As the end of this year approaches, I find myself looking back at everything 2016 has been for me as well as for the rest of the world. There are countless humorous memes on Twitter depicting 2016 as the worst year people have had in ages. Apparently, everything that could have gone wrong for many Twitter users, did go wrong, and as much as I feel for every one of those people, I have to disagree with them. I have most certainly had my fair share of mishaps this year. My life has done a complete 180 just in the past few months let alone the entire year, but as I came home from school this year. I found myself smiling and thinking of how incredibly BLESSED I am as I endured the long ride home. Despite the craziness 2016 has been, I have emerged with a family I hold near and dear to my heart, new friends, as well as old, that support me no matter what, a group of strong, independent sisters who inspire me every day, an amazing big who loves me for all my crazy, an absolutely INCREDIBLE education at a school I love, a plethora of amazing opportunities, a newfound love for myself, and an optimistic outlook on life. So with that being said, here is what the craziness that has been 2016 has taught me.
1. Set your priorities straight
I spent a great portion of this year neglecting those who truly meant the most to me. I blamed much of it on my bad communication skills, but realistically, I put people first who never deserved that place in my life. I failed to keep in touch with some of my best friends, and I ditched my family on multiple occasions. I got so caught up in my own personal affairs that I let go of the people that meant the most to me, and I regret it every day. I have worked hard these past few months rebuilding those connections with friends and spending a lot of quality time with my siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. At the end of the day, these are the people who deserve to be put first in my life. These people are my priority, and that will never change.
2. Make yourself one of those priorities
For the longest time, I spent no time worrying about the standards to which I held myself. I did not strive to the greatness I could’ve achieved in classes, I didn’t jump at opportunities unless they were handed to me, I failed to keep myself in shape physically, and I failed to realize the love I deserve, from both myself and others. I let people walk all over me, and I also walked all over myself. I put myself on the back burner, and that was a problem. This fall, it clicked with me that I deserve so much more than I had been settling for, and I started to push myself rather than settling for “good enough.” I started working harder in my classes, I began getting more involved on campus, I started searching for a summer internship, I signed up for a May term class in the Dominican Republic, I picked up a second major, I started going to the gym every day, and I began to fall in love with myself. I gained confidence I never knew I had, and now I carry myself highly. I set my standards high, and I spend every day striving to achieve those. Most importantly, I learned that I myself need to be included on my list of priorities, because I am DONE treating myself like an afterthought.
3. Count your blessings
I took a lot of the great things in my life for granted before this year. I took my family for granted, I took my friends for granted, I took my education for granted, and I took the life I was given for granted. I was given a roof over my head, a loving, amazing, crazy family, a strong and supportive group of friends, and many, many other amazing things. I am so incredibly blessed. So instead of thinking about everything I don’t have, I have spent these past few months giving thanks for the blessings I have been given in life, and man has it changed my view on the world.
4. With that being said, find the positive in every situation
Even the negative ones. I’ve gone through things I never would’ve never even imagined going through last year. Despite that, my losses and traumatic experiences have taught me to find the beauty in every single situation. If I hadn’t gone through a lot of the things I went through, I would never have met some of my closest friends, I never would have found such an amazing group of sisters, and I never would have truly found myself and realized my own strength and resilience. I spent a lot of my life being a pessimist, and it did nothing for me but stress me out and hold me back. Now, I approach every situation with positivity and confidence. The worst possible scenario always sits in the back of my mind, but the best possible outcome now occupies the front.
5. And finally, say yes
Say yes to opportunity. Say yes to change. Say yes to growth. Say yes to crazy shenanigans. Say yes to facing your greatest fears. Say yes to baking cookies at 2 A.M. Say yes to eating those French fries, because you deserve it. Spend your life saying yes and you will grow in more ways than you can possibly imagine. I sure did.