Be happy. That’s it. That’s my goal for 2017. I’m not going to set any other huge goals or other expectations of myself, because I’ve realised this last year that I am my own biggest obstacle to being happy.
In 2016 a lot happened, but I also harshly judged myself and kept constantly giving myself new goals and new milestones without ever stopping to enjoy the ones I was hitting on the way. I treated the year like an endless marathon with no goal, just continuously running in circles, always trying to get to the next lap. That’s not a very fulfilling way to live.
I’d not talked about it too much, but it has caused my old self worth issues to creep in over the last few months. External validation and vague unreachable goals started to (falsely) feel like the only things that were going to make me feel better. So I ignored everything I had done so far to beat myself up for not having done more, without even thinking about what it was I specifically wanted to even achieve.
The person I am now barely existed at the start of 2016, I’ve achieved a lot this year and really changed for the better in a lot of ways, but I only realise that when I look at photos and really think about how my life has changed. I’ve been far too focused on what’s coming next to appreciate where I am, even just in terms of personal growth.
If I actually stop to think about who I was at the start of 2016, where I am right now is exactly where I wanted to be a year later. Transition has gone well, I’ve been on HRT for almost 11 months without any big problems or interruptions, I’m still here in my new home rather than being forced to return to my hometown (thankfully even with the oncoming eviction!) and I successfully started a full time job, being still employed there today.
I even launched my own little Patreon, which I’ve wanted to do for a while (thank you to everyone who pledged!) which funds this fun new website. When I write it all down I know I should be happy and I should be proud of myself for what I did in 2016, so it really underlines the fact that I have to change what my outlook is around personal goals and achievements this year. I can’t cultivate an unquenchable thirst and let that be the reason I limit my own happiness, especially when all that pressure is just internal.
I do have specific things that I want to achieve this year, but I’m reminding myself that I should work towards them because the act of doing so is fulfilling, not simply because the end result is a measure of progress, or a useful stepping stone. If I keep living that way I’ll never be happy because nothing will ever be enough. When you live your life searching for an intangible “more” then it’s easy to miss when you’ve already reached “enough”.
This year I want to grow this website and continue to improve my writing. But I’m keeping that goal loose, there’s no specific measure of progress. I’m not going to track anything as a failure if I don’t hit some arbitrary number, I’m simply going to keep working as I find it fulfilling, enjoyable and personally rewarding. Meanwhile I have a couple of long term projects building which will be going on in the background this year, I’m excited about them but I need to remind myself I’m pursuing them because they’re gratifying to grow and develop with care, they’re not something to rush just to complete and tick a box.
In terms of specifics, I want to write more things that help people, as well as potentially dip back into writing to entertain about comics and other fun pop culture. For years I wrote about comics almost exclusively, occasionally drifting into commenting on video games or movies. I hit a level of success where I saw myself get a few cover quotes on notable releases, but I then eased off to focus first on my Masters degree, and afterwards on transition and personal blogging.
Last year I mainly wrote about personal stuff or trans related topics. At the start of the year I wrote one of the most popular things I’ve ever written, which resulted in me being blown away by how many people messaged me to say it really helped them. Since then I’ve had a bunch of messages asking for advice and it’s made me realise writing things that help people, either because it’s practical advice or just something that helps people feel less alone, is what I find most important. I remember that in the worst times of my life, reading personal accounts from other people who had been through similar situations meant a lot to me, if I can help people in the way that those people helped me, then that’s exactly what I want to do.
Meanwhile, I just really love comics. A lot. I would love to write about them and other bits of pop culture again, as a side-project, just because I enjoy it. Being on 3 panels at Nine Worlds, one of which I organised, was really enjoyable and made me realise how much I miss discussing pop culture to both entertain and inform. But this time I can openly do so from a queer perspective, unlike earlier years where I always danced around that part of myself. Now I can just entirely be myself and bring that into all of my writing.
So those are the two things I’m intending to focus on this year. But rather than set any concrete goals I’m going to just take it easy and see where things take me. The overall goal is to be happy, to try enjoy what I’ve got and remind myself I’ve already done enough to be proud of, I don’t have to keep pushing myself harder and harder just to try feel like I’m worthwhile.
Anyway, whether we’ve known each other years, days or have yet to chat, I hope you have a happy 2017 too!