Sometimes the old lesson is the new lesson.
New year’s is definitely a weird time for me. Normally, I’m pretty happy to see the ass-end of the old year and embrace the new year; collectively, too, it seems like the last few years have been rough. (I’m not sure which celestial body to blame for that.) With my birthday in January, I generally take this time to reflect on the year and set intentions for the new one, so by the time my birthday rolls around, I’m ready to hit the ground running.
Don’t get me wrong, 2018 has been rough, but I’m also a little sad to see it go — I’ve grown a lot in the last year, even if a lot of it has been painful and eye-opening. I came into the year with big goals, but it had wayyyyyyy different plans for me.
I realized that a lot of the lessons 2018 had for me were lessons that I thought I had already learned, I’ve come to accept that time sometimes has a way of changing the shape of things; sometimes, the thing you really need to learn is a thing you thought you already knew.
Here are the four biggest things I learned (or-relearned) in 2018:
You. Need. To. Rest.
I feel like y’all are probably getting sick of me writing about self-care, but this year was the year I really fell of the self-care train; not in the ritualistic, putting on a face mask every Tuesday and watching Sabrina on Netflix kind of way, but in the disconnecting, powering down, and taking vacations kind of way.
I was mired in my work and it had gotten to the point where I was checking my work email on my phone before I went to bed and as soon as I woke up in the mornings – even on the weekends. And like my job is important, but it’s not that important, y’all. But I had gotten sucked into this weird productivity/connectivity loop, even as I was writing here about the importance of disconnecting – even as I was writing at my real-person job about the importance of work-life balance! I was feeling ragged, and something had to give.
It wasn’t until I took a week off to travel at the end of summer and then had to replace my phone (and all my contacts, my apps, my photos…) that I realized how much I had neglected my need to rest and disconnect from work. I set some firm boundaries with myself, and I’ve been pretty good about keeping them, and honestly, my mental health and my physical health (save from this plague I’m fighting) has never felt better. Here’s to hoping it sticks this time…
Success Is Not A Straight Line
When I first starting working in my industry, I thought this was a stopgap until I found the thing I was truly passionate about. Don’t get me wrong; I liked the work I did – put me in front of a computer and tell me to write, brainstorm, and create for my bread, and I’ll be pretty happy about it — but the longer I stayed there while I tried to ~figure out my life~, reaching for a goal that I didn’t even know would make me happier, the more stuck I felt. I shrunk, and my work suffered.
I truly believed that I wasn’t supposed to be there, even as people told me my job was super cool, and my colleagues supported me and bolstered me up, and I saw the work I did impact thousands of people in my company. I had absorbed this narrative that I’d written for myself that I was supposed to be doing one thing, that I needed to do that thing, but really, I had found something that I could be passionate about, albeit in an odd and unexpected corner of the universe.
Once I loosened my grip a little on the idea that I needed to do this one thing by a certain time in my life, it felt like the floodgates had opened. I was more creative at work, I had more energy for my work, I felt friendlier, more open — and, I had more energy for creative projects when I came home. As soon as I let go, what I wanted came to me, just not in the way I expected.
The point here is this – it’s great to have goals, but be open to the paths the universe presents you as you move through life. You may think you want one thing, but you need another; maybe you really do want that one thing, but you can scratch that itch in a completely different way than you thought possible.
Ask the Dang Question
I have a personal theory about people; I believe we go through four-year cycles of knowledge. In year 1, people feel like they know nothing, and ask questions all the time — they’re curious, they learn quickly, they absorb everything around them, they’re creative and adaptive and dynamic.
But as they learn more and more and understand more and more, they stop needing to ask questions, so they stop learning — sometime between year 2 and 3. Then, they think they know everything they need to know, and they get cocky, and stop seeking out knowledge, or make assumptions about what is being communicated to them. Finally, the universe slaps them upside the face, making them realize, again, they know nothing — year 4. The cycle starts anew.
This happened to me a couple of times this year. I’ve spent 2018 waffling between feeling like I know everything and knowing nothing, and I’ve gotten bit in the butt by making assumptions about what other people know or what I need to know. I’m walking out of this year with a mantra in my heart, and I hope it will break this cycle: “Ask the dang question.”
Don’t assume that you know, or that you don’t need to know. Be curious, seek out knowledge, learn more from others, have productive conversations with the people you know and love. If the question crosses your mind, don’t hush it — just ask it.
Get Good with Yourself
Another embarrassing realization I had this year – as much as I was preaching “you do you” and “don’t let haters get you down,” I realized I was still making a lot of my decisions based off of what others would think of me, from my career path and dreams, to the things I did with my free time, to the most trivial preferences, all based on what other people had told me was ‘cool’ or ‘right for me’ or ‘so you’.
This is something that’s hard when you’re writing about fashion and trends — sometimes you get so swept up in the new and the aesthetic of things that you forget to take a step back and ask yourself why you like something. There’s nothing wrong with liking things that everyone else likes, of course, as long as you like it because it makes you happy or gives you something valuable in return, and not because everyone else likes it.
Through some of the work I did in therapy, I realized that I had ignored an important voice that should have been guiding me. My goal for 2019 is to nurture that voice and to listen to it more, so that it can guide me to the truest version of myself.
What do you think?
What did you learn in 2018? What are you taking with you into 2019? Let me know in the comments below!