Categories
life Self Love and Personal Growth

Obligatory End of the Year Post

Time is an illusion, but the start of a new year can be symbolic if you choose to let it be. What better day to draft my last post of the year than on December 21st, the start of the Winter Solstice. This time period can be thought of as the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. If you enjoy this sort of symbolism, it is a good time to reflect on the past year and set groundwork for the next one.

Ah, 2020. Where to even begin. It feels like the first year where everyone around the world was simultaneously forced to slow down, look around, and reset. Some countries fought this harder than others. 2020 in the United States was a mess for various reasons including Covid, Trump, and the presidential election. Many admirable people, both in and out of the limelight, that will have a lasting impact, have died. Everyday life for people changed in one way or another. This paradoxical year has both flown by and been the longest year, at least of my life. so far.

In 2020, we started a new decade. I achieved some of the goals, big and small, that I set for myself the previous year. I got promoted at my job. I finished my last college course and received my college diploma. I got pregnant and moved back to my hometown. I am lucky to have turned 23 and still be surviving a pandemic.

Reflecting on the year, a lot happened but it also feels like not much did at all. Some of the lessons from 2020 I have taken away are reminders from 2019. Some have been expanded upon. Here’s a few of them.

Be Thankful

If you don’t already, you should take more time to be thankful for what you have. I said the same thing in 2019. It’s something to be more conscious of. The parts of life that stress us tend to need our attention. Because of this, it is normal and easy to get caught up in the stressors of life. It is important, though, to actively recognize what we have going for us, especially this year, amidst so much tragedy. This does not mean our lives are perfect. This does not mean there are not problems that need fixing or uncontrollable situations that have or will knock us down. This is not promoting toxic positivity. It is just a reminder that chances are you or I have something someone else wishes for. It is a reminder not to take things for granted.

Toxic Positivity is Bad

Pretending like things are okay when they aren’t will leave you worse off than accepting you are upset. It is okay not to be positive all of the time. It is okay to say something is shitty if it is. Life is all about balance. Sometimes we just need to cry it out and dwell in our sadness. Sometimes we need to stew in our anger before we forgive, if we even decide to forgive. We feel what we feel and that’s human. (How we react may not be justifiable though.) Don’t force yourself to put on a show nor let anyone make you feel as though you’re complaining when you’re expressing how you feel.

Two Things Can Coexist

We are so used to viewing things in labels and boxes. Often times, concepts are explained or understood as this or that. An example that I grew up with is the idea that evolution and God are conflicting theories. Now some things innately have a line drawn in the sand. How can you be pro-life but believe in the death penalty? Those two ideas are conflicting since the death penalty takes away life.

However, I would argue that lots of concepts are not so easily conflicting. Covid spreading in the US can be the result of both government incompetence and human selfishness. If you believe in God, God could have been the designer of evolution. You can hate capitalism and still contribute to it. You can agree the political system needs to change and still vote. Etcetera, etcetera. Life is simple and complex, depending on how you look at it. Not everything is simple enough to be knocked into boxes when concepts can be a spectrum and/or situational and/or dependent on your own ethics and values. This is proved by the spectrum of sexuality, the ethics behind the trolley problem, and the age old question “Is it wrong to break into someone’s house for food? What if it’s to feed your starving family?”

Perspective Matters- One Size Does Not Fit All

I like to think there is the absolute truth and then there are the perspectives of the people involved. Sometimes, those perspectives line up with the truth. One person or both people can be completely off. Both can align with the truth to an extent. One (or both if they agree) can be completely right. We have a tendency to twist the words and situations of other people and project our own insecurities, experiences, and assumptions onto them. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we aren’t. Some of the time, our judgements do not matter.

Since two things can coexist, one size does not fit all. Perspective and intentions matter. “Money does not buy happiness” can mean that money won’t solve all your problems and instantly make you happy. At the same time, having money will mean no more of your concerns will come from a lack of money. Your current problems would be solved and you’d be happy. Your viewpoint and objectivity will determine which way you view the statement.

Say What You Need to Say

I am a big believer that it is important to get what you need to say off your chest. I feel like every year at least one post mentions communication. As I get older, I have come to see the importance of clear communication. I have learned to sit on my feelings and thoughts about a situation and communicate them if they continue to affect me. Whether it is a good or bad thing is subjective, but I always feel better after I say what it is I need to, whether positive or negative, whether it is received and received well or not. Whatever happens after that happens and it is important to be willing to accept and deal with the consequences of your words. If you’re not willing to, you shouldn’t say it.

