How Times Have Changed: 2023 Is Going to Be My Year

The new year is a good opportunity to take stock of your life

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by Kristiana Page |

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As we start the new year, I’m feeling very introspective. This time last year, as I curled up with a book on a beach in South Australia, I felt the same way.

From the age of 18 to 25, I spent every summer working as a barista. In my oceanside hometown of Ocean Grove, mid-December through February is the peak of the tourist season. While all of the out-of-town visitors kicked back with another latte, I got lost in the hustle and bustle of hospitality. Working the summer season meant plenty of available shifts and steady money. But it also meant that I sacrificed winding down for work.

If I had to summarize my life over the past six years in a single word, it would be “busy.” I’ve spent years packing my hours and days like a suitcase before the flight home from an overseas trip. The seams were always bursting — one more thing and the zipper was ready to give way.

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While presented under the guise of “productivity,” overcommitting my time has long been my most toxic coping method. For years, the prospect of silence was terrifying to me. I filled my time until there was barely enough room to breathe. I didn’t want the opportunity to stop, sit, and think, so I made it disappear.

When you’re fighting a battle against your own body, it’s like constantly being filled with adrenaline. For the longest time, I needed to focus on anything but what was right in front of me — anything but my chronic illness. When you need a distraction, “busy” is easy and good. But a time in my life has come when distractions no longer serve me.

How times have changed.

Slowing down

After years of fighting and running, I’m tired. I want to stop. I’ve finally found happiness and peace within myself and I want to enjoy it. I don’t want to constantly feel my heart race anymore. I want my life to be slower.

Last year, I took a gamble. Against my manager’s wishes, I booked holidays from Christmas to New Year’s and beyond. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I never knew how much I had missed while working all those summers. While everyone else took time off, I would run straight through the end of one year and charge right into the next.

What I’ve loved most about taking days off during the Christmas holiday is the time to take stock of my life. I love sitting on the beach somewhere by the water with absolutely nothing in the cards. It’s time designated for nothing except simply existing. There’s nothing for me to do and nowhere for me to be. No pressure and no commitments — except maybe passion fruit gelati, if I fancy!

What an opportunity it is to spend the end of a year and the start of the next in a state of reflection. This is the healthiest I’ve felt in a long, long time. The fatigue hasn’t disappeared, but it hasn’t been at its worst in a while, touch wood.

What a feeling it is to survey my life and realize that I’ve never been happier. I look at the year ahead with a lot of hope and gratitude. I’m so grateful to be where I am, with the people I love, on track to something wonderful. I know there will always be bumps in the road, but I feel more equipped now than ever to deal with them.

I wish I could travel back in time and talk to my younger self during key moments of struggle. I wish I could hold her close and tell her it’s all going to be OK. If she could look me in the eyes, she’d know that it’s all going to be worth it. I know I could give her the hope I used to wish I had.

I’m not naive, I know that nothing lasts forever. I know that one day lupus is going to rear its big, ugly head once again and I’ll be back to square one. It’s not always going to feel like this. But I have no intention of letting that future truth ruin what I have right here, right now.

I’ve fought long and hard to be where I am. I deserve to be happy. And you know what? After six years of screaming from the rooftops that every year was going to be my year, I think this one actually might be.

I just have this gut feeling that 2023 has great things in store for me. I can’t explain why, but I have no intention of fighting it.

A young woman and man sit on the step of what looks like a wooden patio outside a warm and inviting home; both are smiling and holding a furry chow chow dog between them.

Kristiana with her partner, Felix, and their friend’s dog, Rory, on New Year’s, starting the year with a smile. (Photo by Zoe Scott)

Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.