2018 was an unexpected year for me. Following a fall freak out where I thought for sure I wasn’t meant to be in grad school, almost moved back home to take a dead end job and live at home, everything changed come the new year. During the 6 months of winter and spring, I traveled more than I ever could have possibly imagined. I made some life-long friends (Aubs crew, I’m looking at you). I made plans to move to a new state across the country with my best friends, and I reconnected with somebody incredibly special to me, someone I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. I listened to my body, took care of myself and started doing more things that made me happy instead of always trying to please everyone else. And, as always, I learned some things. Grew another year older and one could even say wiser.
I started this blog with the tagline “making sense of my twenties.” Halfway between my 23rd and 24th years, I can’t say that much makes sense quite yet, but I think I’m getting closer. Per GuessItsJess tradition, here’s some of the things that carried me through 2018. Happy new year y’all:
It’s okay to say no. Listen to what your body needs above all else. Don’t feel pressured into doing things you know you don’t want to or shouldn’t do. At the same time, take risks and chances, go do something out of your comfort zone once in awhile, don’t become a potato that stays in bed every weekend and blame it on “listening to your body.” Balance, people, balance.
“Setbacks” can be blessings in disguise. I’m writing this as I’m chatting with one of my closest friends in Alabama about life’s surprises, and how things that may seem like the end of the world at the time open a whole new window of opportunity. How these unexpected twists and turns give us things we didn’t know we needed, and bring us one step closer to exactly where we’re supposed to be. We’re humans, we think we know it all, but that greater power above knows has to keep us on our toes somehow.
Put good out, get good back. Y’all may know this more commonly as KARMA. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I swear the days I do something selfless for someone else, something great always happens in return. Maybe it’s just the feel-good effect, paying it forward, but either way I’ll take it. Put good vibes into the universe and eventually those vibes will circle back around and hit you.
You may not feel like you’re making a difference even when you are. I’ve had horrifying stomach pain for 6-7 years now. As it turns out, I would say the majority of people (girls, especially) my age are going through something very similar. And like I was for so long, so many people are afraid to speak out about it, because, let’s be real, it’s embarrassing. But the less we talk about it publicly, we’re unaware that others are going through the same thing, and the cycle continues. There’s never any progress, we all just keep on living with our pain, thinking there’s nothing we can do. Even the smallest act of standing up for yourself can in return help others stand up for themselves. The more I put my pride on the back burner, the more people came up to me, letting me know they were inspired to visit a doctor themselves. Do what you believe to be the right thing, and even if you don’t think it’s helping someone else, chances are, it is.
Just because people leave your life doesn’t mean it’s for forever. This one is probably one of the hardest to believe. When all you want to do is talk to that one person, see them, hold them, and they’re not there.. it’s gut wrenching. But people will work their way back into your life if they’re meant to be there. There’s no way of ever knowing if and when they’ll come back, but there has to be some peace in knowing that whichever way it’s mean to play out, it will.
A good coffee shop is the cheapest therapy. I’ve spent my fair share of time this past year in a coffee shop. Whether it was writing my comps in record time in Alabama, daydreaming and planning my next moves in California, or desperately trying to find a job back home in New York, there is something to be said for a quiet place to get your work done, surrounded by creativity, with a side of caffeine.
You never know until you try. Or ask. The worst anyone can say is no. And then you pick yourself up and move on. Some of the greatest things I’ve ever done have happened because I took a chance. Sent a risky text. Asked for the day off. Asked to go along on a trip. Use your judgement, too- even if someone says no, it doesn’t necessarily always mean no. When I first decided I was going to graduate early, I was told no, it’s not possible. I came back the next day with a game plan and the story was completely different. The more you get shot down, the quicker you learn to get back up. Resiliency. It’s one of the most powerful drugs out there. Alongside endorphins 😉
Speaking of endorphins, life lesson number nine- lift heavy. This one took me awhile. When I was first getting back in the gym, I did what I was comfortable with, what I knew. Years of team sports in high school meant I was conditioned to do cardio, maybe with a little bit of core. But we never lifted, hardly stretched. With the discovery of Krissy Cela, 2018 brought me a whole new world of working out. You don’t know stress relief until you beat a PR or start throwing around heavy objects at the gym. And lifting doesn’t mean you have to bulk up like the Hulk. You can lose weight and look great by lifting, plus it’ll make you more confident as a person, I promise.
Know your worth. If you have a talent, don’t let people take advantage of it. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you deserve nothing in return for what you do. People, especially in the working world, will try to make you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. Stay true to who you know you are, demand to be compensated. Pay your dues, yes, but take credit where credit is due.
You have to be different to stand out. People will be cruel when you have something they don’t, so if you’re feeling the heat, feeling bullied or alienated, odds are you’re doing something right. The most successful people in life are those who were different – who had crazy ideas and were told they were crazy, maybe even a little bit weird. Don’t let this stop you. Keep on doin’ you, boo.
Creativity will rise and fall like waves. You may feel like it’s gone forever and then one night it will hit you like a freight train, you’ll be laying in bed at midnight, barely able to keep your eyes open, and suddenly it’s rushing back, the words are flowing out of you faster than your little fingers can type. Or your hand can paint, etc. It is never gone. It will always return. Don’t give up on it, make sure you have a place for it to go when it comes back. But pay attention, creativity is a job in itself, it may not always be obvious and it comes with hard work. But nothing worth having has ever come easy, right?
Talk to people more. Everyone is out there just trying to make it, trying to share their story. We’re really not all as different as we like to make ourselves out to be. Ask. Listen. Support one another. People just want to be heard.
Be patient. I feel like I don’t even have to elaborate on this one. Sometimes there will be weeks, months, years that pass by where you’re just not sure you can go one moment more waiting for something to happen. Wait it out. It will come. All in due time.
Listen to your damn heart. Leave it to me to end on a cliche, but I mean it. If you feel that gut feeling deep down that you just can’t shake, whether it be about a person or a job or a change you’re trying to make in your life, chances are you should listen to your intuition. Trust it. No matter how many people tell you the opposite, believe in what you know to be true.