facilitated a workshop on Nonviolent Communication and empathic conversations for my birthday, among friends. For me, just the act of facilitating a workshop/discussion for 9 people required embracing vulnerability. Heck, even to organize anything more than a hangout with a couple friends requires vulnerability because I normally don’t celebrate myself or trust that a crowd would show up.
On top of it, the subject matter touched on this topic. Apart from one rough spot, the workshop went beautifully and as well as I dreamed! As a result, I reconnected with old friends and really became friends with my new favorite dancer, close friends in fact. I don’t feel that I have a lot of close friends, and when I do they are mostly men. This time it was a woman I was mutually attracted to, so that was rewarding on multiple levels.
- I was able to express my anxiety toward a woman I was dating very casually, which is something I have struggled with enormously in the past. I have tended to keep it inside, wanting to appear strong and confident and independent when in reality I was dying inside of anxiety. Even if it means they will realize I am not that strong and not that confident and that they’ll be less attracted to me, it’s still worth it to express my authentic self. It helps me to move on and, in fact, to become stronger and more independent. Because otherwise, I am just delaying the inevitable.
I get so in my head wanting to be perceived a certain way, being afraid of being perceived a certain way, that I lose track of reality. By laying it all out there, I get feedback from the world, from another person, which grounds me because at that point it usually becomes undeniable. So yes, I was able to let go much more quickly than in the past, which was so liberating and led me on to new dating experiences.
- I sought out books that fit within my theme of embracing vulnerability. One of them is called “Ask For It,” a guide to asking for things for women. It argues that women struggle much more with asking for what they want and need than men do. This book changed my life.
It helped me begin asking women for their phone numbers and going on dates again without having to go to a particular place to look for these women. I ended up going on dates with 3 women over the summer, which for me was a lot considering that I hadn’t met them any particular place. In addition, I became more assertive in asking for things from my coworkers at work. This has made things run much more smoothly.
Then, I finally stopped putting off asking for help in figuring out whether I should start massage therapy school (given my past hand/wrist injuries). Which I am now on my break from, after completing my first 5-month segment! This has been the best decision of my life.
- I asked for financial support to attend a 4-day women’s Nonviolent Communication retreat back in August and ended up receiving over half the price of the event off! That was a $400 discount. I discovered that, at the age of 26, I was considered a “youth” and that the organizer therefore really wanted to support me in going. I ended up being the youngest attendee and having one of the best experiences of my life. It was totally rejuvenating, and I felt deeply connected to more people at once than ever before in my life. I was able to practice vulnerability throughout that retreat.
- My social life began thriving by the end of last summer. Massage therapy school made it easier to find time for friends because I’m normally terrible about asking friends to hang out. So now I could just ask them to come for a massage, which led to more hanging out. It also helped me connect with people in a different way.
All I was missing was a dating life, come September. Well, by the end of September I had a budding friendship with someone I’d eventually end up dating. That was the first time I’d ever really done the “friends first” thing, and she also ended up being the first person I ever explicitly asked, “Can I kiss you?” It turns out this person is an amazing listener, an amazing friend, and an amazing communicator. In spite of us having many incompatibilities, we have now been seeing each other for almost three months thanks to the practice of embracing vulnerability and stellar communication skills. It has been my most intense dating experiences so far, and certainly one of the most rewarding. She fit perfectly into my year’s theme.
So it’s been without a doubt the happiest and most amazing year of my life so far. Unfortunately, the end of Sheep Year has been a bit rough for me due to dealing with the aforementioned incompatibilities and not having as much time for other friends, not to mention some health issues. I think the ending of my theme of vulnerability was perfect timing, actually, because in some ways I think I have already gotten so deep with this person that I’ve begun to run into the limits of embracing vulnerability, with her. When you have some fundamental incompatibilities with someone, being vulnerable often just brings out the painful truth and forces you to deal with it. And frankly, I’m not sure how much I’m ready to deal with right now because neither of us wants to let each other go. “It’s complicated.”
That being said, it definitely won’t be the end of my focus on embracing vulnerability – it’s just that now seems like a good time to turn the page and focus a little more on other things. My 2016 New Year’s Resolution is to focus on self-care, mainly in the physical sense. I need to take care of my body so it’ll be in good shape for life and the career I’ve chosen.
So what’s next? It’s the Year of the Monkey! Monkeys are said to be “curious, creative, intelligent, and even a little mischievous.” I half-jokingly told my lover that my resolution would be to be all of those things… in bed. I’m not sure if that warrants an entire new year’s resolution, but those are definitely attractive goals, for me. 🙂
What’s your Chinese New Year’s Resolution?