I believe humans are nothing if not works in progress. So I think how much you learn over the course of a year is a pretty good way of measuring how successful it was. I know 2016 was an absolute clusterfuck in terms of politics and the world as a whole, but for me, it actually went pretty well.
1. I learned a bunch of stuff about myself
a. I’m not particularly good with money. I never really learned how to handle it. There was a time in my life when I was better with it, when I was constantly worried about whether or not I’d be able to finish my degree, but since then I’ve taken treating myself a little bit too far and one big resolution for 2017 is to get on top of my spending. I even found some goals to save towards so I’m optimistic.
b. I’m pretty self-centered. There are two reasons I don’t like that, one is that it’s just an unpleasant trait to have, and the other is that focusing on yourself and taking yourself too seriously genuinely makes you unhappier than focusing on work, or helping others, or building something. So that is something I want to change next year.
c. Apparently I come across as a little bit hectic. It’s always nice to know what impression you make on others. I don’t feel hectic, but I guess I’m a pretty fast-paced person and people notice that. (Note to self: take three deep breaths and make sure to be calm when wanting to be taken seriously.)
d. I have zero patience with anything or anyone and that is definitely something I need to learn before having kids.
2. I learned that I’m okay alone
Whenever someone told me it’s important to be okay alone, I always thought that was stupid. What’s wrong with being a relationship person and wanting a family?
But the thing is, if you’re not okay with being alone, if you’re in a rush to just be with someone, you’re always going to settle for less than you deserve, and you’re likelier to get hurt.
And I honestly thought I hated being alone. I travelled to Amsterdam alone when I was 19 and it was an awful experience. I got so stuck in my own head and couldn’t escape my own thoughts and anxieties and it was just downright horrible. So for Christmas, when I decided to go to the spa alone, I was expecting at least one breakdown – I imagined I would be in tears, watching “Love Actually” and stuffing myself with Christmas cookies. That did not happen (except of course I did stuff myself with cookies). I had a wonderfully relaxing trip. I’m fine alone now. Maybe next year I’ll go bigger and travel to South-East Asia alone. Who knows! The world is my oyster.
3. I think I learned that I’m enough (but probably not really though)
This one is something I still struggle with because it’s so goddamn hard. But I’ve learned that if it feels like I’ve been pushing too hard and I can’t keep pushing, it’s okay to stop pushing for a few days and just exist. There’s no point in constantly trying to be more and better and chastising myself when I get tired. It makes things worse. I still think it’s a good thing to try and be the best version of yourself. It’s healthy to want to be better than you were yesterday. But at the same time, life is so much easier when you try and believe that you’re enough. You’re skinny enough and you’re pretty enough and you’re worthy enough and loveable enough and you’ve come far enough and it’s all going to be okay. (Note to self: Learn to really believe that in 2017.)
4. I learned that friends are important
I work a lot. Not just at my job, I study a lot and I work a lot and on top of these things I’ve decided to do my driver’s license and learn how to pole dance so the bottom line is, I can be a shit friend who never has time to hang out. And then I feel lonely and guilty. I think my friends understand that I do a million things because I genuinely need to to be happy (and feel worthy – which I know is problematic), and I don’t think they hold it against me too much. Even so, I’m just happier overall when I spend time with people more. (Note to self: FINALLY remember to do that REGULARLY in 2017!!)
5. I learned what it means to believe in yourself
I think believing in yourself gets misunderstood A LOT. It doesn’t mean believing you’re special – you’re not. It doesn’t mean believing you’re entitled to anything in this life, because you’re entitled to jack shit. It doesn’t even mean believing you can do anything and everything, because clearly you can’t. Like no matter how hard I believed I could be a professional gymnast, let’s be honest, I have all the coordination and grace of a blind baby elephant, so yeah. No Olympic medal for me.
And you can work your whole life for something, morning til night, and even have the capacity to reach your goal, and life can take it all away from you. You can study your damn hardest and get a scholarship to Harvard and get through pre-med because you desperately want to be a world-class neurosurgeon and then you get into an accident and lose a hand. You can do your very best and get straight A’s in school and college and work relentlessly towards your dream job and it will go to the boss’s son anyway, because life, my friends, is a fucking bitch.
Believing in yourself means believing that whatever shit life throws at you, you will pull through, and adapt, and come out stronger, because you are not your job and you are not your relationship and you are not a number on a scale or a certificate or a paycheck. The essence of who you are is unshakeable. And I can honestly say I believe in myself like that now.
6. I learned how to drive a car (barely)
My exam is on the 9th of January. After over 40 hours of driving I have figured out what the side-view mirrors are supposed to be good for. Pray for me. (And for everyone else on the road that day.)
7. I learned a whole bunch of professional skills
8. I’m starting to remember who I am
2013 and 2014 in particular were pretty bad years for me. I had just finished uni and had essentially no clue what I wanted to do with my life. People talk about finding themselves, but for me, it was more a case of finding myself again. I remember who I am now. I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my mother had to physically rip the books from my hands when it was time to eat, and yet for years I barely made time to read. I’ve always wanted to dance, but never quite dared to try. I used to take pride in my work and in being independent and achieving my goals, and over the years I stopped caring about independence, or about having things to take pride in.
I started caring more about how people perceived me rather than simply doing my best, always. I followed people’s expectations of me and worried more about what everyone would think and what everyone else was doing. And then of course I started slacking in my performance, because I didn’t really want to do any of the things that I was doing and/or generally had no clue about anything. I lost myself in the crazy world of adulthood and I finally feel like I’m back on track. And I’m gonna stay right on it next year.