Another year in the books

We all do it. We all try to erase our mistakes of the past year and ring in the New Year with some outrageous expectations which often fall short about 3 months in. Resolutions slowly break apart, and then you promise yourself that “next year will be THE year.” What does the “THE year” mean though? Too often we measure years by the exciting events or life altering changes that take place. Why do we do that? Trust me, I’m guilty of it too, but it bothers me, because why can’t ever year be “THE year?” Every second of every day we are learning something new, discovering something about ourselves that we didn’t know the day before. I think that’s pretty cool, so that’s what I decided to focus on. I decided to focus on one major theme of the year, rather than a bunch of random exciting events that will probably mean nothing to me later down the road. What’s the theme, you ask? Self-discovery.

This year has been full of surprises, both good and bad. I lost some friends, but also gained some amazing ones too. I rekindled a friendship with my dad after many years of a rocky relationship. I fell head over heels in love with a guy who has given me a totally different perspective on life, in a good way. One of my blog posts went viral, and I got to connect some of the best strangers from all over the world. I reached fitness goals that I never envisioned as attainable, boosting my self confidence higher than ever before. And most of all, I got a better idea of who I am and where I’d like to be.

I thought of all these things last night, and wondered what they all meant. Why did all these things happen? I realized that they happened because 2013 gave me a better idea of what I want for myself. I want to feel loved, be loved, and give love. I have compiled a list of what I’ve learned in 2013: “The Year of Self Discovery.”

Foster relationships that mean something to you. —We meet new people every single day, but a small percentage of those people will leave a lasting impact. When you meet someone who makes you laugh uncontrollably, or even someone who makes you feel good about yourself, invite them into your life. Not literally; please don’t send invitations out to random people “welcoming them in to your life,” that’s just weird, but keep in touch with them. You’ll always regret letting what could be a good friendship go to waste. Also, make sure you maintain relationships with people that have been there all along. I have some of the best high school friends in the world and without them, I have no idea how I’d survive.  Going away to college doesn’t always mean completely stowing away your past.

Stick up for yourself and never be a bystander.–I’m a girl. I gossip and I have said some things about people that I regret. But after being exposed to people who thrive off drama to keep themselves entertained, I have realized that I want no part of that lifestyle. Enjoy an individual’s strong points rather than focusing on their flaws. Looking for the positive qualities in other people will allow you to live a much happier and fuller life. If you see or hear something you don’t like, say something. Furthermore, never let anyone push you around. Stick up for yourself. You may lose some people in the process, but if they hate you for staying true to yourself, then they were never meaningful people in your life anyways.

Go for it.–This applies to anything in life. Too often we focus on what bad could come out of a situation and don’t think about what great things could come out of it. If it doesn’t go how you planned, don’t let it ruin your life. Trust me, our brains can handle a tough break. I’m sure you’ve dealt with worse. So, if you do “go for it,” and it comes back and smacks you in the face, it’s going to be OK, I promise. Take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way and allow yourself to learn from what comes out if it.

Be grateful.–Studies have shown that by saying a simple “Thank you,” you can boost your inner happiness. So, try it out. Don’t just say “thank you” to your mom because she filled your gas tank, text her on a random day just saying thanks. Leave an extra dollar in the tip jar at the local coffee shop, because by doing that, I’m sure you’ve made someone else smile. Always remember that someone is always having a worse day than you are, so a simple kind and grateful gesture can make all the difference.

Spend some time with yourself every day.–I’m not sure what bothers me more. Tacky bumper stickers or people that always have to have people around every second  of everyday. Call me crazy, but people can be rather annoying some times. This year I focused on setting a time of day where I would be completely alone to gather my thoughts and simply because being alone is pretty awesome. You’ll appreciate the company of others more when you’re content with just being your own company. Does this make me sound like a loner? Eh, whatever.

