Guest Writer Dr. Natalie Léger
By Dr. Natalie Léger
As 2023 comes to a close and the new year approaches, moments of reflection of the past and hopes for the future arise everywhere we look. Whether it’s seeing your friend’s social media posts about what they want to leave behind in 2023 or even lists on what music you spent most of your time listening to this year, we are faced with evaluating where what we have done and where we want to go next. With that can come the opportunity to appreciate our accomplishments and set new goals. However, what often comes is judgement and worry about not being where one ‘should’ be, set by elusive social and cultural standards. The pressure to become something great in the eyes of others can be a powerful force that dictates how we view ourselves. Unfortunately, this can distract us from learning about our own desires, aspirations, and needs which are at the core of how we measure growth.
Within western culture, patience and acceptance can be viewed as a form of laziness or seen as giving up. This perspective creates an environment where the goal posts of success are always moving and leaves us feeling defeated and disappointed even in the face of great achievements. When we combine this with our natural inclination to engage in social comparison, change and growth can feel as far away as ever. With that in mind, it is important for us to ask the questions: Where did these goals come from? How do I define success? When do I get to appreciate who I am and not just what I do? In asking ourselves these questions we can potentially see that a full 180-degree transformation of who we are is not what is needed. Instead these questions may encourage us to take a pause and adjust our perspective to look inward at the parts of ourselves that truly matter.
There are so many elements that make up our identity, community, and humanity that should be taken into consideration when defining change and success in our lives. The people that care about us, the chances that we take each day that few people see, and the lessons learned no matter how difficult, are all parts of ourselves that we can feel proud of. While getting that new job, title, or home are all worthy of recognition, making decisions that put us in a position to move forward is just as worthy of our praise. So let the closing of this year be a time of giving grace to ourselves, as even staying still when everything used to be falling around us is a sign of great success.
Natalie Léger, PsyD is a Licensed Sport and Counseling Psychologist in Washington, DC. For more information about Dr. Léger: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/natalie-leger-washington-dc/1143905