New Years Resolutions

I Achieved My New Year's Resolutions, But I'm Still Not Happy

"From an external perspective, you'd expect to be really happy with how my 2018 went. But the thing is, I'm not."

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paris
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A few weeks ago, I looked back at my list of New Year's resolutions for 2018. At first, I was really excited to see that I'd accomplished many of them: I got straight A's in school, applied to colleges early, got a job and began saving up money. But I also had many other goals for this year, ones that have frequented my resolution lists for many years. I wanted to maintain a secure, healthy, balanced lifestyle and finally achieve a positive relationship with food and my body. I hoped to improve my self-image, boost my confidence, and work towards feeling my best every day. Unfortunately, I did not accomplish these goals. But if you were to look at my 2018 just through my external accomplishments, it would seem like I had a great year of success and progress. From an external perspective, you'd expect me to be really happy with how my 2018 went.

But the thing is, I'm not happy. Despite my the many external resolutions I achieved, I don't consider 2018 to have been an incredibly productive and fulfilling year, because it just didn't feel that way. Yes, I had many wonderful moments, but I found myself unable to fully appreciate them. On some days, I'd accomplish something significant and still feel inexplicably terrible about myself. One day recently, I came home from a great, successful college interview, yet I felt so sad and worthless. I spent the rest of the day crying and wallowing when I should've been celebrating my accomplishment.

That day, I thought to myself, what was the point of achieving all of my external goals if I couldn't even appreciate them? How could I fully enjoy my external accomplishments if I couldn't reach my internal goals? I realized that no matter how many great things happened to me, I would never feel truly fulfilled, successful, and happy if I was neglecting my internal well-being. Nothing external would ever bring me the internal fulfillment I desperately needed.

It occurred to me that due to my disconnect with my emotions and mental health, I had let myself fall into a deep state of discontent. I knew that a change needed to be made, and I vowed to find a way to pull myself out of the rut I was in. I began to try everything. I started journaling regularly again, something I didn't even notice I'd stopped doing for most of 2018. I tried to treat myself better, eat healthier foods, exercise more often, and get back on a regular sleep schedule. Most of all, I made every effort to connect with myself. I wanted to reach into my own soul, find what was causing the problem, and straighten it all out. Now, I realize that there is no quick and easy way to find myself, but at least I'm on my way.

Positive change and progress will only come with lots of conscious effort and, of course, with time. I'm at the beginning of a slow process, but I am determined to help myself out of this place. I am confident that this year, I will finally achieve the internal well-being and fulfillment that I need to fully appreciate everything else about life. Instead of writing external goals for my 2019 resolutions, I'm going to focus on internal ones. I know that once I accomplish those, everything else will follow.

2019 will be my best year yet. I'm certain of it.

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The Burning Of Notre Dame Has Actually Strengthened My Catholic Faith

Corinthians 5:17 says, "Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

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Every year, Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week in the Christian faith. As the most sacred time of the year, those who believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins hold these days dear in our hearts. 2019's Palm Sunday, however, is now held in infamy. The very next day, the precious Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris started to burn.

As the world now knows, the famed and historic Notre-Dame de Paris was spontaneously engulfed in flames on April 15, 2019. The cause has not yet been identified precisely but is most likely due to complications during the $6.8 million renovations the cathedral is currently under. Completed back in 1345, the nearly 800-year-old church has withstood the test of time relatively well.

Until now.

The modern world watched as one of the biggest treasures of the past burned away before our eyes, Twitter even erupted in an unprecedented coverage of this world-wide tragedy as many took to social media to pour their condolences and share memories of this French icon. Religion, race and personal beliefs aside, the world collectively grieved and lent support.

While this is truly a loss on a global scale, the blow comes as a particularly harsh one to the Catholic community after a particularly difficult season of Lent. From the Pope addressing allegations of sexual assault, to backlash over the controversial theatrical release of the film "Unplanned", this latest development seemed like a cruel joke in the days leading up to Easter Sunday. I myself felt affected by this fire hundred of thousand miles away in North Carolina. One of our most beloved holy churches was ebbing away in front of us and all God could do was watch.

However, despite all that, we must look forward.

Despite much of the church being reduced to ash, some of the priceless artifacts and objects that were hidden away in the cathedral have been able to survive the ordeal; such as the crown of thorns, numerous pieces of art, the rose windows, the altar cross shown above and the iconic bells of Notre Dame. Once news of this broke out, I was strengthed to my core knowing God was indeed there.

It seems like such an oxymoron to see such a tragedy as a sign of hope, yet the Bible itself is full of those. The 7 plagues that tormented Eygpt, the Great Flood, and even the death of Christ as examples.

As children of Christ, we are told at a very young age to never question his plan. He is all knowing and has a way of making everything fall into place. God sensed that Catholics were in the midst of a troubling time and brought us this opportunity of a new beginning. The burning taking place during Holy Week can also be taken as perfect timing.

The whole premise of this week revolves around the death of Jesus at the hands of Pontius Pilate, yet miraculously returned three days later before joining Our Father in Heaven, the cathedral can very well do the same and return better than before.

It is a devastating loss but already we are seeing evidence of joyous aftermath. As I noted before, people from all walks of life are offering support and condolences to a faith they were scorning just a week prior. Priceless artifacts have miraculously been recovered and plans for rebuilding have already started. This is a sign of a new beginning, that God is backing us through it all.

Do not question His plan, just have faith. The rest will fall into place.

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How I Found My Voice Through Storytelling

"I have always been captivated by the power of good stories because they connect people to one another and enrich our experience of life. For this reason, I write my story every day."

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Storytelling is an art that is at the core of our humanity and it has been a passion of mine from a young age. Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by the narratives of my family. The practicality of my dad's voice rings in my ears when he shares the lessons he learned from my grandfather. I can still visualize the vivid tales conjured up by my grandmother, whose words had a magical essence that made them seem surreal. These distinct moments are like video clips that are ingrained in my memory to this day.

My parents and grandparents always took pride in sharing their stories with me, and I was eager to learn about the traditions of our family history. Growing up in this environment completely influenced the person that I am today. It had finally occurred to me when I was a little bit older that not everyone had the same relationship to their ancestral past that I did. Not everyone had insight of into the life shaping experiences that affected their loved ones. Not everyone knew their story.

I thought that was the worst thing in the world. I tried to imagine a life in which I didn't know my story or where I came from. Without this information, it was difficult for me to identify a purpose. From the perspective of my life, my story is attached to my drive to succeed. These components of my identity are entwined like fibers of the common thread that ties humanity together. I have always been captivated by the power of good stories because they connect people to one another and enrich our experience of life. For this reason, I write my story every day.

To the people who haven't discovered where they want to go in life or how they plan on getting there, start writing your story. Even if you have no where to start, just pick up the pen and start writing about where you envision your future. Create your purpose, manifest your ideas, and you will begin to become your narrative. Above all, be prepared to use your voice because the best way to add meaning to your work is to share it with others.

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