If you get asked out on a date, always say yes (there could be some exceptions to this rule).-I guess this kind of dips in to 2012 a little, but it took me a few months after to realize the value of going out on a date with someone you aren’t necessarily dating. I forgot that girls actually can get asked out on dates before making out with someone. I went on a date with a friend at the end of last year and it was definitely a night that I always look back on and smile. It was nice just going out and talking to someone who actually enjoyed my company without any hidden intentions. I feel like too many girls think that getting asked out on a date is, like, creepy. Why? You’re not marrying the kid. Go on the date, for God’s sake. You never know what could come out of it. The worst case scenario is that you have an awful time, but then you just have a good “bad-date story,” to tell. People are pretty cool, and if you took the time to get to know someone over a plate of pasta, it could lead to a night that you’ll never forget.

Embrace your story.–I’ve always tried to run away from stupid mistakes I have made in the past. I’ve attempted to stuff them in a box and bury them hundreds of feet into the ground. That got me absolutely nowhere. Your past is never going to escape you, no matter how hard you try. Instead of trying to erase it, try to find some constructive way of using to it make a better version of yourself. Don’t be embarrassed by it. What happens, happens. It’s called life. I decided to share one of my past mistakes with the world. This mistake has been a nightmare that I’ve tried for so long to forget. But, the fact was, I couldn’t. So, I took this nightmare and incorporated into something that I loved to do, which is write. Doing this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only did it help me embrace what happened, it touched the hearts of so many people that I never expected. Embrace your story, because I’m sure you’ve got a pretty beautiful one to tell.

Write, write, write.–Some people don’t believe me, but writing is one of the best medicines out there. I’ve always loved writing. I have dozens of journals that I have filled throughout the years, but starting this blog in May has truly been a blessing. If you read my journals, the writing style is pretty much the same, but a blog allows everyone to read it. I was unsure if I wanted to broadcast my personal thoughts, because I didn’t think anyone would really care. But people do care. Even if you don’t want to publish your life the way I do, I do encourage that you start a journal. A journal is a friend who passes no judgement, and can be the best listener out there. It will never tell you that you’re wrong, it will never correct your grammar mistakes, and it will still be there even if you write “I HATE YOU.” Write a paragraph, or write 20 pages, a journal will never give up on you, even when you think the rest of the world has.

Cry.–Why is crying frowned upon? Crying and being alone are two of my favorite past times. Yes, I understand that you now probably not only think I’m a loner, but a depressing one at that. But, I’m not at all. Like smiling, crying is a natural human emotion. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes all we need is to cry. Don’t let your emotions build up to the point where you feel like there is no escape. Crying isn’t a weakness, it’s proof that we are all human. It’s proof that you are acting on your emotions and not trying to escape them. In my eyes, crying is admirable. What’s important is finding a way to channel these tears to something more positive; something that will help you escape from the predicament that made you cry in the first place. For example, whenever I cry I write. It allows me to clear my mind and focus on something more constructive. Find something that clears your mind and something that will help you bring back your bright smile.

Find what makes you, you, and run with it.–Easier said than done. I guess what I’ve learned is the key to finding who you are is finding what makes you happy. What’s tricky about this is sometimes we think we find things that make us happy but often times these things only keep us happy for a short period of time. No, girls, that Michael Kors bag does NOT provide you with true happiness, hate to break it to you. Find things that make you a better person. These “things” can be found in friendships that you make with people, hearts that you break, places you visit, or anything really. It took various fights, tears, and experiences to find out what I wanted in life, and I’m still trying to figure it out. The first step is realizing what you most certainly don’t want, and going from there. Focus on people and places who make you a better version of yourself. I feel like so many people are ashamed of the person they are. Sure, you can hate some of the decisions you have made in the past, but that doesn’t make you, you. You’re far more than that. I’m sure if you took the time to focus on what makes you genuinely happy, you will learn to love yourself. Run with the person you are, don’t change for anybody.

The list could continue for pages and pages, but I tried to highlight some of the ones that meant the most to me. I’m sure you all have your own lists that you aren’t aware of. Take some time ALONE, and think about it. What did this year bring to you? It doesn’t matter if you backpacked around Europe for a month or just sat on your bed for a majority of the time watching Friends re-runs. Every year brings a year of new year of experiences. These new experiences shape the people we become whether we are aware of it or not. Did you share in my year of self-discovery or did you experience something else? Think about it.

Cheers to the New Year, and cheers to you.


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