A Year In Review: My Highlights and Lowlights of 2016

Year-end blog posts kill me. It’s the pressure. I want to say something uniquely inspiring - which is sort of like a musician hoping to write something original – and even though I know this, even though I’m clear that pressure is kryptonite to creativity, I can’t help it.  Which is why I’m posting with barely minutes left in 2016.

I was going to write about my 2017 vision board until I began nodding off rereading the drafts. Then I thought I’d review my 2016 goals, which started to feel like my rotator cuff would rip from patting myself on the back.  Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that for me, 2016 was a mixed bag. Some good stuff. Some bad stuff. I’ll see if writing it out reveals any major takeaways.

HIGHLIGHT: Steph and I built an online course this year called Relationship Skills Boot Camp. To do this, Steph and I sat side-by-side weekly for hours, first talking through what we’d teach, then outlining learning objectives, then filming the classes, then launching the course, then running the course’s live office hours.

For 12 months, Steph and I have been immersed in a course on relationship skills. You know what that did to our relationship? You can’t teach these skills and not incorporate them into your daily life (and at a level we’d never imagined was possible).  I’m telling you: Best. Decision. Ever.

LOWLIGHT: Building, launching and facilitating Relationship Skills Boot Camp was hands down, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. My Ph.D., building a private practice, getting and filming a TV show – all of that was challenging – and it paled in comparison to this experience. I thought I worked hard in my 30’s. I didn’t know what hard work was until 2016. I can literally count the weekends I took off. On two hands. I overworked and I’m lucky to have my health. I’m no spring chicken – I’m in my late 40’s. It was reckless. And I’m doing things differently in 2017.

LOWLIGHT: Sometimes I’m not so smart. I can be painfully human. And because I teach personal development skills, I’m particularly disappointed in myself when I do the very things that I counsel others against. 

I argued a lot this year. I got caught up in being right. In standing my ground. In not being taken advantage of.  My need to protect myself - to not become a tool – it caused me to lose sight of why I made certain professional commitments. And I almost missed an important opportunity. Thankfully, I’ve got a good tribe (I love you Michelina), one member of which asked me, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”  And just like that, I was right back on track.

HIGHLIGHT: I can’t be quiet when being quiet means going against my principles. I just can’t do it. I’ve tried my entire life to build an internal editing process, to control the teenager who resides inside of me and hates authority and arbitrary rules. I cannot mute my inner rebel. It’s the part of me that refuses to sell out even when selling out will benefit me.  This is the same part of me that came close to sabotaging the opportunity above. And still, I’m proud of that part.

LOWLIGHT: I said, “yes” too often this year. In my quest to be emotionally flexible and to capitalize on exciting projects, I overcommitted. I’m lucky that my relationships are, for the most part, mature ones – they’ve been around for years – and I’ve nurtured them enough that my loved ones understood my limited time and non-existent energy. But it’s not the way I want to show up for the people I love. I’ll do better in 2017.

HIGHLIGHT: Six months ago a family member asked me to speak with one of her friends who had just suffered a loss. I said yes, which prompted a series of weekly Skype calls between a young stranger and me. 

I was clear from the beginning: This wasn’t therapy. I was doing a favor – not taking money. Just assisting by finding her a therapist. I said I’d speak with her for four weeks.

By week five, she had a list of therapists in hand, and I’d signed on to continue to mentor her. Forever.

I’m not sure how I made that commitment when A), I’m a commitment phobe – mostly because I prefer to under-promise/ over-deliver as opposed to making empty promises that seem to roll too easily off peoples’ tongues these days - and B), I didn’t have the time. I was already working from the moment I opened my eyes until I closed them at the end of the day. But there was something about this kid.

The kid is special. I don’t know how else to say it. You may have heard me talk about my dog Buddha being special. And my cat Panda. Which is not to say that Luna and Teddy (their furry siblings) aren’t special in their own rights – just differently so. Well, this kid is sort of like Panda and Buddha. She’s got something extra.

At a certain point, our calls became less about me giving and more about me receiving. I feel bad admitting that. I want to come across as a hero, but this kid adds more than she takes away. Saying yes to her was one of the best decisions I made this year.

TAKEAWAYS:  And so, in my final analysis of 2016, I realize I can make a case that anything I did was either a highlight or a lowlight, depending on how I choose to look at the situation. In each of these examples, I brushed up against good and bad. Nothing, it seems, was or is black or white. Nothing’s binary. It’s all shades of gray, which isn’t so easy for this Virgo to wrap her head around.

Ultimately, the question, “What kind of year was 2016?” can be answered only by me. It boils down to the narrative I want to align with since there isn’t any real truth. Predictably, I’m going to say it was a good year.

What kind of year was 2016 for you? Email me: Darcy@AskDrDarcy.com