Personally, 2018 was a year of growth and development. I relearned how to use my right leg (thanks to a brand new ACL), graduated from high school, was accepted into my dream program and university, and moved away from home and started living with seven other girls. As this year comes to a rapid close, it's time to reflect on the important milestones and their corresponding life lessons. Here are the five statements I plan on incorporating into my 2019, and I invite you to do the same.
1. Choose Kindness
I learned this lesson from my suitemate, Laura, earlier this semester, and I have incorporated its message into multiple articles. In a society that idolizes Twitter beef and clap backs, displaying kindness and compassion can be equated with weakness; however, responding to rudeness with unequivocal kindness requires a level of grace that can be difficult to achieve. Being giving and warm demonstrates a level of maturity that is extremely difficult to achieve; yet, the results are rewarding--after all, there is strength in being soft, and this distinction is recognized (and appreciated) by many.
2. Do More of What Makes You Happy
For years, I chased balance--gymnastics physically demands it, and my high school career was a consistent juggling act that was comprised of several sports, volunteering hours, and homework assignments. In this whirlwind of activity, I never had time to truly pursue the things that made me happy. This lifestyle left me constantly stressed and exhausted, which is no way to live. In 2019, I plan on making time to do the things that interest me; whether this "thing" is a SoulCycle class or a coffee date with a friend. I am, in short, starting to invest in my own happiness.
3. Trust Your Journey
As hard as I try, life cannot be perfectly laid out--things happen, schedules change, and plans fall through. I am a perfectionist, and I have always struggled with the concept of change. I enjoy structure and my five step plan to success; however, as 2018 has taught me, life does not conform to a specific diagram. As my favorite SoulCycle instructor, Maya Monza, has reiterated every class, everyone has their own unique journey. Things happen for a reason, and we may not see its purpose as an event happens; however, there is a meaning behind their existence. Gradually, I have been focusing on the items that fall within my control and leaving the unknown to be exactly that, unknown.
4. Let Go of the Unnecessary
I dwell on things.
I worry--a lot.
Slowly but surely, I am learning to let go of the things that are beyond my control. If someone, for instance, does something that is extremely irritating? Acknowledge that annoying feeling, but also remember that you cannot control the way that someone else acts. Constantly thinking about these small annoyances pile up quickly. A small frustration can morph into a dark aura that eventually permeates your mood and disposition.
When I find myself growing angry at the things that are (truly) beyond my control, I recognize my feelings before reminding myself that the only thing I can fix is the way that I process these nuances. Try distancing yourself from the issue, and find a way to channel your frustrations into a productive activity. Jot down a journal entry, go on a run, or blast your favorite music; however, do not sit and let your irritation fester.
Remember: there are things that you cannot change, so do not let these things cause you additional stress or anxiety. There are many other items that are worth focusing that energy on.
5. Embrace Vulnerability
This year, I published an article on my years as a competitive gymnast, and writing it was immeasurably difficult. Gymnastics was both a gift and a burden; the sport itself gave me lifelong friends and taught me a plethora of skills. Yet, these positives came with unspeakable negatives. Since I left the sport in 2017, I internalized most of my experiences. Any conversation regarding that gym were hushed whispers exchanged between old teammates and new coaches. I could not find a way to explain the way my voice was diminished, and I could not comprehend the devices that manipulated my concept of self-worth.
I remember reading an article written by an ex-gymnast very similar to myself--we were both placed on the elite track, but following a plethora of injuries, decided to set our sights on college gymnastics. This survivor's story provided me with a voice to tell my own experiences. I was scared of the reaction my article would elicit; however, I was met with open arms and encouragement. My inbox was filled with messages from my previous teammates and team parents citing pride, love, support, and, for some, a newfound inspiration to tell their own stories.