A year of resilience and belonging.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” —Maya Angelou
I began the year telling myself that I would not be guided—or constrained—by a word or a mantra, but when I look back at 2017, there are two themes that emerge quite clearly: resilience and belonging.
The two are related, in many ways; in a world where we’re often being told we don’t belong (for whatever reasons they may be), we rely on our resilience to shepherd us through our sense of isolation. Conversely, throughout our challenges, we turn to the places we feel safe, to the places where we feel like we belong, to find resilience and strength to face adversity.
In 2017, I’ve been resilient in the face of unplanned adversity. While this is a marker of every year, it has been more poignant, more pronounced in the most recent year gone by. In order to build my resilience, I’ve changed my habits, my routines; I’ve learned new things and unlearned others. I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve persevered and thrived—I’ve been resilient when it has felt like the world is crumbling, and I’ve done my part to hold it all together.
Among things that have helped with my resilience include re-starting my meditation practice, teaching myself how to run, allowing myself to make mistakes, and engaging in conscious and deep reflection. I’ve also made more time for others by intensifying my volunteer work, deepening existing friendships, being a little more politically active, and keeping up with my practice of writing letters to friends (and more blog posts, too). I’ve re-engaged with mental health practitioners as a preventative measure—knowing my history, prevention is important in this matter—and have read a lot of books, calming my oft-disquiet mind.
Through this process, I have been ever thankful for the people who surround me, who support me. I have been thankful that I belong somewhere, in many places: I belong in a family with my incredible wife and adorable cat, I belong in a city with people who value my input and passion, I belong in a workplace where leadership and colleagues are committed to embracing people for who they are and not who we want them to be, I belong in a heritage and tradition that shapes my values and priorities.
At the same time, 2017 has been a year where I’ve been forced to question what belonging really means: I’ve been forced to grapple with my outsider-ness as well as the privilege of my insider-ness, while also trying to figure out how I can use my influence and privilege to make others feel like they belong, too.
Even when the political world is focused on exclusion, I am lucky to have spaces, groups, and communities that are so focused on inclusion. The least I can do is to help others feel included, to feel seen, too. have intensified my work on diversity, inclusion, and belonging as part of my job, and have tried to do more to include new voices in my non-profit work as well; this is work I will continue to do in 2018.
With just a few hours left in the year, I’m taking more time to be thankful for everyone who has made me feel like I belong, and for everyone that has contributed to my resilience in my difficult times. While 2017 was guided by those two themes, resilience and belonging, the themes of family, friends, and love are some that cross through the years, across a lifetime.
Thank you, whoever you are reading this, for what you bring to my life, even in small, imperceptible ways. I wish you strength and inclusion as you go about your 2018, and here’s to some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style in the year to come.