Alright, 2018. As Nicole Byers would say, “ya done!” I think it’s difficult to say whether this year was “good” because there were some direly terrible, awful moments. And, I feel thankful for several people and communities that worked against all odds and supported one another. Despite the heartbreaking news we encounter every day, I do want to shout out the people that made good happen. Think about the activists, writers, teachers, artists, religious leaders, small business owners, athletes, entertainers, and others who took the time to teach and to listen. Especially people of color, women, queer and trans folx, disabled folx, immigrants, and folx whose native language is not English. To everyone who truly learned from their mistakes, that’s awesome.
I saw so many awesome achievements and fearless actions, including a friend’s recent trip to the border to protest. Two close friends got engaged and another friend took a backpack to travel the world. Another friend finished a masters degree and got a sick job. And another started teaching Spanish and has been asked several times to be a model teacher for others just starting. My students improved their writing and one won a national championship. Scholars I admire wrote books that called out white supremacy, racism and sexism through their work and encouraged me to do the same. I witnessed pain, anger, frustration, loss, and the subsequent fight to find some joy despite it all.
Before I offer my (partial) list of yays and face palms and resolutions, I want to reflect on one thing. I’ve seen many end of the year messages and posts that suggest we should cut people out of our lives who are toxic, that we must let go of those who are not ready to love us, and that those who cannot appreciate us for our flaws need to go home. I completely agree with these messages, and I wonder how, in this new year, we can hold more accountability for ourselves too. I struggled- I mean STRUGGLED- this year with balancing how to hold space for a friend or colleague or family member who needed to dump their emotions and saying no to holding that space because I didn’t have the capacity. How do we work through our own stuff while utilizing our support networks without emotionally dumping? This year I want to explore accountability of emotions. I think through my own work, I can be a better support and resource for my people.
-Met so many amazing people working to end the suffering of others
-Finished my first year in a PhD program when I said so many times I couldn’t
-Received three grants and launched Golden State Sacred, our project documenting the religious history of California
-Finished a tough mudder
-Presented for the first time at several conferences- and most importantly, lived into the nerves!
-Saw my body as strong and deserving, rather than overweight and lacking
-Got to be on an awesome podcast with one of my academic and activist heroes, and realized that I value a commitment to learning and listening perhaps more than anything
-Published a short story, an article, and a few contributions to publications I really believe in
-Learned so much about my home state through the graciousness of communities and individuals who helped me
-Helped create a public history project that brought scholars, artists and activists together
-Spent time with my family and my best friends, even if it meant I stayed up real late finishing my work to be at the Coliseum or Dodger Stadium
-Took student feedback seriously and improved my teaching (and got really lovely student reviews)
-Asked for help when I needed it (and definitely need to keep working on this one)
Face Palms (not really. But I think being vulnerable and sharing mistakes is really helpful):
-Exhibited stubborn behavior when I should have listened and acknowledged that my actions were harmful, especially as a white woman
-Stayed silent when I needed to speak out
-Took my frustration out on baristas and other workers when it was entirely not their fault my day was not going the way I wanted
-Failed to tell my therapist a few things right away because I felt shame
-Missed opportunities to communicate with people I don’t get to see or talk to every day (forgetting to text back)
-Let guilt guide my actions instead of letting go and stating my needs
-Lived into the narrative that I am not smart enough or qualified for academia because my path is different
-Allowed the patriarchy to get me down
-Exhibit ally behavior for indigenous and disabled individuals and communities and appreciate when someone takes the time to teach me.
-Tell people when I don’t have emotional capacity to hold space (and, recognize my own issues in asking for space).
-Treat my body as a gift that deserves care- instead of working out as punishment, treating working out as a gift of time, stress relief and celebration.
-Communicate more directly (even if it seems mean).
-Put my body and words on the line for the communities that do not hold the privilege I do.
-Build relationships without using English as a medium.
-Tell my friends and family when they do something fantastic.
Happy New Year, y’all! May the internet continue to save us in humor and real talk.