An Early Goodbye to 2016

December 11th 2016

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It is the end of another year and time to reflect on what I have learned in the past (almost) 365 days.

I really don’t think many people will be looking back at 2016 with fond memories because it seems as though it has been a rough year all around. However, in the darkness came many opportunities to discover new things about life and the world around me. So, without any further introduction, here is what I have learned in 2016:

  1. Spending time alone is healthy- At the start of this year I joined a yoga studio completely by myself. For starters, this is something completely out of character for me considering I am someone who is very shy and often feels uneasy about doing things alone. However, joining this studio alone not only helped me get alone time with myself for a bit each day, it also encouraged me to take more opportunities to be alone off my mat. I began taking myself shopping to the mall, out to lunch, to the beach, and so on. Being able to go places alone and feel unembarrassed and unapologetic contributed to my ability to learn about myself.
  2. Finding your passion overall enriches your life- I hate to do two lessons I learned from yoga in a row, but yoga was a large part of my 2016. Discovering yoga on a deeper, more committed level (I have been doing yoga for about 4 years but this is the first year I am doing it daily) did a lot for me as a person on and off my mat. Yoga taught me how to control my anxiety (to an extent) and how to channel my energy into positivity instead of negativity.  Discovering my passion also helped strengthen my sense of self.
  3. There is a difference between alone and lonely- Although I am currently in a relationship, I spent a lot of this year feeling apathetic towards the whole idea of relationships and emotional attachment. I spent a lot of time thinking I was broken for being alone but not desiring a companion. It wasn’t until I got into my relationship that I realized that I was completely fine alone and the healthiest thing for me at that time was to be alone. Being single isn’t a disease you need to cure yourself of.
  4. Someone doesn’t have to wrong you for you to let them go- I think this is a lesson I am still learning. A friendship doesn’t need to end in a heated argument for it to be over.  Sometimes people just drift apart and it isn’t anything about the other person not being good enough or doing something wrong. Life just takes people different directions and we need to leave certain people behind in order to continue our journey.
  5. A person is not always conscious of how they treat people- Some people can’t help the way they are. There are things we all do as humans that we don’t like that we do, but at the time we don’t see ourselves doing them. That is why we have to be forgiving. That girl who blew you off that one time? She has a habit of doing what is most convenient to her. That guy who told you he cared then walked away? He has a tendency to push away emotional attachment, even if it would make him happy. We, as humans, have habits and tendencies we can’t control and sometimes they come across worse than we intend.
  6. You don’t need to be in control all the time- Not everything in life needs a label and not everything in life needs to make sense right away. We take the beauty out of what something could be by trying to label what it “is”. We also take the fun out of things by trying to make them perfect.
  7. The future isn’t written yet- I used to spend so much time thinking that my future was set in stone and panicking that what I wanted would never work out because it hasn’t in the past. I started to realize that some things aren’t meant to work out the first time and that sometimes you need to learn lessons before things you want can come into your life. Also, if you don’t want something to be in your future, don’t let it into your future. It is as simple as that. Don’t live in fear that you will be stuck with a circumstance that you have full control over.
  8. Appreciate those who take the time to appreciate you- This can be looked at in two ways: One being, appreciate those who have always been there because they are the people who truly value you. Two being, stop trying to fit in with people who don’t appreciate you to the fullest. You can be your best and still not be good enough for the wrong people.
  9. Don’t hate on people for experimenting and learning- There is nothing wrong with trying new things. It doesn’t matter who you are, it is never too late to try something new. If you see a 13 year old girl wearing “too much makeup”, let her. She is allowed to experiment and try new things. It is a part of growing up and isn’t hurting anyone. If you see an overweight person struggling at something at the gym, don’t mock them, encourage them. They are trying to improve their quality of life, don’t discourage them.
  10. Strive for progress, not perfection- You won’t wake up with a six pack from going to the gym once. You won’t get an A in every class if you study for 10 minutes. You can’t expect immediate results at the beginning of your journey and you can’t only be satisfied by perfection. You need to learn the value of progress. I realized this year that I would get incredibly discouraged if I didn’t just “get” something. Whether it be singing a particular song or doing the full extension of a hard yoga pose, I would put myself down for not immediately nailing it. I have started to realize as time has gone on, that I don’t need to be perfect to be proud of how far I’ve come.
  11. People only show you the side of them they want you to see- I’ve heard this said to me a few times before and I have even passed the advice onto people I care about, however I feel like this is the first year I actually took this warning into consideration. At first I didn’t think much of it because I’ve always viewed myself to be quite observant, but when I changed my perspective and turned the scenario on myself, I realized that I hide parts of myself I don’t want people to see and I control how much I let someone know about me. If I do it, there is no saying how many other people are and how much they are hiding. Be cautious of who you trust and how much you think you know someone.
