HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🥳 I’m writing this in the early morning of January 3, 2022, and I have yet to go to sleep. My mind has been flooded with all the things that I could do with my time, with my skill set, with my life. Honestly, for the past two years, I have been distracted by my own modes of escaping my reality – reading fiction, watching YouTube, scrolling through TikTok. It was great because I finally had time to slow down, enjoy the people around me, and sleep. Well, I did slow down and breathe in the fresh air in the beginning and my relationships have grown during this on again off again quarantine season. But the emotional, spiritual, and physical rest that I needed – well, let’s just say I didn’t get much. And you see that’s the problem. I feel like I’ve hit a season of burnout all over again. The last time this happened was right after my junior year of high school in which I experienced a lot of firsts: first all-nighter, first two-page paper written in twenty-five minutes, first fever in like 10 years. It was a lot then and I got through my senior year only by the grace of God and the presence of my community.
I write all that to say that I recognize that I never properly recovered from the burnout that proceeded that time. Instead, I’ve taken quick “breaks” in which I still have to do some work because I’ve procrastinated on the work I need to accomplish. This winter break is the first real break I’ve had in a while (minus the two meetings that I had to attend for organizations I’m a part of).
I want to start 2022 right. I want 2022 to be the start of a healthier me. I know that’s a cliché that everyone says at the start of a new year, but I’m not saying this as a New Year’s resolution. I’m saying this as a lifestyle change. I’m saying this to keep myself accountable to the changes that I want to make in my life. Because this year I graduate with my undergraduate degree and there are a lot of things that I’ve dreamed about, projects that I’ve started, and ideas that I’ve been scared to acknowledge because I don’t want to fail. In years past, I would have made twenty or so New Year’s resolutions and given up on them by the end of February. I would have picked my word of the year and written it in a journal that I wouldn’t read for another year. Instead, I’m going to document my word of the year here, with you all as my audience. It’s not for you to hold me accountable or even for you to judge me from the other side of your screen. I just need a public place to document this so that throughout the year, I can come back and identify the progress I’ve made.
So, without further ado, my word of the year is…Grateful.
According to Merriam-Webster, to be grateful is to be appreciative of benefits received or to express gratitude. It’s an adjective which means that it’s a word that adds to or is related to a noun in order to modify or describe that noun. The reason I chose the word grateful for this year is that in the last two and a half to three years, I believe that God has been trying to remind me to live a life of gratitude. The life I live, the actions that I take, the words that exit my mouth, and the thoughts that I have should reflect the life of someone who is grateful. Google explains gratitude, the noun associated with the words ‘grateful’ and ‘gratefulness,’ as the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. If I am to live a grateful life this year and I am truly grateful for my body, my education, and my opportunities to love and show love in this life, then I need to make decisions and take actions that allow me to express my gratitude. If I’m grateful to God for my health and well-being, then I am going to take action to maintain these gifts God has given me. I’m going to find ways to incorporate exercise and healthier eating into my lifestyle. I’m going to build habits that allow for more rest and peaceful sleep at night. If I’m truly grateful for my education both within and outside of the classroom, I am going to apply myself in all that I do that I may not only thank God for these opportunities but that I may also bring glory to God’s name (1 Corin. 10:31-33). Do you see what I mean? Grateful is my word for this year because living a grateful life requires more than just the words “I am grateful.” It requires action. It requires change. It requires faith and discipline. And at the end of this year, I hope that living a grateful life will have prompted growth in all areas of my life and the lives of those around me.
So, I invite you to come with me and follow along on my journey to live a life of gratitude. I have a lot to learn because there is so much that I don’t know about the path ahead, but this year of gratitude will not go to waste no matter what comes my way.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)