2017 felt like a constant battle. I dealt with a lot of (pointless) drama during my last semester of college, I graduated, I moved (twice), and I started a new job; looking back, it really wasn’t all that bad. This was a year of growing up and discovering a lot about myself in the process. Check out what I learned this year and what knowledge I plan to take with me into 2018 to make it my best year yet.
1. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy, but it’s essential to moving forward.
I’ve been hurt a lot in my life. By people that know it and people that don’t. I’m sure we all have. But it’s what we do with that hurt that sets us apart from everyone around us. You’ve probably heard the line, “Let it make you better, not bitter,” and I’ve tried to embody that whenever life throws lemons my way. Shit is going to happen — it happens to everyone — I’ve decided to let it make me a stronger person. I think the biggest way to grow and to let life make me (and you) stronger is to learn to forgive — myself and others. Forgiveness is hard. It is so, so hard especially when someone has hurt you to the bone. But you have to do it (or you should try) — if not for them, for yourself. It was one of the biggest lessons I learned this year with a handful of people in my life. People make mistakes, they don’t understand how their actions can affect someone else so deeply, and in those times, it’s important to forgive. I’m aware that there is a thin line between forgiving someone when they truly deserve it and letting them take advantage of you, but I still say to forgive because holding on to hatred and negativity doesn’t do you any good — it gives them the power to control your feelings. Just as important as forgiving other is to forgive yourself. You are going to make mistakes. You are human. It’s okay. Forgive, forgive, forgive.
2. Say YES. Don’t limit yourself.
There is so much to do in life before our short time on this Earth is over, so why not say yes to as much as possible? I know I’ve probably mentioned this TOO many times on this blog already, but I’ve just got to say it one more time for the people in the back. Don’t let fear hold you back from doing things you’ve dreamed of doing your entire life. Say yes when friends ask you to go out for drinks thirty minutes before the end of the work day — the gym can wait. Say yes to going on a date with a guy you met online — just make sure you meet him somewhere public. Say yes to a last minute trip to visit your best friend at the beach — you’ll remember your late night cuddle sessions far more than the amount of money you spent on a plane ticket. This year I challenged myself to saying yes a lot more than any other year. I struggle to deviate from my routine — I am an intense creature of habit. But, sometimes it’s more important to walk off the beaten path and make a memory or two than to hit the gym five days in a row. While it’s true that sometimes I wish I had stayed in bed reading a good book rather than going out with friends, I usually found myself having an adventure, creating memories that will last me a lifetime.
3. Ask for what you want, and go after your goals without apology.
For so long I was scared to tell people what I wanted — I was scared to let others in on my dreams. Why? Because they would think I’m silly? Unable to attain my goals? Lacking the skill or talent? Then I truly don’t need them in my life. If someone is going to laugh at me for having a dream, I’ve realized they are simply insecure about their own place in this world. So many people I know or admire are unapologetic about pursuing what they want out of life — why not me? This extends to huge dreams like working to be a book agent in London or to tiny wishes like wanting a scoop of ice cream after dinner. My desires are no less important than anyone else’s, and neither are yours. In 2018, I dare you to ask for what you want — out of people and life— and see what happens.
4. Inform yourself about things that matter.
I think we can all (mostly) agree that 2017 was the year to learn and grow. Maybe it’s my age demographic, or maybe it’s because I’m making a conscious choice to be informed about what is going on around me, but I feel like, as a country, we have become much more proactive and knowledgable about what is going on in our surroundings, this year specifically — think tax reform, human rights movements, and political agendas. As I get older and other people’s decisions start affecting my life, I feel it’s paramount to educate myself about what the heck is going on. I was heavily influenced by my parents when I was growing up, and then my peers when I was in college, but now it’s up to me. Read the news. Check Twitter (it really is a marvelous source for news). Sign up for theSkimm. Being able to engage in stimulating conversations and actually being able to understand why certain news items matter is going to build you into a more interesting and intelligent person.
5. Surround yourself with important people, but you will always be your own best friend.
I’ve been in the real world for about 6 months now, and I’ve realized how important it is to surround myself with the best people — not a lot of people — but the ones that have my best interest in mind and truly care about me (and I them in return, of course). While I have come to understand how important it is to have a core group of amazing, supportive friends, I’ve also found that I am my own best friend. I have been spending A LOT of time by myself (it’s natural, I promise), and if I didn’t like myself, this would be torture. I’ve had a lot of time to work on who I am as a person and become a better version of myself in this time — and I’m thrilled for that. At the end of the day, if you don’t believe in yourself, if you don’t push yourself to be the best person you can be, no one else can. Learn to love who you are. Accept what you can’t change and work on improving what you can everyday. In the end, the person you spend the most time with is yourself, so enjoy it!
6. You’re going to question your choices, and that’s okay.
You’re also going to question your worth, your power, and your abilities from time to time, and that’s okay too. Forgive yourself for those moments of doubt. Tomorrow is a new day, and wake up to it like it is. Don’t let yesterday’s doubts cloud what awaits you in a new day. We can never be absolutely sure of the actions that we choose to make. Did I accept the right job? Did I move to the right place? Should I really have forgiven him (see #1)? Was 25 cookies too many cookies? You really will never know (except about the cookies, even I say that’s too many). But that’s okay. You need to keep making choices because living in indecision is unacceptable (in my opinion). You can’t move forward if you’re too frightened of making the wrong choices. You will never know what could have been, but at least this way, you know what is.
7. Sometimes it really isn’t about you — it’s about them.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned this year is that not everything is about me. I don’t say this in a “the world doesn’t revolve around you” sort of way but more in a “you can’t control people’s actions and perceptions of you” sort of way. Sometimes the way people react isn’t about you or me or anybody besides themselves — it’s about what they need in life. I’ve learned this countless times throughout the year when someone has hurt me, or when someone has given me advice I never asked for, and when I have unconsciously hurt someone myself. If someone is reacting to something or treating you a certain way, before you blame yourself, take a step back and reflect on who they are as a person — Are they insecure in their own actions? Are they going through a tough time? So many factors could be influencing their perceptions and actions that you have no knowledge of — so it really really could just be them. Determine what you can control, and let the rest happen as it may.
So there you have it! 2017 was a year of immense growth and opportunity. I accomplished a lot, and I learned a whole lot more. Let me know what lessons you’ll be taking into 2018 with you in the comments below!