Welcome, 2020! It is so nice to see you.

While I don’t love the idea of New Years’ resolutions (only because I’m a firm believer in changing your life however you want to on any given day), I always choose a word to guide me through the year. Most often I choose a word that encapsulates what I want more of so that I have something to work towards all year long. But it’s not just a new year, it’s a new decade, and I felt compelled to reflect on the last decade before I chose my word for 2020.

The last decade boasted an abundance of major life milestones for me. I graduated more than once, learned how to live on my own, got engaged to my high school sweetheart, and entered the workforce. I experienced grief and loss for the first time, moved more times than I can count on one hand, and went to therapy for the first time.

Through self-reflection of these life events, I quickly realized that I had been plagued by perfectionism. Sure, I had accomplished a lot, but I also remember feeling terrified of being imperfect. I held myself to unrealistic expectations for no other reason than to feel accomplished and to prove my worth to others. Perfection manifested in my life in so many ways:

  • In high school, I ran for Student Body President (because I felt obligated) and when I lost the election, I felt disappointed in my efforts for months
  • I moved away to college (even though I didn’t want to and wasn’t ready) and chose fields of study that I felt would lead to a respectable career because I felt like I “should”
  • I graduated from UCCS with two bachelor’s degrees and a 3.97 GPA – I cried multiple times over the B- that “ruined” my perfect 4.0 GPA
  • Two days after my Grandpa passed away, I studied tirelessly and drove two hours to UCCS to take a midterm exam for my summer class (I got 100% on the exam) because I “needed to”
  • I stayed at my first job out of college for far longer than I should have despite the fact that it was destroying my mental health simply because it was “in my field” and I felt like I “had to”

The list goes on.

As I tried to decide upon my word for 2020, I sat with my decade-long list of accomplishments all contributed to some length of perfectionism. Reflecting on my perfectionist tendencies reminded me of Reshma Saujani’s book, Brave, Not Perfect. I read Brave, Not Perfect in March of 2019 for the first time and enthusiastically recommended it to my friends and family members for the remainder of the year.

The idea that young girls are taught to be perfect which later leads women to be afraid to fail was…so ridiculously relatable and reached the deepest layers of my core. After re-reading through my decade-long list of accomplishments with Reshma Saujani’s message in mind, I decided I wanted to kiss the perfect girl goodbye and seek out bravery.

My word for 2020 (and intention for the decade) is brave. I will seek out uncomfortable situations because I am brave. Sometimes I might feel scared to do something, but I will do it anyway because I am brave. I will strive for progress and not perfection. I will let go of who I think I am supposed to be and will embrace who I am in its full entirety. I will live boldly and will open failure with arms wide open because failure leads to growth and greatness in all the right ways.

Bravery will lead me to exactly where I want to be.