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Reflecting on 2022: Joy, Lessons and Radical Rest

A single year is a short and long period of time.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s “just” one year. On the other hand, it’s 365 days full of joys, frustrations, decisions and competing demands. Especially as it was the first year for me since 2020 that felt a little more recognizable.

I've been reflecting on “everything” that happened this year — and it’s a lot!

The sheer quantity of events and achievements of 2022 boggles my mind when I tally them up.

A few stand out quite clearly:

  • My book Inclusion On Purpose released on March 1, 2022. It became a #1 Amazon bestseller and was backordered within a few months after it debuted (the demand for my book exceeded expectations — proving that there is a market for books on DEI written by women of color!)

  • I joined Brené Brown’s podcast Dare to Lead for three episodes: once in April to talk about my book, and twice in October to reflect on inclusion and belonging with my dear friend, Aiko Bethea.

  • Moving DEI from Intention to Impact, my first LinkedIn Learning course, came out in September. Less than three months later and it’s reached 100K learners!

  • The countless heartfelt feedback from people all over the world, particularly women of color, who went out of their way to email, message and comment to me that my work has made them feel seen, understood, and valued. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Your messages mean the world to me, and are the fuel that keeps me going when times are hard.

The truth is that while the events of this year have exceeded my wildest dreams, there have been many bittersweet and even flat-out heartbreaking moments.

This year felt like an endless run where I often couldn’t see a finish line, and it was exhausting! Sometimes I honestly wonder: does the positive impact I’m able to make — which I feel honored and grateful to do — justify the ways I haven’t always been able to show up for myself, my family, and my community?

Here’s a case in point: right when my book launched, I got quite sick. The only remedy to this non-contagious illness was rest and being prescribed medication at a doctor’s clinic. But I did not rest and I delayed a doctor’s visit until I was dealing with a much more advanced version of a usually-easily-treated condition when caught early.

As I hope you know from reading my work and being in my community, I never advocate that you work or “power through” a challenging time, mentally, physically or emotionally.

And yet… that’s exactly what I did. I chose to “power through” my illness because I thought “that’s what authors do.”

When Boundaries Feel Like Letting Down Your Community

I believe that some (if not most) of my “power through” urge comes from being a woman of color. When your identities are underestimated and you have the opportunity to make an impact for your community on big stages, there’s an enormous sense of responsibility not to let your community down or to “waste” your chance. You have to work so hard to get those opportunities in the first place. And when you do, it’s exciting and you’re grateful and humbled, and… you’re likely to be worn out and burned out, too. In fact, one of the toughest parts of this year has been saying no to women of color. I always want to live and lead by offering mentorship and advice to women of color, but this year I had to say no to many requests for support. That was hard for me — and it speaks to the lack of support structures for women of color, which I hope my work can help to change in the coming years. With that in mind, I’m so grateful for everyone who showed up for me this year — it is no small thing to give support!

My Hope for 2023: Radical Rest

As I consider the lessons from this year that I want to take into 2023:

  • I’m committing to doing less.

  • I’m committed to spending more time with my family, particularly my family in Singapore.

  • And I’m committing to making rest a priority. (My inspiration is Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey, which I highly recommend.)

To answer the question I posed earlier — is the positive impact I’m able to make “worth it”? — the answer is both/and. I’m both humbled and amazed by the impact I can have, and I believe I can make that impact while doing less and resting more. Now, it’s your turn: what lessons from 2022 are you taking into the New Year? Is less or rest a priority? I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.


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