Speaking up reinforces the idea that your feelings matter. It can clear up any confusion. It shows you parts of who the other party involved is. Just remember, other people’s feelings matter too. If they express discomfort with your words or tone, consider shifting your approach if you want to salvage the relationship.

People Come and Go

I used to be a pact person. I attached myself to people and, in doing so, subconsciously refused to be comfortable with and learn more about myself. In college, I went on a journey of self discovery and slowly grew out of the need to unhealthily attach myself to others. The mindset did have residual affects though.

It seems like a lesson I would’ve learned by now, but not everyone you encounter will or is meant to stay in your life forever. Social media makes it hard to forget that people come and go and that’s natural. Friendships begin, end, or become distant with time. Acquaintances and past coworkers move on with their lives, as do you, when the common denominator changes. In some ways, that is a blessing.

That’s not to say some relationships won’t be long or even lifelong. I’m still friends with people I met eleven years ago, in middle and high school. My dad is still friends with people he met in middle school. My mom still talks with her college friends often. I believe I have met and will continue to meet people for a reason, but not all of them are and will be meant to stay.

Boundaries are Necessary

Establishing healthy boundaries with people is a necessity. Knowing what lines you don’t want crossed and what lines not to cross can prevent a lot of arguments. It helps everyone involved feel comfortable and respected and be on the same page. Learn what your boundaries are. and then stick with them. Some of them form with time. Some are specific to certain people or situations. A boundary could be not lending any more money to a person who keeps asking. It could be not being available all the time. It could be not allowing someone to talk to or treat you a certain way. It could be ignoring work calls when you’re off the clock. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for making those boundaries. Don’t let anyone guilt you into allowing them to cross those boundaries. Don’t let them make you feel bad for enforcing those boundaries.

Anxiety Can Be Manageable

My anxiety became a little more constant at the end of the year with my unexpected pregnancy and all of its symptoms, Covid, the shutdown and decline of the hospitality industry (my major), and the bubble that comes with social distancing. With anxiety it can be second nature to have a spiral of thoughts that lead to a wave of fear and worry. I talked to a mental health coach, courtesy of my job benefits, and learned the root of where my anxiety comes from: the unknown of the future and not being or feeling in control.

She taught me to actively be aware of and change my thoughts when I felt overwhelmed. We discussed ways to cut off the spiraling thoughts and shift directions by literally doing something else instead. She helped me see that, like with concepts, with myself and my life, it doesn’t have to be this or that, all or nothing. You can start working on parts of a goal without finishing the whole thing in one sitting. Having a few setbacks doesn’t mean everything is going to shit. Your projects don’t have to be 100% perfect to be shared, especially on the first go around.

Most importantly, she helped me realize I need to be more aware of and live in the present. Worrying about the future, though seemingly natural to me, does nothing. Doing so is based off of assumptions, not absolute truth or reality. It wastes time and energy and forces you to live through a situation twice if it happens to come to fruition. Accepting and releasing fear, accepting whatever comes, knowing I’m equipped enough to handle it, and believing everything will work out in my favor are all things I’ve been and will continue to work on.

We’re All Different

Not everyone will treat situations the same as you. Not everyone will treat you the way you would treat them. Releasing the expectation that people will handle things the same way you do makes life easier and will help prevent the feeling of betrayal.

Also, the fact that we’re all different plays into the subjectivity of situations. Some people are content to be in the situations they are in. Just because you say you wouldn’t be or want to be in that situation doesn’t mean a) you won’t ever be there and b) that person is unhappy in that situation. We all need to work on not projecting, assuming we’re always right, and being judgey of others.

Final Thoughts

A few more things to leave you with before I end the last post of 2020.

1. Clean up your social media, especially by unfollowing celebrities. It can help your mindset. Also set app limits.

2. Set goals for the new year. It’ll help you get an idea of how you want the year to go.

3. Celebrate your wins. It’s not bragging as long as you watch your tone. You really accomplished that, possibly in a pandemic. It’s worth celebrating.

