Each new year, I choose a word that guides my intentions. This process works much better for me than making resolutions. My 2018 word of the year is Flourish, and today’s essay is a short rumination on what that word means to me and how I intend to employ it this year. Then I chat with my old friend Erin Scott, a fierce feminist and advocate for women and girls in science and technology. Erin and I met within the first few days of college, thanks to choir, and ended up working together for the IT department for several years. We spend our time discussing being wild women who are often deemed as “too much.” We also touch on fun topics like toxic masculinity, highly sensitive personalities, and password protection (funnier than it sounds). As I was editing this interview, I realized that I haven’t laughed this hard on the podcast before and I even laughed out loud while editing. Strap in, because we’re going to take you for a fun ride.
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I’m Taking My Cue
from the Flowers
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt like a watered down version of myself. I’ve made decisions with everyone else in mind, in an attempt to be the perfect daughter, friend, citizen, student, wife, employee… I’ve dulled my sparkle, the very essence of who I am, to fit into everyone else’s boxes.
It was a survival strategy for a long time. I had to play a role to make it through hard seasons of my life unscathed. I had to tend to everyone else’s needs, keep them at the forefront of my mind, make sure they’re happy and that I’m making them proud.
Spoiler alert: that’s exhausting.
For the last few years, I’ve struggled to identify and pursue my needs. Somewhere in my upbringing, I learned that my needs are unimportant so it was safer for me not to have any needs at all. No light, no nourishment, no roots, no space. Years of therapy allowed me to soften into the idea that not only is having needs okay, it’s vital that I advocate for them. And I’m determined to be my own biggest, strongest, loudest cheerleader.
A plant flourishes when it’s tended to. It blossoms and blooms and finds the best light. It sinks its roots deep into the soil, finding the nutrients it needs to thrive. I’m taking my cue from the flowers.
With all this newfound understanding, this extreme shift in perspective, all these lessons learned and insight honored, I’m allowing the weight of others’ expectations to melt away. I’m stepping out of those safe boxes others have placed me in. I’m letting the sun drench my whole being. I’m ready to flourish in this life, on my own terms, let the present heal the past, soften into my needs, and unabashedly insist on them. This is my year of blooming, after so many years of dormancy, I’ll nurture the biggest boldest blossom I can muster.
I feel wild and free. I have soil to lay down roots and I have space to stretch towards my sun. There are no fences or boxes to keep me small, to prevent my growth. I’ve shed those expectations. I’m growing in the direction that feels best for me, towards a sunlight that feels made for me.
This year, I’ll refocus my attention to my thriving. When faced with a choice, I’ll ask myself, “Will this help me flourish?” When I’m working through a problem, I’ll ask, “How can I best flourish in this situation?”
But above all else, I’ll ask: How can I be my boldest, brightest self?