The 28 Day Challenge

Shortly before the month of February began, I received an email from a colleague about a February challenge: #28DaysStronger. The idea was to spend 28 minutes a day for yourself—going for a walk, a workout class, etc. If you missed a day (which was totally normal & encouraged), you could make it up another day. I was 100% in, especially since I try to do some activity every day already. But committing to a challenge like this got me thinking: what else could I do to make the 28 days of February, traditionally a dull, grey month, special? I realized that beyond the physical component of being stronger, I was missing a social component: I wanted to use the month to make my relationships stronger as well. So I set an additional goal for myself: spend time with someone I care about every single day, whether it be in person or on the phone.

That sounds simple—but when you're me, someone who enjoys a quiet evening to myself and battle a certain level of social anxiety, it's a hefty goal. I started with an easy target: on February 1st, I called my mom. We caught up about our lives, how we hadn't talked in a few weeks, and I hung up the phone smiling and feeling loved. Day 2 was just as encouraging: I called a dear friend from college and talked about everything we always talk about, even making plans to see each other in person at the end of the month. Day 3 was an in-person connection, spending quality time with another girlfriend after work that was filled with laughs and left me feeling completely content and relaxed, instead of drained like social endeavors often do. 

Could it be that giving myself the goal to meet helped me see the value in pushing myself out of my comfort zone? Day after day of the challenge started to pass by with no problem—I slipped into the habit of calling a friend or family member on the way home from work, hoping to catch them so I could hear about their lives, relishing the change in pace from the typical text conversations that we've grown accustomed to. "It's so good to hear your voice" has become a genuine mantra, a strength-giving experience that makes me feel like a phone call can be more powerful than I ever realized.

And here's the thing: it's only Day 8! I'm excitedly planning out my weeks (as I always have) but finding new reasons to catch up with friends, old and new, as I challenge myself to be a more supportive friend, a stronger individual, and a better member of society. To think, February used to be a dreary month. Now I think I'll cherish it more than ever before.