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New Year , Best You with Paulina Dao

New Year , Best You with Paulina Dao

By Paulina Dao

Last year I eschewed resolutions. Not for any particular reason, mostly out of sheer forgetfulness and apathy.

In another life, I might have been a cat. If I could lay in bed forever, I would. I don’t mind going days without leaving the house or seeing another person. I crave those quiet moments. I’m also perfectly content with heading out just on my own, or with just me and my boyfriend. My idea of a good Friday night consists of coming home from work and drinking wine while watching Netflix.

I wanted to break out of my shell. What that entailed, I wasn’t really sure. I wanted real, personal growth, not a checkmark on an arbitrary new year todo list. I set my intention for the year as “open”. Open to new experiences, new friendships, whatever came my way.

Open led to my first all-female adventure. For the first time in my life, I had actual, real friends who were women. Growing up, I was always so awkward; it was just easier to be “one of the guys.” I thought other women were mean and catty. Then I would see women hiking and climbing with other women that I envied that connection. I spent a lot much time wondering and wishing for ladies to laugh with about Diva Cups and astrology. All it took was a little bit of courage to reach out to women that I knew and admired to get the ball rolling.

Open led to a hipster camping trip in the woods where I didn’t know anyone attending. Which led to new friendships. Which led to backpacking to Pear Lake with a group of relative strangers.

Open brought me to community. I ran social media for the Bay Area Climbers Coalition, inspiring local climbers to protect our outdoor climbing spaces. I founded Bay Area Outdoor Women, a Facebook group to bring local women together for adventure and fun.

While saying yes to new experiences is fun, it also led to lots of exhaustion. I’m very good at packing my schedule until nothing else fits. I go and I go and I go until there’s absolutely no more go. I became more open to hitting the brakes and taking a step back to breathe.

Open also meant taking time to reflect upon myself and my actions. Why was I so judgemental of someone climbing in a sports bra? Why did I care that someone wore makeup outside?

The best or improved me isn’t about climbing a grade harder or losing ten pounds—no matter how nice achieving those might be. At the end of the day, I won’t look back fondly on days at the gym or the calories I counted. I’ll look back on friendships forged and laughing hysterically in the backcountry. I’ll reminisce on understanding myself better.

Last year I committed to being more open. This year, I’ll continue with the same.