When my Aunt told me this has been a good year for me, I immediately stopped to tell her she was wrong. This year. Ugh, fuck 2021. And, yes, I’m aware that the world is full of suffering and hardships right now and my woes are pretty first world.

This year, though, My recently diagnosed asthma made me so sick that I had entire days spent in bed. I interviewed for dream jobs that I didn’t get. I’ve also buried my truths to keep the peace at home. I’ve stewed in feelings of hopelessness for long periods, for the first time in my life. I was an angsty teenager, too.

And if all of these challenges weren’t enough for my preternaturally sunny disposition, I’ve started to uncover decades worth of resentment that I’ve held onto and to see my dysfunctional ways of relating to people. These ways kept me safe as a child, but as an adult keep me anxious and fearful. Plus, I have this profound sadness of wishing I had made different choices. and the regret over not finding this awareness sooner.

How do I make peace with all of this and still find my way? A cheery face and burying shadow feelings like hurt and anger, the ways I learned to cope in childhood, won’t help. Poor food choice won’t save me, either. I’m learning to deal with challenges by journaling, therapy, and walking in the woods. Maybe this is what the saying “the way out is through” truly means?

Like the shittiiest of struggles, there’s a light side. Once my asthma got controlled, I only felt more determined to get physically healthy. A lot of my recent life choices boil down to “Will this make me less likely to suffer asthma episodes?” Exercise, self-care, setting boundaries, and being true to myself seems to work. I even began to work out with a personal trainer because this girl isn’t going to be “killing it” on a treadmill any time soon. I’ve lost 81 pounds, shifted to a vegan diet, started walking regularly, and prioritized my self-care.

And, about those dreams jobs that passed me by, their rejections freed up time to work on myself. When I look back at my career, I’ve often lost myself in work. Working weekends and sometimes holidays, not because work demanded this but almost because I needed an escape, all under the guise of taking ownership of projects. A welcome distraction from looking at myself and my life?

Since I left my job in 2019, I’ve done freelance writing. I’m incredibly grateful for every assignment that has come my way. I spend days working on a writing project, and once I’m finished, I’m free. I don’t obsess about what’s next. I did my job. With freelance work, I find random days where I’m free to spend time listening to the tide and feeling the sun’s warmth at St. Mary’s City. This time away replenishes me. While I’m still searching for more permanent work, I’m thankful for all of the flexibility that freelance writing has given me.

So, sure, times are tough. But, today as I walked through the words, I realized that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Yes, I know this sounds trite. I can finally say this, not because I’ve amassed rich bounties or because I need to paint a rosy picture to alleviate the discomfort of adversity. This year’s trials and tribulations have gotten me to take off the mirky lens that has shrouded so much of my life and stopped me from loving myself enough to prioritize my whole health. Be gone sludge that diminishes my inner light.

Only time will tell about how this year will shake out. But, maybe, it hasn’t been so bad after all.

Becky Elliott

After dropping out of a liberal arts college that focused on reading and discussing the “Great Books”, Becky Elliott found her way to a career in IT. For 20+ years, she has held a number of roles in Dev and Ops, and the area in between the two. In working for organizations in which poor security practices can cost lives, she’s an ardent believer in integrating security through the entire design process. Becky holds a number of industry certifications including the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

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