Around the new year it's fun to not only plan for the year ahead and what you want to accomplish for your new year's resolutions, but also look back at the year and all the happened in it. I always love looking at friends' Snapchat stories and Instagram stories of what happened each month of the year for them, because so much can be lost or forgotten about in a given year until it resurfaces again as you look back. It's also nice to see if you accomplished all of your resolutions, what needs to change, and how far you have come in the year.
This year in particular I experienced a tremendous amount of personal growth. Some of my goals I accomplished with flying colors. Even some of the ones that I put on there just for fun, believing that they probably wouldn't come true since they were out of my control for the most part but I had just hoped would happen, were accomplished. Some I didn't get to that I am reapplying to my list for this year in the hopes that this time I can put my full focus on it. Overall, though, the thing that shocks me the most about the year 2019 is all that I have learned and how far I have come. Here are some lessons 2019 brought me that will carry with me for the rest of time.
1. A lot of the time - in fact, the majority of the time - when people react to you, there is something deeper that has been building up
Most people do not blow up out of nowhere. Sometimes it's related to something with you, and sometimes it isn't. For example, you might accidentally say something you thought was harmless and suddenly you're getting yelled at or they're crying. You might think they're being overly sensitive, but the majority of the time they either have had a bad day already with lots of things building up unrelated to you, or you hit an insecurity spot that they have with themselves or feel when it comes to you that hurts in a different way.
2. Which brings me to this: Be patient and kind with people.
Blowing up on people back has never helped the situation. I have never once seen someone solve a problem by yelling back at someone. This is the most difficult thing to do in practice, especially if you haven't learned lesson #3 in this list. Even then, however, it is difficult to take control of. A kind word extinguishes all flames.
3. How people act is not a reflection of you.
This is probably the single most important thing I have learned this year, so I will repeat it again. HOW PEOPLE ACT IS NOT A REFLECTION OF YOU. Someone treating you bad is not because you suck as a person, it's because they have an issue with themselves. Someone putting you down in front of others isn't because what they say is true, but because they want to feel better about themselves. Of course, you shouldn't take this as an excuse to act or be how you want. You still need to be considerate of people, and if you said something offensive be able to apologize. The point is you need to see the bigger picture instead of getting offended, and realize that most of the time it doesn't have to do with you or you sucking or anything like that. It has to do with the other person. The faster you realize that, the easier it is to remove yourself from the situation and look at it objectively so that you can respond in a patient, kind, respectful manner to resolve the situation quicker.
4. Find genuine people who do not put expectations on you.
That doesn't mean people who let you slack off and don't want anything good for you. That means find people who don't have extremely high and unrealistic expectations and who don't have extremely low expectations either. Find people who let you exist with zero expectations so you don't feel the pressure to perform constantly. In short, find people who love you with no strings attached. People who know you fully, the good and bad and ugly, and still love you no matter what, yet still want the best for you constantly. People who will offer their opinion, yet not expect their opinion to be the voice in your head. Who don't expect you to be perfect, without flaws, to never make a bad decision or a mistake. You will feel so much more comfortable going to people and listening to their advice when you don't feel a constant need to live up to expectations or a need to prove low expectations wrong.
5. Talk about things.
I have seen too many people who have gone through something hard or damaging and bottle it up, letting it eat them alive. There is no shame in talking about the hard stuff, whether it's with family or friends or even a therapist if you'd like an uninvolved third-party. Being able to work through things in your brain that maybe you don't quite understand fully helps you find closure with it and overcome all of the things that might have developed as baggage from what's hurting you. We all hurt. What happened is not your responsibility. It isn't on you and is not a reflection of you. Healing from it, however, is your responsibility. On the flip side, listen to people. Be there for people. Treat them how you want to be treated, and there is no way you can tell me that you wouldn't want to be listened to or heard.
