2018 Reflections

A year of new Mes

In the past 12 months, I’ve tried on a dozen different lives.

This is somewhat ironic because my only goal on January 1, last year was to live a simple, singular, authentic life. What I didn’t realize then was how little I knew about what that life was...  or how little I knew about myself. I had no idea how much of my personality and ego had been tied to my work. 

I emerged at the top of each month a butterfly with a different purpose. Seemingly overnight I became a corporate defect, a successful business owner, a minimalist, a writer, a body positivity advocate, a teacher, a motivational guru, a better mom, a naturalist, charcuterie wizard… 

I am all and none of these things.

On an endless quest to discover new ideas, passions, new facets of my truest self, I latched on to every possibility to fill the void of what-was. The truth is, the process of untangling who I am from who I believed I was comes in fits and spurts... and I’m not done trying on new things yet. It takes infinite time and space to find your authentic self... if that’s even a thing at all.

My favorite quote this year, from Nikita Chopra: “If you’re outgrowing who you’ve been, you’re right on schedule. Keep evolving.”

In reflecting on these “mes” from outside myself, it’s like watching a baby discover its toes, its laughter, its voice, and realizing who its mother is for the first time. Each day a new revelation. Beautiful and painful all at once. Painful because upon discovery, there is an admission of things you cannot change. A permanence of character and self. 


A year of gratitude

To say I’ve been humbled this year would be an understatement.

In my quiet moments, I find my mind wandering to the day I met my husband, or to the day I received the call from Bob, the HR guy who offered me my first job in tech (where I was assuredly their second-choice candidate). How might my life be different today if it weren’t for these people? Or if it weren’t for the life I was born into? The color of my skin, the shape of my body, the birthplace of my parents…

I spent the final quarter of 2018 doing some incredibly difficult work on being. Through therapy, lots of reading, and coursework, I studied not only myself but my anthropological journey through time and space (yes, really). There is no other way to describe how I feel about much of the fortune I’ve seen other than I am one lucky mother fucker.

The hardest part though—  is realizing that my very existence has the ability to make other people feel bad about themselves. My challenge now is to strike a careful balance of doing something about that, and not caring.


A year of loss

This year I shed an identity, financial security (to some degree), and being part of a team. That last one has hurt the most. Ever the introvert, I didn’t expect longing for the company of others. Nor did I expect to grow conflicted by every opportunity to join one. I believe its possible to both love and loathe being a loner and I’m trying to embrace that right now while also exploring ways to lean into my existing teams (family, friendships, creative circles, and teams I advise).

I also lost what I believed were real friendships and am now grappling with the reality that they may have been superficial relationships the whole time. I’ve always placed such emphasis on being well-liked that it didn’t even occur to me that I may be putting in a lot of effort to keep relationships alive — relationships that weren’t serving either party.

I had to let go of plans and expectations I had for my business 2018 as well. At the top of the year, I had planned to open a physical space in the East Bay. I suffered disappointment as the building contract process fell apart for various reasons in the end. I ultimately walked away with a newfound commitment to rely on myself and more gratitude for being afforded the opportunity to reflect on whether opening a physical space was the right thing to do during my first year of entrepreneurship. It probably wasn’t.



A year of gains

Now that all of the negative stuff has been lifted, I’m excited to share what I’ve gained this year! Wow, where to begin...

Independence first and foremost. I have given myself the autonomy to work on what I want as long as I can support myself and my family financially. So, proving to myself that I could make enough money to sustain our life in the Bay Area this year meant a great deal to me. It feels empowering to know I have the talent and ability to create something from nothing, and that others have enough trust in me to hire and refer me.

What’s more— once the goal of being “financially successful” was met, I felt something I didn’t expect at all. That money is not the most important thing.

In fact, the time I’ve gotten back in my life, through no longer commuting, or toiling away on other people’s objectives has created more happiness and fulfillment than the ability to pay our bills and take trips.

Spending more time with my young children was a roller coaster ride, but ultimately and undoubtedly a major life gain. It took several months of trial to determine the right amount of childcare for us— too much time at home and I started feeling the familiar pangs of resentment; too little time and I worried I was slipping back into my old workaholic ways and canceling out all the progress I’d made this year. Both kids are back in their full-time preschool programs but I am much more present and available to them than ever before. Our relationships and their relationships with each other have deepened beyond my expectations– and this alone makes everything else worth it.



A year of being weird

In my business I learned that bringing something unique to the world was more valuable than being the best. In my case, it was clear that my clients were drawn to me and my story more than my skills and achievements. Although this is exactly what I coached many of my clients to embrace for themselves, it wasn’t until this personal reflection that I saw how true this was for my own business. Yes, I am qualified, but my quirk is what makes the difference. I’m holding on to this realization with both hands.

Putting myself ‘out there’ in a marketing sense was uncomfortable. Taking this past month off from self-promotion has been a huge relief to me. It begs a question I get from clients often— will it ever get easier to market myself? Clearly, I don’t know the answer to that. I will, however, be experimenting with marketing tactics in 2019 and trying to answer the question, ‘how much is enough?’ on various platforms. Expect less frequent updates from me while I figure this our for myself.



A year of work

I wrote about evolution and luck, but without putting in hard work neither of those things could have been realized. Creating opportunities for good, enabling talented people, and growing other life-changing businesses is my work— and it’s brought me real joy. I’ve stayed up late, I’ve worked on weekends, and I’ve had to educate myself all over again to make this work a reality for myself. In 2019, I’m going to continue making this my work – though like every other aspect of my life, I’m sure the means to achieve those results will evolve.


A year of love and doing less

These two go together because, for me, one can’t be achieved without the other. Slowing down and simplifying my life has given me the capacity to love more. Over the past year, I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum and I like who I am when I have less “going on” and take greater care with fewer things.

As such, I’ve decided to spend this last day of 2018 at home with my family. We’ll prepare simple meals, beautify our home, curl up together, try to make it to the 9 pm ET count-down, and not let FOMO penetrate our happiness.


With that, Happy New Year my friends. And happy Old Year, too!

Much love,

Rachel








 

Rachel Melby