Change Starts With Me by Yvonne Colton

I remember growing up as a young girl in the 90s obsessed with Disney princesses and the classic damsel in distress mentality. I would swoon over the dashing princes and men who would save the day, and of course my life wouldn’t be complete without the color pink!

My mother was a marketing manager for a well-known company in Rochester and she worked extremely hard. It was through her I understood that it wasn’t optional for me to not be independent and excel at school and my chosen profession. I understood that. And yet, as a young girl, another part of me was expecting someone or something to always come to my rescue should life throw me a curve ball.

Fast forward to these present days, and you’ll find a whole lot wrong! Struggling personal relationships, coronavirus, politics, hybrid learning, and of course toilet paper! There’s a lot of chaos and noise right now. 2020 has proven itself to be one of the most challenging years I’ve ever experienced. Oh 2020, your disorder has caused me fatigue and heartbreak. This year has been especially trying on my emotional health and it’s taken a heavy toll. And yet….there’s a part of me that’s thrived, grown and become stronger. I can feel it in my core! Rather than avoid any disillusionments I might have had in the past, I’ve taken the time to deconstruct the fact that I’m not owed a financial, emotional, or physical rescue by anyone. I’ve come to the realization that even in the midst of all this disorder, and completely contrary to my line of thinking when I was a young girl, any change, any hope, and most assuredly, any peace, must start with me…

Oh 2020, your disorder has caused me fatigue and heartbreak. This year has been especially trying on my emotional health and it’s taken a heavy toll. And yet….there’s a part of me that’s thrived.
Yvonne Colton
Change starts with me

To rely on others for strength and resilience is not a problem in and of itself. But if we cannot empower ourselves first, then we are truly lost in my opinion.

Through all the mayhem of this year, I’ve been able to see more clearly as I’ve reconstructed what I thought to be an infallible formula to life. Change truly starts with me! This year I’ve thrived in a new church of my own choosing. I’ve found renewed spiritual nourishment from this church because the members are open and welcome all. 2020 has practically shoved me into the practice of yoga. I’d never even considered it prior to this year, however to maintain my own sense of calm and find focus within myself, I ended up trying it and loving it. I’ve taken the time to connect with friends virtually who I’d never given much effort to contact in previous years because we are all in different states. It did my soul well to laugh and catch up with them. I’ve also started a new passion project that I am working on. The planning and networking for it has been such an exciting experience and it’s helped me focus on my identity and what mark I’d like to leave on the world.

I’ve been encouraging others to also embrace the fact that change truly starts with them. It is akin to the antithesis of capitalism. Our nation can be extremely cut throat and individualistic. It can make us believe that the individual acquisition of money is the only measure of success. On the contrary, I’d say be individualistic by developing inner peace and growing yourself. This will build a positive community all around. It will become apparent in the way that we treat each other.
The cup example is so familiar yet true. If my own cup isn’t filled, then how can I possibly overflow my giving to others? If my own inner peace isn’t there, then what good is it to seek it out in others? The same could be said for strength, determination, positivity, and joy. I’m not saying I need to master all of this excellence in one year, it is a work in progress. I must plant the seeds, water them over time, and then allow them to blossom.

2020 for all its calamity, has given me time to be self-reflective and find the inner strength I suppose I didn’t know was there. This has been critical in my personal development. Interestingly, I said on NYE 2019 that 2020 was going to be my year of clear vision and progress. I had little clue as to the hurdles life would throw at me, but I still feel that I’ve received clarity. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I’ve “known” myself this much in any other year. Doors have been opened and the lights have turned on.

As 2020 comes to a close, I say that I embrace it with the understanding that life is short, and that a lesson on life ought to be learned with each passing year. It’s been incredibly stressful, but why am I to assume life comes without stress? It’s my job to do the best I can with what cards I’ve been dealt. My biggest take way from this year is that change and growth come from within. I commit to watering this seed of realization daily.

Photograph by Adam Eaton
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