  12. Reading more really does expand your mind- Okay so this is something I NEVER took seriously when my mom would say it. My mom is a library aid in an elementary school so I always thought she was just doing her job when she would push me to read. However, I took it upon myself to dive into reading a bit more and realized how much it has actually helped me. I have improved my reading aloud and my speed of reading immensely. My ability to spell and form creative sentences creatively has also improved. Most importantly, I feel reading has really opened me up to new perspectives. Reading was something I used to resent, but now I feel excited every time I read a new book and when I finish a powerful story.
  13. Your major shouldn’t limit what you try to learn- For a long time I always felt that I wasn’t allowed to do things that didn’t have to do with marketing because I was a marketing major. Things like performing in theatre and playing music and making art and studying English literature seemed “off limits” to me. What I started to realize is that my major is nothing but a bunch of classes and a title on a sheet of paper. It doesn’t change it. It doesn’t tell me I can’t love being creative. It doesn’t dictate how I live my life. If you’re a chemistry major, don’t be ashamed to take a ceramics class. If you’re a film major, don’t be afraid to take a law course. If it interests you, learn it. Opening yourself up to learning anything and everything is so rewarding.
  14. You can learn from someone no matter how old they are- Never judge someone by their age. Some of the wisest people I have ever seen have been below the age of 16 or above the age of 70. Wisdom has not age restrictions. Listen to people around you. Listen to those who are discovering the world for the first time and those who have been around to see what the world has become for longer than you have even been alive. As I’ve said before, being open to different perspectives can make your world so much more alive.
  15. Getting a good night sleep is SO important- This seems super obvious and some people think they don’t need that much sleep to function, but sleep is really valuable. I used to be a non-believer in the whole “getting your 8 hours in”. So this year I challenged myself to try to get at least 7+ hours of sleep whenever it was possible and it has really worked wonders. I have gotten sick way less and my skin is way healthier. Along with getting more sleep, I have also started waking up earlier and at more consistent times every day. That accompanied with the extra sleep has helped to make me more productive and more energized throughout my day.
  16. Misery shouldn’t be competitive- This is something that has really baffled me for a while but it took me until this year to put it into words. Why do we compete for who has it the worst? Why can’t we just be grateful the our situation isn’t as bad as someone else’s? What are we so afraid of? The thing that baffles me more is that we compete for misery but then hop on social media and pretend our lives are more perfect than everyone else’s. We simultaneously fight to have the best and worst life all at once. Next time someone is complaining about a negative in their life while you’re going through a rough patch, don’t compete. Instead, try to raise yourself above the negativity and inspire others to do the same.
  17. The world sucks enough, lift each other up- I see this problems in the female population A LOT. We, the women who claim we are fighting for equality of races and genders and sexual orientations, are the same women tearing each other down for everything we do. If a girl dresses in a more revealing fashion and she feel empowered, LET HER LIVE. If you come across an individual who’s interests you would consider “basic”, LEAVE HER ALONE AND LET HE DO WHAT MAKES HER HAPPY. If you see a woman who is overweight wearing tight clothing and learning to love herself, RAISE HER UP. We are all on a journey. You are not better than anyone else and you shouldn’t sit around and pretend you are. Support people for trying to be themselves. Let’s not raise a society where it feels unsafe to be who you are.
  18. Being in shape is the best feeling in the world, physically and emotionally- I am not going to sit here and pretend I have a six pack and that I can run five miles and not break a sweat because that definitely isn’t what I am trying to convey. I am fit in the sense that i wake up every morning and I go to yoga and I work my hardest and as a result, things have gotten easier for me. I have been able to run for longer, carry heavier loads,  climb stairs and not get winded, etc. Small changes, but big for me because I feel myself getting stronger and improving every day and I think it shows in terms of my confidence.
  19. Stop comparing your journey to someone else’s end result- Don’t look at someone with a high paying job when you’re at an entry level position and feel like a failure. Don’t look at someone with abs and muscles on your first day at the gym and get discouraged because you don’t look like that. I used to feel bad when I would see people in my yoga classes who could do things I couldn’t and I thought I would just be bad at yoga forever, but I realized we all start somewhere and we all have room to grow. If I compare myself to other people I will never be satisfied, but if I compare myself to my past self, I will always be proud.
  20. You ARE enough- Last, but not least, always remember that you are enough and that no one can take that away from you. Smile because you’re doing your best and learning and growing every day.

All I have to say is goodbye 2016, thanks for the lessons. I hope that 2017 has some exciting and good things in store for me.

Jess

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