What I Learned in January

januaryJanuary is always the month of newness. It inspires resolutions, and then demands readjustment. By the end of thirty-one days of trying to improve everything, I’m usually ready to hibernate. Forget the New Year. I need a new bedtime.

With that first month behind us now, I’m pausing to wonder where it went. What I accomplished. What I learned.

I’ll be sincere: January did not go as I intended. I had high expectations in several areas, and I didn’t live up to them. I barely wrote a few chapters in the manuscript I planned to complete; I haven’t figured out my future yet; what I want changes at the slightest notice; when I evaluate my actions from the last month, some of them make me cringe. This year already feels like it’s off to a choppy start. Outwardly, nothing drastic has happened, but I can’t shake my inner sense of unsteadiness.

I’m tempted to delete that entire paragraph, but I’m going to leave it because I promised myself something for this year: I am going to be authentic. It’s too tempting to create a perfect persona. It’s too uncomfortable to be vulnerable and real. Yet I’m learning that I connect most truly and deeply with others when there’s a sense of sincerity. In a world of photo shop and plastic, I think we want to know what’s genuine. We want to know we aren’t the only ones who feel messy and uncertain. Every intimate detail doesn’t  need to be spread. We still need a sense of privacy. But that doesn’t mean we need to pretend we’re perfect.

So in the midst of others celebrating their life-changing resolutions, their unstoppable success, and how 2015 is the best year ever, I’m happy for those people. But I’m not going to claim I’m one of them. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

January was not the triumphant month I imagined. It had ups and downs, but I can honestly say I learned along the way. I am learning. Here is a scattering of my humble findings for last month:

  1. Even when I don’t get the results I want, there is no regret in being brave. Courage is a choice I have to make with trembling limbs and knots in my stomach, but once I do, I am free. I no longer have to wonder what would have happened if I had stepped out. Fear doesn’t deserve the final word. Faith and freedom do. It’s empowering to type those words, even though it’s a little harder to breathe seeing them.
    be brave quote birds
  2. Patience is a process. Every time I think I’ve got it mastered, I have to learn it over. And then over again.
  3. Even loners can’t always walk alone. I am an introvert through and through, and I lean towards working by myself. I’ve recently discovered the true value of teamwork, though. I used to talk a good game about it, but now I’ve played it. And on a great team, everybody really does win. I’ve been able to watch this happen in ministry, at work, and recently in writing when I joined the fantastic team of The Fangirl Initiative(Which is a super fun, nerdy blog! Here are a few posts I’ve had the pleasure of sharing there.)
  4. It’s important to make time for what makes me happy and whole. A couple of weeks ago, I stayed up reading until 4 AM, something I hadn’t done in years. It actually felt amazing. I need books to read like I need air to breathe; I need to journal and clear my head often. And I need to make that a priority, not a luxury. Rest should be a gift, not something I have to earn by doing enough work.
  5. Speaking of books, we can no longer say Harper Lee published only one! In a bizarre twist of fate, the novel she wrote before To Kill a Mockingbird is being released at last this summer. Decades later, the public will have something of a sequel to the beloved American classic… The beloved classic I have yet to read. Since To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic, I kind of felt there was no rush. Now that the buzz is all about the sequel, Go Set a Watchman, I probably need to get a move on!
  6. Bookworms share a common problem: There are so many reasons to buy books! It’s impossibly hard not to give in to all of them! Dratted budgets. Thank you all for the brilliant response to my last bookish post- I’m so glad to know I’m not alone in my struggle. 😉
  7. Words have such power. In the last month, several people spoke encouragement to me, whether through texting, over Twitter or in person. They may never realize the light those words gave me, but I’ve clung to them. Speak kindly. Lift others. You never know how you’ll inspire them.
  8. Even the best intentions may go awry. I fully intended to have this post finished in time to participate in the link-up on one of my favorite blogs, Chatting at the SkySadly, I missed the deadline. I didn’t want to miss reflecting on January, though, so here it is. And if you’d like to see what other bloggers learned in January, here is the post I was *supposed* to add my link to. 

What did you learn in January? Is there anything you’ll change for February, or do the same? How has this month started off for you?

All the best for February!

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6 thoughts on “What I Learned in January

  1. Thank you so much for not erasing that paragraph, it’s your voice! It’s the truth. And it meant a lot to me for someone to be so bold as to say, “I can’t make up my mind what I want!” The year has started out well for me, I’ve read more than I expected to and have started writing my book, finally, but I still struggled. Some days ended in tears, and other were just off kilter and blah. However, in January, I learned too. Keep writing! And keep learning. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marissa, I really can’t express how much your kind words mean to me! I was really second guessing this post, so your comment really touched me. Thanks for sharing how you felt in January, too! I am so familiar with those days ending in tears, or just feeling off. That’s one of my favorite things about writing- it lets us know we aren’t alone. ❤
      Congratulations again on starting your book! I cannot wait to read it!!! In the meantime, I'll be looking out for your other book recommendations. 🙂

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  2. Thanks for posting this. I don’t open up about things like this nearly as much as I probably should, so its inspiring to see you do it! I hope I can learn that lesson about being brave. And about appreciating rest when you can get it!

    I usually don’t like it when people tell me I have to read a certain book, but in this case, you have to read To Kill a Mockingbird. It is entirely amazing.

    And no, you will never be alone on #6. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading it, Hanna! I completely understand how hard it is to open up, so I’m really happy this post was inspiring! As for being brave… I’m not sure I’ll ever have that lesson learned completely. 😉

      Since your recommendations are always wonderful, I will certainly accept your insistence I read To Kill a Mockingbird! I’ll have to let you know when I get to it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful post, Sarah! Thanks for sharing all you’ve learned, and thanks especially for making it seem like a splendid thing to stay up until 4:00 am reading. I haven’t done that in so long, and now I have a strong urge to do just that. Perhaps this was not the intended effect you wished to have on your readers, but it happened just the same.
    Who needs sleep anyway?

    Liked by 1 person

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