2018 made news for being such a dynamic and controversial year. For me personally, it was a year that taught me many things about myself.
Hard work is important.
Particularly this past semester, I had a lot of work to do academically. With three classes project-heavy, I was always working on something here or there. On top of this, I had two part-time jobs, as well as writing for the Breeze, a James Madison University newspaper. All of this work taught me the importance of working hard because the benefits are plentiful.
Live in the present.
This is something that I struggled with tremendously, as I have a tendency to ruminate on the past. But for my own personal health and growth, learning to live in the present instead of worrying about the future and fixating on the past was an important lesson I learned.
Don't care about what others think.
I have always been rather self-conscious and worried about what others think, but this year I gained steps in not doing that. Other people's opinions are not a reflection of who you are, and popularity is not what makes a good life.
Cut back on social media.
This past semester, I really worked on not posting my life on social media and, instead, enjoying the present for what it is. I think this has overall made me much happier, as living in the moment is far more important than recording every aspect of my life to show off to people who I don't even talk to.
This past semester was the first time I ever lived in an off-campus apartment. Apartment living has taught me a lot about independence, as I have had to figure out groceries, cooking, rent, etc. It has helped me take steps into becoming an adult more than on-campus living has by far.
Let go of the past.
Everyone has their personal demons and past traumas. It was hard, but I finally came to the conclusion that letting go of the past is far healthier than clinging to it or grudges. It doesn't help the healing process and living in the past is detrimental to mental and emotional health.
Realize that you only have control of yourself.
Wanting to have complete control of your life is normal. But this year, I realized that I can't control other people and their actions and behaviors. The only person I can control is myself, and therefore how I react and behave in situations and in response.
Volunteer to where it is rewarding.
This past semester I volunteered with Helping Hands, working with special needs children at a high school. It was a highly rewarding experience, as I learned a great deal, both emotionally and socially. It taught me the value of getting involved with the community and the impact it can have on people's lives.
Take a leap.
Regret is a strong emotion, and I learned in 2018 to take risks, to put myself out there. Instead of always paying on the safe side, it's sometimes good to take a risk, because then I won't have regrets years later.
School is important, but so is social life.
School and academics are very important, but just as equally, if not more important, is social life. It's important to spend time with friends and socialize, instead of spending all my time studying. There needs to be a balance.
People aren't perfect.
Oftentimes we idolize and idealize people, but what I came to discover this year is that people aren't perfect. This is OK — no one is perfect, and to expect that of people is unfair and unrealistic.
Don't take people - or things - for granted.
I came to learn that people aren't disposable, that one shouldn't take their friends, family, etc. for granted. Therefore, it's important to cherish the people you care about, as well as be grateful for all the blessings in your life.
2018 was a tremendous year of self-discovery, personal growth, and learning. It taught me many important life lessons that I hope to carry on into the future.