I heard about the ‘One Word Movement’ from Kate Takes 5 last year, and loved the idea of setting a one word intention for the year. It’s a simple alternative to the usual list of unoriginal New Year’s resolutions that are trotted out each year – and have usually been abandoned long before the start of February. Instead you pick just one single word that is your focus for the coming year. You use that word to guide you when you need to remind yourself of what’s important in your life. How you achieve that one-word ‘goal’ is up to you, and may vary as the year progresses. I chose my word last January and feel like I did achieve a lot in that area –though nowhere near as much as I would have liked to– over the course of 2017. All without feeling undue pressure to tick items off a specific list.
A few months ago a thought occurred to me. It has lingered in my mind since then and calls out to be listened to more closely in 2018. I was out with my family at an event where there was the unexpected opportunity to do something I’ve never done before. It would put me well outside of my current comfort zone. The children were too young to be able or want to. My other half declared himself disinterested. I was on my own.
Before having children I would simply have gone ahead and done it myself. That was then. This is now, and normally I would drop the idea at this point. I found myself repeating the usual excuses.
“Oh, I won’t do it on my own.”
“The children will get bored of waiting around for me to do this.”
“It would be selfish to go off and do this by myself.”
“It’s not a big deal.”
“I’m not even sure that I really want to do it anyway!”
Then I realised that while this particular thing itself really was completely unimportant, the fact that I am so conditioned to immediately put aside any idea because it might inconvenience others even a little was a problem. One that I wanted to address. For me. And also for my children who were watching and listening. My actions when it comes to prioritising my hopes and dreams may factor into how they measure their own self-worth against the needs and demands of others.
That was enough to make my mind up. I left my family sitting on the sideline for a change, and signed myself up. As I waited to participate I brushed aside the normal fear of doing something that was pushing my boundaries. I ignored the temptation to back out of it and remembered that years ago I did this kind of thing all the time. Just for the sake of trying out an experience that I haven’t had before, whether the idea scared me or not.
All too soon I was at the head of the queue. It was time to face this particular self-designated challenge and conquer it. To prove to myself that I still could. I stood alone, ready to take a leap of faith. And jumped…
I was terrified. I was thrilled. My heart was pounding with the kind of excitement that only comes from physically pushing yourself. Just as I really started to enjoy it, it was already over. I walked back to my waiting family on quivering legs, high on an adrenaline buzz that I hadn’t felt in far too long.
It wasn’t a big deal at all. I was just one of many on that day, the majority of whom thought nothing of it at all. But it was a big deal. It was a reminder of who I once was, and still am deep inside. Parenthood has a way of burying your sense of self beneath all the demands of modern family life. It brings to life new aspects of yourself that are welcome, but it’s easy to lose the person you once were. To forget the little things about yourself that you liked, and that made you who you were. Who you can still be whenever you get the chance.
My one word for 2018 is ‘Dare’. Dare to push the boundaries, big and small. Dare to want a little bit more. Dare to prioritise my needs and wants sometimes. Dare to be me. Dare to be more than me. Dare to be free.