2016 was a wild year. For myself, it was my first year of College, which has been engrossing and enlightening. This year was the year I made more time for myself, and I went on adventures more often. It was the year I think I found my self. I learned a lot of lessons this year, here are a few of them:
Independence is scary, but inevitable.
I did not think I was ready to jump into college right after high school, and maybe I was right, but I did it anyways. My friends that I grew up with in public school were all attending different schools then I, so I had to figure it out all by myself. The very thought of showing up to a class and not knowing a single person was frightening, but I had to do it. At some point in my life I was going to have to face something own my own, independently, and that time was here looking me in the face. I did it, and I learned about myself in the process.
You can’t control bad things, but you can control your reaction to it.
We actually touched on this in one of my courses in college. This is such an important lesson. Bad things happen. You can’t control it, but you can control how it effects you. Many times this year I had to sit back and just let things happen. I learned to just take life with a smile.
Speak less, listen more.
This year I learned to speak less often, and listen to others more. You can learn so much about a person if you give them your unabridged attention. When you listen well enough, you begin to hear the things they don’t say.
Some people leave your life for no good reason, and that’s okay.
The first year after high school is a colossal reality check. Some of the friends you make in high school are only your friend because it is convenient; you spend 5 days a week in the same facility, may as well be friendly. Once you don’t have a reason to see each other everyday anymore, these friends won’t make time for you anymore. Don’t waste your time making time for them. Be thankful for the memories those friends gave you and move on to new people. Most people that come into your life won’t be there forever.
Be creative, it’s therapeutic.
This year, I bought a sketch book and some pens, set pen to paper and just went with it. It seemed childish to me, to spend my free time doodling things that never really amounted to anything noteworthy, but it benefitted my mind, and it became a place for me to put down my thoughts in the form of a picture.
Go on adventures to find yourself.
In recent years, I spent a lot of time trying to gather my thoughts from the comfort of my own home. This year, I left the house more. Sometimes I would grab a friend and go for a drive, but a lot of the time I would go for a walk in the wilderness of find a spot to sit at the beach and read alone. It is healing to spend time amongst nature, and easier to take a deep breath. I learned a lot about myself while being on my own out there.
You can’t rely on another person for your own happiness.
People don’t take your sadness away, they just mask your it. Relying on a person to make you happy is dangerous, because most people aren’t going to be in your life forever, whether you like it or not. Don’t give a person the key to your happiness, keep it for yourself.
You can’t fix other other people’s pain, it is up to them to heal.
The last one leads nicely into this lesson: you can’t fix other people. I have spent way too much time trying to help pull other people out of the darkness, not realizing that I was just falling into the dark with them. Your mental health is just as important as another person’s health. Be there for them, but take care of yourself as well. If you helping another person is putting your health at risk, pull back.
Soul mates don’t come only in the form of a partner.
A soul mate is defined as “a person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.” This year I had the pleasure of meeting, without a doubt, one of my soul mates: my best friend. I can’t describe it other then, “once it happens, you know.” Cliche, I know, but I know this person was placed in my life for a reason.
Your mental health is more important than pleasing someone else.
I spent most of my life trying to make other people happy. My mother, my teachers, my friends, crushes, strangers even. This year I realized that making other people happy wasn’t making me happy, so I decided to start doing things for myself. I applied for a college course that I wanted to take, not what my mother wanted me to take. I spent my hard earned money on a trip that I wanted to take, not where my friends wanted me to go. I started going to parties because it made me happy, not worrying about what my parents or teachers thought. Try doing more things for yourself.
I am thankful for everything that happened to me in 2016, that helped me learn and will allow me to live a happy and healthy life in the years to come. I hope some of these lessons inspire you, as well.