What I’ve Learned in 2017

 

There is only a few more hours left in 2017, and I feel like the world is taking a collective sigh of relief. Look, this year has been a doozy for everyone. From the ridicule we, as a country, feel for the actions of our esteemed “leader”, to the natural disasters, the inability for our voted politicians to protect us, to the mass shootings. I mean, just everything has been up in flames this year, literally. California, you okay? 

For me, this was the first year where I really experienced anxiety. I had my own personal pitfalls, and I went through a lot to come out on this side; feeling better, and working towards goals. 

Fortunately, this experience has taught me a lot. In 2017, I set the goal to “grow”. I realized my immature tendencies, I acknowledged my inability to remain consistent, and I set out to learn how to better myself. As ambitious as that sounds, for me, it wasn’t a tangible goal like I had hoped. I felt like I was on a quest for an answer, but, I didn’t know the question I was asking. I filled two journals, read a lot, and dug deep to find what it was that I was missing and what is was that I wanted. About two months ago, the question came to me after an absolutely dreadful night at work. 

Since then, pieces have fallen together and I’ve spent a lot of time honing in on the things that matter most to me. It’s hard to realize your flaws, but, I’m glad I did. Here are a few things I’ve learned this past year. 

  1. You’re not always going to have it all together

It’s very easy for people to look at the surface and assume that you’re exactly where you want to be.  For me, it’s an especially assumption. I’m married, I’m very good at my job, I own a home, I have a cute dog, I have a great group of friends, and a strong family connection; it’s all there, right? 

The hardest part of 2017 was lifting that veil to unveil that I didn’t have everything I wanted. It’s not to say I’m “unhappy“, it’s just to say I want more. I’m intrinsically motivated, so, I’m constantly striving to do more. I buried that truth deep until that fateful day in November where I realized so many of my dreams were on the back burner. The proudest moment for me is seeing how my decision-making process has changed from a very impulsive and “throw it until it sticks” process to “plans”, and “learning”. Growth happens when you least expect it, I suppose. 

2. There are best friends, and, there are acquaintances.

By far, this has been the HARDEST thing for me to cope with. I am a very “black or white” type of person. When you function in that type of mentality your thought process is very concrete. 

At work, it serves its’ purpose. Either the salt and pepper shakers are full, or you need to fill them. Your party is for a set time, with a set timeline, with a set menu. Working within those parameters allows me to be creative and problem solve well. When one thing functions smoothly, you can focus on fixing any cracks in the foundation effectively. 

It helps socially, too. It helps me avoid small talk, it helps me assess if someone will be my friend or not quickly, and, it protects me from allowing the wrong people into my bubble. I’m a protective and fierce friend, so I try not to let just anyone in. 

While it works for me, in friendship, it can cause friction. Look, I’m not the type of person who can go unfazed by an unanswered text. In a world where we are ALL on our phones ALL the time, there’s no excuse not to answer. It’s the black and white mentality:  To me, “you’re either my friend that will be there for me when my life throws me a 400 pound curve ball, or, you’re not my friend.” Unfortunately, not everyone can handle that mindset. This year has served as a good reminder that there are going to be “best friends”, “good friends”,  and the rest are just acquaintances. The good ones are vital, and, the ones who can’t return a friendship, well, they’re okay to let go. 

3. Your Personality Traits Are Very Important

Literally nobody believes me when I say that I am actually introvert. It’s testament to how stereotypes play a role in perceptions. I am very social when around people, but, it’s because I CHERISH my time alone. For example, I spent 15 minutes in my car last night hyping myself up to go inside my house because people were visiting Mark & I had to break my habit of going home and being able to have quiet time. I love the people who were visiting, too. It’s just my mindset. I spent the day around people and I was drained. But, I had to muster something before entering because I didn’t want to come off as a bitch. 

Unknowingly, this has played a major role in achieving some of my goals, too. In order to achieve any type of success you need to have a certain persona, especially on social media. You need to be “on”, which is hard when sometimes, you’d rather be off. I’m “on” 12 hours a day at work, I’m “on” when I’m with Mark, I’m “on” when with friends, so when do you find the “off” time?  I’m still working it out, but, learning more about my INFP strengths and weaknesses is certainly helping. 

4. “You” are Enough.

I recently submitted an article to Thought Catalog that I was particularly proud of. It was genuinely me; descriptive writing, a story within a story, and a lesson that I needed to learn. It’s how I’ve always written in the privacy of my word documents, however, it was a style of writing I have never shared with anyone else. 

It was published, with the note from one of the editors stating “This is great writing“. Mark read it and said “You need to write like this more.” Slowly, feedback has come in all with the same theme; “do this more.”

For me, it was an eye-opening moment. Here I am, writing all the time but scared to share it. All along, it was enough. As I close 2017, a year of learning and growth, the most important lesson to take with me into 2018 is that I am enough. What I write, what I photograph, what I do, who I am: it’s all enough. We, as people, are all enough. No one can take that away from us. 

Tonight will be a long night, but, it’s one I always look forward to. The energy of everyone celebrating the new year ignites me to do the same. While I’m not usually a “resolution” person, in 2018, I plan on taking these lessons with me. I’m excited for 2018, and I’m excited to see where this all takes me. 

 

Happy New Year, everyone.