The High Holy Days - Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and the intervening Days of Awe - are an interesting time of year for me.
At synagogue, we talk about our sins and past transgressions. We read prayers and hear sermons about asking others for forgiveness for the wrongs we've committed against them, and we take time to reflect on our misdeeds.
Here's the thing though: I already have tendencies toward the neurotic, the anxious, the self-obsessed. I'm pretty good at playing on endless loop in my head those conversations where I brushed someone off, where I was impatient or unkind, where I said something mean or thoughtless or cruel.
I'm pretty good at kicking myself when I'm already down, at beating myself up for not working hard enough, or doing a good enough job, or for being and giving less than my best. When someone else does something sweet for me, I can start to run through the tally in my head to see where I've let them down before, where I've been less generous, where I've failed to deserve the kindness they are showing me. It's not a healthy cycle.
I don't really need some external pressure to focus on my fuck-ups: it's taken a lot of work to be able to focus on anything else.
So sometimes this time of year leads me into a slump, where I just double down on the negative thoughts in my head of all the times I've done wrong.
I don't think that's really what the holiday is about.
This is also the time of year for forgiveness. This year I realized that that includes me, too. So this year, I'm asking myself for forgiveness.
I've tossed my bread crumbs into the water, and I'm going to take that symbolic fresh start and run with it and not look back.
I'll never be perfect, and I'll always make mistakes. But I can keep trying, and growing, and hoping for more good days to outweigh the bad. And I'm not going to - or at least, I'm trying hard not to - let the weight of my past mistakes pull me down so that I get too disheartened to move forward, to try again, to try harder.
It's a fresh start, and I'm moving forward.
*Life: Available for a Limited Time Only is a poster by Words Brand available at Society6. Honestly Not Even Trying to Be Here is a piece I photographed at a previous DUMBO ArtWalk and I screwed up and don't know the artist. The bottom picture was taken by me at Governor's Ball one year.