It’s hard to believe that 2016 is already coming to an end…it seems as if 2016 just arrived. Yet, when I look back I can see that this past year was filled full with magnificent memories, difficult decisions, exciting experiences and, of course, lessons learned. I want to focus on these lessons because a) I want to use them to help create my resolutions to grow next year and b) I think everyone can apply these things I’ve learned to their lives and future goals. Maybe you’ve learned similar things or perhaps these are new, eye-opening concepts–either way, I hope that they do you as much good as learning them has done me!
- Spending time alone is okay
Spending time by yourself, away from others, can actually help you get to know and understand yourself, find new hobbies and see what things you like. First semester of freshman year, I was so worried about spending a Friday night alone or eating by myself in the dining hall for fear I would look like a “loser”. Second semester (spring 2016), I came to find that some of my favorite nights would be taking a break from studying and enjoying a book while I ate alone in the dining hall or cuddling up on the couch to watch my favorite movie. It wasn’t that I was antisocial–I certainly still enjoyed hanging out with people–I just found some alone time was relaxing and enjoyable for myself. Spending time alone does not make you a loser or weird nor does it mean there is something wrong with you, so don’t be afraid to try it out!
2. Selfish vs. Self-Care
Another I thing I learned was the difference between being selfish and taking care of yourself (and no they are NOT the same thing). Being selfish entails you only focusing on you: your desires, your wants and what will bring you personal profit or pleasure. It means you consistently only think of your wants and needs. Self-care on the other hand, is honoring and nurturing your inner desires and needs, in order to fulfill your potential, which benefits ourselves and those around us too. I learned that sometimes that means putting ourselves ahead of others so that once we are taken care of, we are better able to serve, love and help others. I no longer feel guilty for taking care of myself when necessary because if I cannot and do not help myself, then who can I help?
3. To be okay with my decisions
2016 came with some tough choices that I had to make. To be honest, I did, to some degree, regret some and at other times I didn’t at all. But what I learned was not to dwell in the what-ifs and instead, move on with the decision that I made. I couldn’t go back and change what I had done, so it didn’t make sense to continue living in the unchangeable past. Although much easier said than done (and something I am hoping I will get better at in 2017), it is important to come to terms with the decision you made and make the best out of it. Whether you regret it or not, it’s the path you chose; so, go out there, learn from the choice you made and live in the present fully embracing, and being okay with, the decisions you have made. After all, they’re what you got you here today.
4. You have to leave some people behind
This isn’t meant to be cynical or an excuse to be rude and suddenly “drop” people. This is meant in a way to keep healthy relationships in your life. I have learned that some friends and I have just gone our separate ways, through no fault of our own, and that things just aren’t the same. That’s okay! In life, we are constantly maturing, growing and heading down the path that we think is best, and sometimes, people (friends, boyfriends, classmates, colleagues, etc.) aren’t heading in that same direction. Sometimes, you have to say it’s been great and fun, but I need to move on ahead. While this may be hard, you don’t want to spend your time and energy on relationships that don’t mean the same as they once did and aren’t helping you grow. Now, this doesn’t mean that you give up and don’t try to mend a broken relationship or an argument. What this means is this: evaluate the people in your life and the different relationships with them and determine if they are really benefiting you, supporting you and helping you grow to where you want to be. And if the answer is no, know that it’s okay to leave people behind this year and find your group where you belong.
5. It’s okay to show emotions
For those of you who know me, you know that the one thing I hate to do is show emotion, especially sadness/crying. I am the person who refuses to cry and gets upset when I do so in front of others–even at a funeral or memorial service. I used to think it made me look “weak” to show emotions, although, somehow I never saw others as weak for crying or other such things…just myself. Just goes to show how much harder we can be on ourselves. Now, I haven’t had a ton of bawling moments this year; however, I have had my times where a good cry is just what I needed. (Well that and a hot shower, yummy ice cream and movies in bed.) I’m still working on showing that I am upset and crying in front of others, but you know, baby steps. The important thing I have learned from this is that it is healthy and strong to show your emotions and to ask for help. It can bond people and relationships and really help you be happier in life when you can tell other people what’s going on and how you feel. Or at least,be honest with yourself about what you are feeling.
6. Find what you’re passionate about and go for it…no matter what!
The last thing I’ve learned is probably the most important to me, and it drives me every day. Finding a passion isn’t always quick or easy, but when you do find it and make a goal out of it, I’ve learned to take it and run, even if people close to me may not fully support it. For me, I’m passionate about lifting weights, building those strong muscles, and living a very healthy life. (Granted, I’m not always good at it and I hit my roadblocks like anyone else, but I’m still fueled by it!) In 2016, I would be worried about what others thought about my workout in the gym or whether I would get weird looks or talked about when I said no to eating out or dessert because I was aiming to eat clean. Heck, just last week my dad rolled his eyes and in a way “made fun” of me for forgoing bacon and pancakes for healthy protein waffles, eggs and fruit. I’ve learned to not care. Of course, my family means everything to me and I want their support; however, my passion fuels my fire and I’m going to continue working towards my goal, no matter what. As long as you are not doing anything illegal or something that brings harm to you or others, and are passionate and enjoying what you are doing, then keep doing it. It doesn’t matter what your family or friends, or strangers think because ultimately it is all about what drives you, what makes you come alive and strive to improve. Life is too short to worry what others think of you, instead use your time to do exactly what makes you happy!