Every January, as the new year begins, we are invited to reflect on the last twelve months, and to set intentions for the next twelve. I am someone who gets easily caught up in the day-to-day, so I love having this time carved aside each year to sit down and reevaluate. Due in part to the current political climate, this New Year felt more intense than ever before.
Most of the people I know are hurting deeply right now. It goes without saying that we need to stand up politically, make our voices heard, and advocate harder than ever before. Beyond that though, I truly believe that this is a wake up call to not only be better citizens, but to be better humans. I began to ask myself, how can I be a better friend? A better daughter? A better colleague? A better counselor to my clients? A better example for my siblings and the children I babysit? After all, our happiness, safety, and productivity are closely linked to our relationships, and the way we treat one another.
While trying to imagine what it would look like to be a better version of myself, I got to thinking about who I admire--who my role models are, and why. To be honest, I didn't have any "heroes" in mind. I recognize that I don't know the trenches of anyone's entire story, so I've never truly idolized any particular individual. Instead, I came to realize that there are qualities in every single person I love that make my life richer and inspire me to be better.
My friend Dana
My friend Kiley sees the light in everyone she meets. This girl shows up for others in so many ways. No matter how busy she is, she will make time to show you you are loved. I've known her to go to a funeral for someone she has never met, just because she knew that they touched the world in some way. Kiley compliments strangers on the street and the cashier at the supermarket. She makes room in her heart for anyone who is willing to let her in. I swear every time she talks to me while she's out, she'll say "Do you need anything?". Kiley reminds me to put others first, and to be mindful that everyone is fighting a battle I know nothing about.
I could go on and on about every single person I am lucky enough to have in my life, but I'll spare you in hopes that you'll continue reading.
Last week, as all of these thoughts about becoming "better" swirled around my head, I had a phone call with a client of mine whose family has had a very rough time adjusting to their new life in the United States. At the end of our conversation, my client told me something that I know will stay with me forever: that my presence in he and his family members' lives makes them feel at home here. That was when I found the common denominator in all of my role models' characteristics. The people I look up to make me feel at home. They show up for others, no matter what they're going through themselves. They find the silver linings. They find and spread hope even when everything feels hopeless.
Maya Angelou's infamous quote "people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" rings so true to me on the quest to bettering myself. Forget your job title, your salary, the state of your bikini body, or the number of "swipes" or "likes" you get or don't get, because none of that matters anyway. You already have everything you need to make waves in the lives of those around you.
As we all trudge on into 2017, I invite you to think about those you admire and why. How can they guide you towards becoming "better" this year?