This year may have broken you down, knocking you to your knees, leaving you gasping for breath and longing for the strength to carry on. Your heart may have grown heavy and your soul may have tired as you fought to stay another minute, another hour, another day. But if you’re haranguing yourself for not accomplishing your wildest dreams this year, remember that you’ve achieved the most important milestone: staying alive through tremendous, insurmountable pain.
If your biggest accomplishment this year was staying alive, I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of you for committing to life.
You might have struggled against your body and mind this year, fighting the belief that your circumstances will never improve. You may have felt overcome by your darkest moments, desperately wondering if and when your pain will end, devoting your waning energy to planning your last breath. But despite your internal trauma, you chose to reconnect with the light, remember the hope, and thrust your spirit into reclaiming life’s simple joys.
I’m proud of you for following your own path.
You may feel weighed down by the reminders of what could have been – the proud commencement photos, the carefree vacations, the joyful marriages and delighted parents. You may convince yourself that you should be further along, delving headfirst into the life you’re slowly learning to embrace. But even though you may feel buried under comparisons and what-ifs, you solidified your desire to achieve in your own time, celebrating your proudest successes, taking the first halting, difficult steps towards the life of your dreams.
I’m proud of you for putting yourself first.
You may feel wholeheartedly defeated on your path to healing, frustrated that you can no longer devote your time and energy to all you hold dear. You may feel guilty that your job lingers in the back of your mind, that your friends have missed your presence as you’ve fought against yourself. But though you may ruminate over all you’ve left behind, you set necessary limits and prioritized your needs, discovering the importance of self-care as you fought for your life, breath by breath.
As the sun sets on this heart-wrenching year and regret for the life you left behind may settle in your heart, I hope you remember that you’ve achieved the sweetest victory: living when every breath hurts, loving when every piece of your heart aches, persisting through the seemingly impossible. If your biggest accomplishment this year was staying alive through your pain, I’m proud of you, and I hope you take pride in yourself, too.
Previously published on Thought Catalog.