This last year was an eye-opening experience to show us that many things are not under our control. For some millennials, this truly may have been the very first time that choice had been forcefully removed.

The choice to travel. To go to parties. To go to school or to a job you love. The choice to date, to be with friends. To wear what you want, celebrate when an occasion arises, or something as simple as going to the store when you feel like it.

People don’t like being told what to do. This is nothing new.

For many of us in North America, this whole conundrum has been shocking because we are so privileged. We have gotten very used to doing whatever we want, when we want and when things don’t go our way…..send in the marines because we are about to give you an ear full.

I speak from first hand experience because I can be very particular about my circumstances. My morning routine is sacred, I am particular about what I eat, who I surround myself with and I work hard when I choose the work that I want to do.

So when I’m in a foul mood, feeling sorry for myself or wishing for a different circumstance, who is to blame? Was I not the one who created my particular circumstances?

My ability to create my circumstances is a massive privilege. If I am able to choose where I live, who I live with, what kind of work I do, what state of health my body is in, and who I spend my time with…..I am privileged.

If I am able to wake and choose how I spend my day…..I am privileged.

If I am able to change anything about my current circumstance…..I am privileged.

Some are able to change everything. Their work, their partnerships, their living conditions, their home, their health…..everything. This does not mean that any of these changes are simple, easy, advisable, or without their own fair share of hardship. This means that it is possible.

Some work three jobs, are locked into living situations that they cannot change and are purely surviving. Many of us speak as if this is us…but this is not the case.

While I can’t change everything about my circumstances, especially during a pandemic, I can change many things about myself. I can change these things no matter my circumstance:

I can choose how I want to see things; what lens I use
I can choose how I spend my time
I can choose what to remember, and what to forget
I can choose to live in the past, or look forward to the future
I can choose to change my mood
I can choose to redirect my attention
I can choose a new path if I don’t like the road I’m on

I recognize my privilege and circumstance and use that as a means to empower myself. If I don’t like my memories it’s time for me to stop ruminating on the past. If I don’t like the road I’m on, It’s time to change my direction. If I don’t like how my body feels it’s time to feed and move it differently. If I don’t like my work, it’s time for me to change what I do, or how I do it.

Because who else is responsible for my life and my joy? If I am privileged enough to have choice in any area of my life, who am I to have grievances? Who am I to complain? And most importantly, if I am privileged enough to have the power to change……why would I not use that?

I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past, wishing for something different without doing something different. I don’t do that anymore. The privilege to redirect my energy and choices at any time is not something that I throw away anymore.

2020 was a really good year for me. I lost my studio, all the money I’ve ever made, I cancelled every trip I had planned, I got really sick, I gained weight and I moved somewhere I always said I would hate.

And I have never been happier.

Going through all of that reminded me of my privilege and what was actually important. Losing choices reminded me of what I had. Seeing my health and body as shifting, vulnerable and ever-changing made me take better care of it. Losing my money taught me to work harder. Losing my job opened up the possibility for me to redirect my efforts and talents. My circumstances got a lot worse this year, but my attitude got better, my efforts got stronger and my lens got clearer.

Your circumstances are less important than you think. What has happened to you, matters much less than what you choose to do afterwards. What you think and what you do with your circumstances is what really matters.

So for 2021, my wish for you all is that you lose your jobs, get sick, get dumped, step in dog poo…….no no just kidding, I don’t wish that all.

But I do wish that you can see how much you have, how empowered you can be and how privileged you are to be able to live this life, change within this life, and adapt to your circumstances, no matter what they are.

Because choice and action are powerful tools. If you don’t like how this last year went, notice what was out of your control. Notice what was within your control and put your attention on the things that can change. You can adapt to any circumstance and how adaptable you are will determine your resilience.

Joy is possible, no matter your circumstances. Cheers to the new year and a boatload of new lessons and feels.

With grace and grit,
Karla Treadway