YOU ARE MAGIC.

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash.

There’s something to be said for humility. Humility makes us approachable, coachable, and adaptable. It tends to focus outward more than inward. Humility says, “I am one drop in a large ocean. I am a work in progress.”

But there’s something to be said for recognizing the positive impact you make on the world around you, too.

I battle impostor syndrome, but I’m also motivated to “leave the campsite better than I found it.” I thrive on helping others, spreading kindness, and being a beacon of light (however small). When I don’t feel like my light is very bright, I reflect the light of others. Especially to those who can’t seem to see or feel their own warmth.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash.

Several years ago, I started keeping notes from others as a way to index my positive effect. I kept a physical file called “Folder of Awesome” in which I’d place thank you cards, emails, etc. That evolved to also include keeping a list of wins and milestones, even if they seemed insignificant at the time. I do this to combat the effects of impostor syndrome—a way to validate, with proof, everything I have accomplished in line with my personal goals (see the campsite quote).

But this catalog of awesome also helps me get through rough patches, dark days, and times when I allow someone else to dim my light. (We all have moments when others cause us to question our worth, despite our best efforts.) Another unexpected by-product of this is an easy way to look back on positive highlights for writing bios, presentation introductions, and job interviews. The most meaningful way to convey the impact we make is through sharing our stories.

It’s easy to forget just how much light we put out into the world—how life-changing it can be. That person you wrote a letter of recommendation for—and they got the job! That student you inspired because you spoke in a class once. The words of encouragement that took you seconds to deliver but made a lasting impact. The mentee you took under your wing at work who is now blazing his or her own path. The kindness you showed when someone needed it most even though you had no idea at the time how alone he or she felt. Volunteering. Investing time. Investing resources. Investing yourself. Leaving the campsite better than you found it.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Sometimes, we do these things because we genuinely care. Sometimes, we do them because we feel fortunate and want to extend grace and mirth. And sometimes, we do them because we know what it feels like to be down or lost—and we don’t want others to experience what we have.

Whatever your motivations, you are light. You are love. And while you’re out there, spreading kindness like confetti, make sure you show yourself a little of kindness, too. Take a moment to celebrate YOU and all that you’ve accomplished.

If this feels like bragging, stop right there. It isn’t bragging if you’re keeping a catalog of your own awesomeness for yourself. But you also deserve to toot your horn every once in a while. To look back on the love you’ve shared, the community you’ve fostered. Sometimes, looking back helps propel us forward.

You aren’t an impostor. You are magic. And don’t you forget it.

THE SOUND OF 2015: SURVIVAL

Per tradition, I made a playlist for the past year. You can enjoy or scoff at it via the playlist below (or also on Spotify). Subsequent years can be found here: The Sound of 2014 and The Sound of 2013.

This is probably the most eclectic playlist I’ve ever put together. Hat tip to Spotify for that. It’s also the longest so far of my annual playlists. Narrowing down the list to these 32 tracks was difficult. Music got me through a lot of shit this year: an abusive relationship, anxiety and self-harm, survival (though, at times, it felt like barely as much), endings and beginnings, and a whole lot of slogging through the in between. Perhaps more on all of that later… In the meantime, I’ll let the music tell the story.

Cheers to brighter days in 2016, friends.

HAIKU: HOTEL ANXIETY

 

loic-djim-38013

Photo by Loic Djim on Unsplash

I used to be so
Comfortable in my mind,
Alone in my skin.

Somewhere, a seismic
Shift jostled loose the threads of
My independence.

My heartbeat echoes,
The only company here
In my hotel room.

I crack the window
Because I can’t breathe. Gasping
And grasping for life.

Home is hours away,
But it feels like light years now.
Are they missing me?

I asked for a double,
One bed for me and one for
My anxiety.

We say our goodnights,
And then I switch off the lights.
The empty floods in.

Hang on until morn.
The sun always warms the soul.
Hang on. Just hang on.

HAIKU: KING MIDAS

Lonely King Midas
Packs his belongings in bags
And boxes with care.

Lost his golden touch,
A godly gift expired
Gives way to freedom.

So many years spent
Isolated and stagnant,
Fearing his own hands.

The penance was paid
With a sacrificial lamb–
The ultimate price.

The king had lost much,
Indeed, but he stands at the
Door of hope and dreams.

His hand no longer
Heavy with the weight of gold–
A lonely metal.

At the threshold, she
Waits, a patient smile and an
Outstretched, fearless hand.

As skin touches skin,
There’s a flash of memory,
Spark of chemistry.

Midas remembers love;
He finds himself reflected
In her deep brown eyes.

Hand in hand, they glow
Not from a golden touch but
Because they found home.

HAIKU: STARS

Thick clouds blind my eyes
Eating moonlight and starlight
And my peace of mind.

Opaque harbingers
Heavy with eerie street lamp
Glow and threat of rain.

The wind changes course,
Giving way to glimpses of
Faint and hopeful light.

Quiet, restless heart.
Have patient faith that the sky
Will be clear again.

Just because we can’t
See the stars doesn’t mean they
Aren’t shining on us.