6. Spend the money.
You are not promised today or tomorrow. You weren't promised yesterday. There is no point being stingy with funds because you're thinking about a future you might not even get. Of course, that IS NOT saying to be ridiculous with your money and go for broke every time you do something. However, in my experience, money comes back. Save up for events, set money aside, be smart with money, but do not hold on to it with a death grip. Money is material and fleeting. Experiences, adventures, and relationships are not. Invest in it.
7. Do it.
Go out on a limb. Talk to a stranger. Be spontaneous. Try something new. Try something that scares you. Crush your resolutions. Start a business. Make a YouTube. Do not let the fear of failure, or judgment, or any fear in general, stop you from doing things. Far more times I have regretted letting my insecurity or fear get in the way of me doing something. I would rather have done it and wish I hadn't but still known what the experience was like than not do it and always wonder how it would have turned out. It eats us alive to not know things. It's human nature to despise not having the answers to everything. In some ways, we won't really get answers because it's out of our control. In this situation, though, it's all in your control. DO THE THING. DREAM BIG. Nothing is impossible unless you let it be.
8. Worry about what you can control.
You can't control the weather. You can't control when you die. You can't control if your significant other wakes up one day and doesn't love you anymore. But you know what? You can control yourself. You can control what you wear that day. You can control what legacy you will leave behind the day you die and how people will remember you. You can control not spending hours and days worrying about whether or not they will leave you. It isn't worth your sanity to constantly be worrying about it, because worrying about it won't stop it if it does happen. Give people enough rope to hang themselves with. You will feel much better by not letting someone else determine how your day goes. Going off that, don't let someone tell you how your day will go. If your significant other or friend says not to do something, invite them along to the event instead. It isn't worth you missing out on an experience, because you might look back and wish you had done it if for some reason something happens to end the relationship. Again, control what you can.
9. Be the bold one.
Everyone wants to be wanted. Everyone wants to be seen in a crowd. Everyone wants to be sought out. Be the person who asks someone on a date. Be the person who reaches out for friendship. Be the bold one. You'd be surprised at how many people will respond in a positive way. And if they respond negatively, guess what? Refer to #3 again. It is not a reflection on you as a person or means you suck at all. Honestly, it probably doesn't have anything to do with you at all.
10. People are different and that should be CELEBRATED.
There are different political views. There are different sexualities. There are different races. There are different opinions. There are different EVERYTHING. Not everyone has to agree with you and you don't have to agree with everyone. The beauty of the world is how different we all are. It would honestly suck for everyone to be exactly the same, with the same opinions and same look and the same thoughts. There is absolutely no reason to argue over it. Everyone has different experiences, lessons, and qualities that can undoubtedly feed into something much bigger and brighter. One person's idea might work more efficiently than yours, and that's okay. No one is saying your idea is a bad one at all and refer to #3 again – choosing one idea over yours isn't a reflection of you. You have original thoughts and ideas and qualities that are more efficient than theirs in other areas as well. Everyone has something to bring to the table. The minute we stop arguing with others, trying to push our points and agendas instead of seeing the bigger picture is the minute things will start to go right. Sometimes people have good points that you're allowed to agree with. You aren't right on everything. You don't have to agree with every single thing that others might think you should if you consider yourself with a certain political affiliation, for example. Just be a good person. You don't have to agree or be best friends, but you should be kind and respectful.
LABELS ARE A COMPLETE DETRIMENT. Stop labeling yourself. Stop labeling others. Labels encourage stereotypes. Labels put people in boxes before they've even had a chance to speak. It helps minds think smaller. If I say this kid I know is a skater boy, or this girl I know is a VSCO girl, you already have a predetermined idea on how they look on the outside, as well as a predetermined idea on who they are as a person without even ever meeting them. You are already creating a judgment. Labels put you in one box and everyone else that isn't the same in another. It divides. It separates. Judge based on character and personal experience. Stop with the labels. Stop letting others' labels own you and put you in a box and letting you think that you can always only be the things associated with that label. Guess what? You can like country music and dress 90s grunge. You can enjoy art and be captain of the football team and still be straight. You can be top of the class while also being attractive. You can fix cars as a girl and still enjoy getting your nails done. Do what you want because you want to do it and pay zero attention to what a dumb stereotype or what other people think. This world has too much to explore and offer to let others' small ideas cage you in. What a shame it would be to not live up to your full potential, to not do the things that make you happy just because they make you happy and instead just because they're trendy or your label told you to, to not do something and wish you would have, or to miss out on something you could cherish or become extremely good at. You choose what you are and what you do. Don't let an inaccurate label determine it for you, and don't let it divide you from people who could turn out to be some of the best, kindest, most caring, wonderful people you have met to date.