4. People’s opinions really don’t matter. It can feel like they do but they only hold as much power as you give them. At the end of the day, it’s your life. If you’re cool with it and it’s not offensive or hurting anyone, including yourself, do and say what you want.

5. People can make it seem like you are different than you are to others. This is on a case by case basis and you have to be able to accurately hold yourself accountable to discern appropriately. Still, sometimes people will paint you in a different light than you actually are in. Sometimes, it’s to make themselves feel better about how they acted or treated you. Sometimes, there’s confusion on intentions and wires get crossed. Sometimes, they’re just assholes who want to feel like the victim because they can’t take responsibility for their actions.

6. What you accept is not always what you think you deserve. It can simply be what you want or are willing to handle. It can be a reflection of your subconscious thoughts and fears. After self-reflection, I realized I accepted less than I deserved because it was what I wanted at the time, even though I claimed, to others and myself, to want something more or something different. I knew I deserved and could have better. People would tell me that to reinforce it. But I didn’t actually want better or more. It served its purpose until it didn’t. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, that depends on your perspective. To me, it just is.

7. Allow yourself to be unproductive without feeling guilty. Productivity is a product of capitalism. You don’t always have to be doing something related to work, money, or your goals. Chill out and relax whenever you can and want to.

8. If you have any regrets, let them go and forgive yourself. You wouldn’t be who you are or where you are without all of your experiences. You might say that’s the point of your regret, but regret won’t change anything. Accept what’s happened, show yourself grace, and make movements forward.

A lot can change in a year. A lot has changed for me this year. Securing my college degree was the end of a cycle. Giving birth by the start of the new year will be another one. What are the chances life would align symbolically for me like that?

I recommend you reflect back on the year and take note of how you and your life has changed. I would avoid going into the new year with unrealistic or pessimistic expectations of how it’ll go. Don’t assume it’ll be as taxing as 2020 (don’t speak that into existence), but don’t think everything will return to the way it was (because it won’t). Set your desires for the year, and then just live day by day. You never know what’ll happen.

Categories
Food For Thought Self Love and Personal Growth

2020, we’re ready for you

2019 is coming to a close, which will mark the beginning of a new decade. I started the decade as a 13 year old middle schooler and I am ending it at 22 years old, with one class left in college. I, as we all, have experienced and learned so much that has impacted who I am today, and who I will be in the future. What better way to acknowledge this milestone than writing a blog post on the lessons I’ve learned from the year (and even the decade) in no particular order?

Lesson 1: Self-Love is the best love

The takeaway from this is to love yourself. Critique yourself because loving yourself is more than high self-esteem. Accept yourself because otherwise you end up diminishing yourself. Vow to improve yourself because you deserve to live the best life you can. Allow yourself to experience, grow, and change with life. Stop settling for less and allowing for what you do not deserve. Work hard to achieve your goals without overdoing it. Treat yourself with the same level of respect and love you would treat the people who are important in your life.

Lesson 2: Just Do It

 Some things are as simple as starting it. Reading one page can turn into a chapter. Doing one squat can turn into thirty. The only way to make a habit or even work towards your goals is to simply do what you can, no matter how small the first step may seem. 

Lesson 3: Change can be a good thing

I moved from California to Nevada to go to college. I was scared to move. I was nervous to get a new job and learn the ropes that came with working there. When I decided it was time for me to move on, I was unwilling to quit and find a new job even though I was no longer satisfied with what that job offered me. It seemed futile to have serious conversations with friends that I knew would lead to conflict, which tends to lead to change. I was nervous to join or try something new. My point is that change is scary. Deciding and accepting that something no longer benefits you is difficult. Going from something familiar to something unfamiliar can seem like a waste. It might make you wonder why change what is not broken. However, every change I have made in my life has improved me for the better, even if at the time it does not seem like it. You cannot grow if you stick to what you know. And if in the past year, (especially in the past ten years, you cannot say that you have changed or have made some sort of change in your life, it is time for you to self reflect and take some risks.

Lesson 4: Pick your battles and learn to walk away

Some things are worth fighting for. Some things are not. It is important to learn the difference between what is and what isn’t important in order to save yourself time and energy. Not everything you believe needs to be said out loud. Not every incorrect way of another needs to be corrected by you. Sometimes it is better to smile and keep it moving to protect your own peace.

