3 Lessons I’ve Learned in 2015

26 Dec

2015 New Year celebration

I’ve always been a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve figured that the key to good resolutions is in the specifics. You can’t say “Be healthier.” It needs to be something trackable like “Eat a salad once a week” or “Work out twice a week.” I’m not one to lecture on these things, though, since I only went one-for-five on my resolutions this year. But I made significant progress toward the other four, so that’s a start!

I read somewhere on the inter webs this week an article a girl had written about her lessons learned over the year. I can’t for the life of me find it, but the idea of it stuck with me. It’s not enough to set goals moving forward, we also have to look back and choose what lessons we take with us.

I’m surprised at how hard I had to stew in my thoughts to figure out what are the things I’ve learned this year. Of course, there were a million mini-revelations like finding the right shade of lipstick for my pale skin tone and just how much money I save by packing lunch (so much money!). But I turned to my diary to recap the year and see if there were any grander life lessons to be gleaned.

LESSON #1: TRUST THAT GUT FEELING

In the relationships of my past, I spent a lot of time trying to make things work, hoping things fell into place. I’d make excuses about timing and how things can develop. But as I get older, I realize that voice inside of me that quietly whispers, “This ain’t going to work” shouldn’t be ignored. I’ve always been open to giving someone a chance, but at some point, you know. You know in your heart of hearts that this person isn’t YOUR person. This was the year I decided I was done with settling for anything less than amazing. It saved me time and heartbreak and saved the lovely people I dated time and heartbreak to accept that moving forward wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t a set of deal-breakers or standards that I set. It was trusting my heart when it told me to move on.

LESSON #2: A NIGHT IN IS A VALID AND ACCEPTABLE OPTION

I love going out with my friends. I love trying new things and meeting new people. But for a long time I measured my life by how amazing my nights out were. And if I found myself home without plans on a Friday or Saturday night, I almost felt like I was in a panic. What did that say about my life? I’m in my twenties, shouldn’t I be out on the town having adventures? Is my life as exciting as those I see on Instagram?

When I was a senior in high school, I had an odd falling out with my best friend at the time. We stopped talking, and I was ostracized from my social circle. I spent months with nothing to do on my weekends. So I started going to music shops and book shops alone and buying NME magazine, the New Yorker, Harper’s. I’d spend my evenings listening to Brit Pop, the Velvet Underground, David Bowie. I’d read my dorky literary magazines and write for hours in my diary and other notebooks. I eventually made new friends who have remained some of my closest friends to this day. The point is, I used the time alone on my own to grow, to give time to things that I loved and was interested in. I brooded on existential questions about what I wanted out of life and I made collages of cool bands from the magazines I read.

I loved those nights, and I’ve brought them back. I treasure my nights in reading, writing, cooking, studying. I learned to stop caring about whether my life is as glamorous as it could be.

LESSON #3: INVEST IN SMALL KINDNESS

Here’s a key to instant happiness: do something nice for someone else. It doesn’t have to be big. I got paper valentines for my girlfriends in February. I bought my friend who was having anxiety issues a small book about breathing and introductory meditation. I tried to smile and be as nice as possible to cashiers and waiters. No matter what. Even on my worst days when I curse the city, the subway, the weather, the smells, the everything. In fact, those are the days when I needed it the most. By smiling and making a genuine effort to be kind, I found that the kindness was mirrored right back to me. It didn’t take much to make my forced smile become a natural one. If I made a stranger’s day better, so be it. If I reminded friends and family that I love them and appreciate them, that’s great! Being kind to people is never a bad idea.

 

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One Response to “3 Lessons I’ve Learned in 2015”

  1. wiseone December 26, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    This is all so true.

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