Picking a word of the year is something that’s relatively new to me, but it’s something I’m really becoming a fan of. I think it’s less about the word itself but more about the process of taking the time to really think about what the past year was like, what I’d like to year ahead to look like, and what I need to do to make that vision a reality. I’m someone who finds a lot of comfort in routines, and that’s what this feels like to me – setting myself up for the year ahead. So after doing that, the word I’ve picked for the year ahead is adapt.
I’ve shared before about the health issues I’ve been dealing with since late August… which is such a vague phrase, I know! Basically, I’ve lost some weight, and it makes everything harder for me – especially breathing. So I feel like I can’t get a good breath, and I’m tired a lot. There are a few different reasons this could be happening, and while I’m working on all of them, I’ve also had to deal with just the day-to-day of it all. And what that meant is that pretty quickly, I had to drastically shift how I spend my time. I had to spend more time in the evenings in bed, just letting my body physically rest, and get in more nutrition through my feeding tube. I had to limit my weekend plans so I could use that time to recover from a week of work. I had no say no to things I wanted to say yes to. And I just felt like I had a lot less time – time to work on my blog, time to write the book I have a partially finished draft of.
I’ve mostly dealt with it well, but there were some days where I was not so graceful about these changes. I felt like I was going backwards with my health, and I was upset. Sometimes it feels like I live such a delicate balance each day that it’s like a game of Jenga – one wrong move, one tug at the wrong block, and the whole thing will just fall down. So when something does change, or go wrong, it can weigh on me heavily. It forces me to think about all the other things that this one change is going to impact, and the thoughts can be crushing. It’s just a heavy, heavy mental load.
BUT. Then I remember that I’ve dealt with things like this before. That I’m resilient. And that I’ve done a pretty remarkable job adapting so far – that while things might not look like I imagined them to look, it doesn’t mean that they’re bad. That adapting has gotten me through from August until now.
So I want to keep that energy going through 2023, and accept it more, too. As a disabled person, I’m typically pretty good at adapting – I have to be, in order to survive and thrive in a world that remains incredibly inaccessible and unaccepting! But there’s a difference between being good at adapting because of inaccessibility and adapting because of changes to my own situation. Overall, I’m at peace with the inaccessibility of the world, because I’m used to it – otherwise I’d be mad every single day. But I’m much less at peace with adapting when it’s because something about me, or my health, has changed.
When I had to change my schedule and life last year, I did. But a lot of the time, it just felt like I was just barely surviving – I was focused so much on just getting through the hour, the day, the week. I made the changes that I needed to make to get through. So while I adapted physically – because I had to – I did not really mentally adapt. I was so focused on the short term that I didn’t really think about how to live with these changes long term – not forever, necessarily, but for months or a year… because it was too overwhelming to think about. And that works for a while, but it also left me feeling kind of… stuck, and spinning my wheels. Like I was doing what I needed to do, but never really moving forward.
So for 2023, I want to keep that in mind. I want to take the physical adapting that I’ve done with me, but embrace adapting mentally, too. I want to remember that change is both necessary and inevitable, and that I don’t need to pause my life and just survive while these changes happen. I can still thrive – I just need to be open to adapting.