Lesson 5: Honest communication is key

Communication is the most important lesson that I have learned. I used to be okay with getting walked  over if it meant I did not have to admit how it hurt. I used to let things go without realizing it still had an affect on my soul. I was under the impression that somehow, someone would know what I was thinking or what I felt, even if I failed to open my mouth. Communication is just as much talking as it is listening. Remember, no one knows what you don’t say. Communication can clear up misunderstandings and lead to a better understanding between both parties. Communicating the same point over and over again is redundant. If nothing changes after you communicate, then it is time to walk away from the situation. 

Lesson 6: It’s okay to be vulnerable

Being vulnerable is scary. It’s terrifying to put your thoughts and feelings out on the table without really knowing how someone else will react. Being vulnerable is eye opening. It is a way for people to validate your feelings and keep you grounded. It gives others the opportunity to see more of you, which can help others understand you. And at the end of the day, it feels good to open up and be vulnerable with others. It brings people closer together and it is a way to clear up what’s going on in your mind.

Lesson 7: Perspective matters

From my experience, the most understanding and empathetic people know how to look at a situation from different perspectives. Perspective is another reason why communication is important. Everyone has their own truth because everyone interprets things differently based on their unique background and experiences. Two people can tell you their side of an argument and be deemed correct in their own ways. Therefore, even if you have never experienced it for yourself, a situation may only make sense if you look at it outside of your worldview. 

Lesson 8: Balance all aspects in your life

Life is stressful, especially when we don’t use our time the way we would like or feel we should. If we don’t balance life’s offerings efficiently, it can feel like everything is falling apart. Balance looks different for everyone, so figuring out what a healthy balance of your activities looks like for you is vital. Do not be afraid to add more or take away from your plate. It is okay to share your plate with others, or give away what you do not like or cannot maintain to someone who is willing to accept it. Balancing naturally comes with placing priority among the different areas in your life. You get to decide what carries the most weight and is worth the most time in your life, whether its your hobbies, your family,  your friends, your career path, your love life, etc. Maintaining a healthy mind requires balancing your life. Balancing your life requires self examination.

Lesson 9: Don’t be fake positive 

It is okay to admit when things are going to shit. It is healthier to experience your emotions fully than pretend like everything is fine. Just because things are not okay now does not mean they will never be. It is okay to admit that things are hard right now, but know eventually they will get easier. Saying that you are unhappy, or that something sucks, doesn’t make you bitter, unless that is all you do. Don’t be fake positive and pretend like everything is all sunshine and rainbows when it clearly isn’t. It’s annoying.

Lesson 10: Take time to be grateful

Whether it is once a day, once a month, on holidays or special occasions, remember to take some time to appreciate what you have in your life. It can give you perspective and remind you to take a breather from the stressors of life.

 

Some other tips and lessons I have learned from the past couple of years include:

  • Journaling because writing down your thoughts can help you remember great moments and look at situations differently. It serves as a reminder to the amazing and the difficult days. Journaling is freeing.
  • Allowing yourself to feel your feelings because denying their existence does not make them go away. If anything, your emotions will just build up until the emotions are so overwhelming you explode.
  • Letting the past go because holding tightly onto it will affect your future and has the potential to hold you back.
  • Learning to say no because by being a yes man, you neglect your own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. It’s not enjoyable to do things you don’t want to do.
  • Self-reflecting is important! It can teach you about yourself, explaining why you do or react the way you do. It can help you find patterns in your actions or the actions of others. It can help you hold yourself accountable. It can help you set goals.
  • Everything happens for a reason. I am a believer in the universe and the interconnectedness of the world. Sometimes the reason for a situation occurring may not be philosophical or deep. It could simply be the result of your’s or someone else’s actions. However, most life events can teach you something about yourself, someone else, or the world if you look for it. Though it may not seem like it when you are going through it, later down the line you may be able to see why that situation occurred the way it did. You have to explore and self reflect about it though.

I enjoy symbolism and there is so much of it around the New Year, especially this year, with it being the start of a new decade. It feels like a new chapter. I used to hate New Year resolutions because I thought that they were pointless. In reality, they can help set the foundation for how you want to year to go. They can be used as benchmarks for what you want to accomplish.

Think about these past years and what you have learned, experienced, and enjoyed within them. Then, set your resolutions for the future year. This makes it easier to check in with yourself when the year is over.