Some people recap their year in photos. Others set resolutions. I like to take the time each year to reflect on all of the lessons I’ve learned, whether they be good or bad. 2017 was another… interesting… year to say the least. But despite the weirdness, I took away some great life lessons. Always a little bit older and wiser:
- Invest in yourself. If you think back to the people in your life at the start of last year, chances are many of them are no longer in your life to the same extent this year. That’s okay, but that shows that you can’t always rely on people as a source of happiness. There is one person you can rely on, however. Yourself. Plan a life for yourself, be flexible, but stick to your guns. Don’t give up the things you’ve always wanted for a person. People don’t always stay, but know yourself well enough and you’ll have a friend for life.
- Masking pain will only make it worse. Think about it. If you sprain your ankle, pop a few ibuprofen and keep running on it without actually taking time to address the problem, you’re just going to make it worse. The same holds true for all other kinds of pain. Sometimes the best (and only way) to get through it is to actually feel it. Cry. Throw something heavy (the gym comes in handy for this). Find some sort of outlet. But keeping it bottled up is only going to hurt you in the long run and keep you feeling down for longer than needed. Don’t make stupid decisions and blame it on someone who hurt you. Get up, get through it, face it head on and move on. …with that being said, there’s also no limit on the amount of time one “should” take to get over something. Everyone heals differently. Respect that.
- To find out who your true friends are, move 1,000 miles away. Those who care will make their presence known.
- Buy a self-help book. Or 3 or 4. Hit up Barnes & Noble. (Need a few ideas? New blog with suggestions to come soon). It may sound cheesy and you might laugh at the very thought of it, but I promise it’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. In fact, plenty of the most successful people on the planet contribute some of their success to reading self-help books. And then have gone on to write them themselves. Read more in general, too. Turn off the Netflix binge for one hour and flip through some actual, hard copy pages for once. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your life improves.
- Be okay with life taking you places you never knew existed. If you asked me last year where I would be six months after graduation, there’s no way in hell I’d answer grad school. Even less of a chance I’d say grad school in Alabama. I planned on heading straight into the working world. Probably still living in Syracuse. Then I planned on moving to Nashville. I was all over the place. But when opportunity knocks, you’d be a fool not to at least answer the door. You don’t always have to buy what opportunity is selling, but hear it out. And take a leap of faith every once in awhile.
- Figure out what means the most to you in life. I’ve learned very quickly I can’t do everything. As much as I like to think I’m superwoman, it’s impossible to accommodate my own needs along with everyone else’s, get a solid 8 hours of sleep every night, go to the gym for hours upon hours every day, work, do homework, spend time with family and friends. It just isn’t possible. So pick and choose. Know what truly makes you happy and what things you can’t imagine living without, and focus on these. For me, it’s family, and my few close friends, staying healthy and being able to do one or two things I’m really passionate about (traveling, writing, designing). When adulthood strikes, you realize you can only be stretched so thin- someone has to do the laundry, make the meals, fill the tank, etc. etc. etc. So what little free time you have, make the most of it.
- Persevere. I have been so sick for so many years. Test after test, diet after diet, stuck by more needles than I can count. I have memories of one too many nights rolling around on the floor in tears because the pain was so bad. I’ve frustrated my parents to no end, tried without success to explain what I’m going through to doctors, and definitely run up a few medical bills. But just this past week I received news that I’m FINALLY (although slowly) getting healthier. My immune system seems to be, for whatever reason, recovering. Things are looking up. My days of excruciating pain have lessened. Me and my pill organizer are ready to take on the world!! The same applies for just about anything in life I’ve learned. Nothing worth having comes easy. If you really want it, go get it. Don’t stop til’ you have it.
- Finish what you started. When I first moved to Alabama, I was incredibly homesick. Coming off of a summer of care-free living, time spent with family and friends and, honestly, know idea of what real responsibility feels like, the fist few months were tough for me. Culture shock was real, and after going to undergrad where I could pop home any time I needed a home-cooked meal or a chat with my mom, being far from home was weird. I came so close to accepting a job back home, which would have changed the direction of my life permanently. But I stuck it out, got through the semester and honestly couldn’t imagine it any other way. I’ve made some of the closest/best friendships of my life, remembered how freeing and powerful it feels to be completely independent, living entirely on your own, and remembered why I chose to move in the first place. Things take time. Sure, not everything is meant to be, and know yourself well enough to know when something isn’t right, but give it a fair try.
- Sleep when you’re dead. Don’t get me wrong, be healthy, get enough sleep. I’ve learned one too many times that if I go just a few too many nights without sleep I pretty much guarantee I’ll land myself in the doctor’s office. But seriously. Go out with friends. Live life. There’s too many people in this world who would kill to be healthy and out there experiencing things. Don’t waste what precious moments you have.
- Never take a single day for granted. Life isn’t guaranteed. That’s all I have to say about this one.
With this year I’ve laughed and cried, made new friends and lost some old, but have had one of the most incredible years of my life. I’ve realized so much about what’s truly important, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.
Happy New Year everyone! xo