You are not less because you are not interested in the same thing someone else is. One thing that always blew my mind was how ready guys can be to belittle girls for not knowing much about cars and having guys do that work for them (or for guys, girls belittling them about something that they don't know much about). There are girls out there who love cars and can fix them up in seconds the same way, or even better, than a guy can. The girl who brings her car into the shop to have an oil change instead of doing it herself is not less than you are because she doesn't know how to do it and you do, so don't treat her that way. That is where your interest lies as a guy, which is perfectly okay and good for you for having that skill. People would honestly commend you for that skill if you weren't degrading towards those who didn't have it. I guarantee that she is better than you at something else that she finds interest in as well. She doesn't have an interest in cars, so she isn't going to take the time to learn about it. That isn't bad on her, that isn't bad on the girl who does take an interest in cars, that isn't bad on the guy who doesn't take an interest in cars, and that isn't bad on the guy who does take an interest in cars. Instead of belittling people with different skill sets than you, embrace them. Acknowledge that there is an extremely high chance they are better at you than something else that doesn't involve cars and they could teach you something you would want to know. Acknowledge that there is an extremely high chance that you also could teach them something back about cars or whatever else. Humble yourselves. It doesn't have to be a competition. It should be a celebration.
11. Which brings me to this: Find those who are better than you.
There is going to be someone more skilled than you at make-up, or football, or socializing, or style, or math, or whatever. That does not mean YOU suck (#3 AGAIN) and that YOU should give up because someone has more experience in a field than you do. In fact, again, you probably are better at something than they are. YOU can become that experienced. YOU can one day be the best there is. YOU aren't going to get there by feeling sorry for yourself that you aren't already the best the minute you find interest in something. The joy in life is learning. You can learn from someone else just as much as they can learn from you. If you want a skill, go learn it. In a group of 10 people, there are going to be 9 that are going to tell you that it isn't possible, that it didn't work for them, that you should give up and not bother trying, and whatever else. You want to find the 1 person who did it, who made it happen, and who knows how to accomplish it, then learn from them. If you go in a library, there are going to be a plethora of books on how to do something and zero on how to fail at it. Everyone knows how to fail. Go find people who know how to succeed and learn from them.
I hope that one of your resolutions this year, other than going to the gym, is just to learn. I hope you learn lessons that make everything that felt scary and unsure and like it was your fault before feel more at ease in your heart and mind and make sense. I hope you learn what it is that makes you feel most loved and how to make those around you feel the most loved. I hope you learn what makes you, you and what sets your soul on fire. I hope you learn how other people think and how to connect with them on more than just a surface level to make them feel seen in a way you've always wanted. I hope you learn to value every individual difference that you run into with someone else and celebrate the things that make you unique, as well as the things that make them unique. I hope you learn to agree to disagree and convey your thoughts and opinions in a way that isn't hurtful or degrading to someone else's. I hope you surround yourself with people who cherish you in all these same ways. I hope you learn a thousand new things, master as many of them as you so please, and that you choose to make yourself better despite what anyone else may say. I hope you learn where other people stop and where you begin instead of blending the line. I hope you spend the money and worry a little bit less than before. I hope you learn to live out of fearlessness instead of fear. I hope you learn to talk and talk and talk and talk. I hope you learn more and see more than ever this year. Finally, I hope that one of your resolutions is to become a little bit wiser than the year before, because knowledge is power and learning is timeless.