2012, and (finally) taking my own advice.

I feel good about this past year. It was a great one, full of adventures and fun. I had some goals, I reached some goals, I made some plans, I followed through with those plans. And when I think through the entire year, when I sit back and go over the months and weeks and days in my mind, most all of it brings to mind the word "family," and to me that means the year was a total success.

I learned some lessons this year too, some easy and quick, some that took a bit longer. I think I grew more during 2012 than any other previous year, which is a bold statement, especially for someone who has a tendency to really pick apart themselves and look, look, look at growth and progress and everything in between. I think one of the biggest things I learned was something I thought I already knew. Something that I was even pretty vocal about knowing...but as always, sometimes we are the ones who should take our own advice most of all. And in my case, talking about how "you can't please 'em all," how you can't make everyone like you, those were my oft-repeated words in 2012 that finally (finally!) sunk in.

Growing up I've always been more of a pleaser than not. Mostly a "stand alone in my opinion" kind of girl, but even through my slight out-spokenness and confidence, there are times I would only really want to "stand alone" in my opinion if someone else was standing there with me. Or to the side, at least. And as a teenager my people-pleasing nature wasn't obvious but it existed, and I think it's what led me to make some of the decisions I did and later on in life stretch myself way too thin. "Please everyone, and you'll please no one" should have been something I learned as I navigated the world in my earlier years but alas, it took me awhile, and sometimes making a million plans had me come across more as flaky than anything as I tried to make everyone happy at once.

And then with blogging. Oh, blogging. It's really the curse of blogging, to care too much about what others think. But inherently I think bloggers must care about what people think, because without that I'm not sure if we'd continuously put our lives on display, no matter how curated. We'd keep it locked up, in private journals, because then it would truly be for us, not for anyone else. And when I moved from Livejournal to Blogger years back I immediately felt different here. It was bigger, not as private, and I felt like there were just more people to read my posts. And so that part of me, that little part that felt scared to really put everything out there, reared its head now and again and made me think and rethink the things I shared.

As my blog grew that all changed even more, and if you read through my archives you'll see me occasionally talk about blogging and how uncomfortable I could feel that so many people were reading what I shared. That went away though, and right at the time (I thought) I was really starting to not care about all of that, trying to just be authentic and me and stop putting up walls in my writing, I discovered a small forum about this blog on a larger website.

Oh, what a turning point for me. Embarassingly enough I became intrigued and began reading what a small handful of the forum's users wrote about me. I'd post something and couldn't help myself checking in on that site to see what was said. Honestly, how crazy of me to want to see what negative things were being said about me...I think back now and I am appalled I ever spent so much time looking! At first Hank and I would laugh about it, I'd try to shake off some of the more hurtful things I'd see being said, but eventually after going on that website too much (and later even posting to it numerous times, foolishly thinking being present would help the situation) I started to get upset. I'd let the negative things I read cloud my mood and as hard as it is to admit, it really affected me. I wasn't sure why I would continously check it- it didn't make sense to me why I'd want to do that, but for some reason I felt like it was important to know what was being said. And all of this from a girl who loved to talk about how she really didn't care what people thought.

This entire thing was a lesson in many parts. One, I realized I cared a lot more about what people thought than I'd let on. And two, if I wanted to continue to enjoy blogging I needed to quit caring immediately and get over myself and this weird interest in seeing shitty things written about me. So I did. I stopped going to that website months ago, and haven't been back since. I have no idea what is written about me, if they're still writing about me, and now (after lots of work) I can say I finally don't care.

But it's not just the site. The website was just a large piece of the entire puzzle, and the lesson extends into so many different aspects of my life. In the second part of the year a friend of a friend decided she "hated" me for no reason after meeting me once. Odd, and something I'd never experienced. My typical reaction would have been to try and make this girl like me...go out of my way to show her kindness until she realized I was indeed a nice person, and that her unreasonable hatred was way off (why oh why is that my instinct?). But thanks to the "website" (honestly so silly to keep referring to it as such but I don't want to send over pageviews) my immediate reaction was not to care. And to sincerely not care. It was her loss, all the way, and I didn't need some stranger to validate me. It was a huge turning point in my personal growth and an "a-ha!" moment when I took a step back and realized that I wasn't just telling myself I didn't care, but I actually didn't care. Yes!

Getting to this point has freed me in so, so many ways. I feel so much happier blogging now, more authentic and oddly enough, I feel a lot more comfortable sharing posts like this again. There will always be someone out there hating on something. Sometimes it's me, sometimes it's not. I'm okay with either. And when I think about this past year and all of the love and family and happiness I experienced, I'm so lucky to have had this lesson admidst all of it, because as trivial as it may be in the grand scheme of things, it's allowed me to really focus on all of that goodness. And now that I'm here, I can only imagine how wonderful this next year will be both online and off, now that I'm truly able to just be me without worrying about the rest. I'll be focusing on the positive in 2013, and accepting that not everyone chooses to do the same...and knowing that it's completely okay if they don't.


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