Six Lessons from 2019

2019 was one of the hardest years of my life. I absolutely went through the ringer with this one and it’s another post for another time when more healing is done but in light of the hardships I gave my all into showing up as my best self for myself. There was a lot of tragedy that followed me this year but with that the bright moments stood out that much more vividly. I have incredible love for the lessons I’ve learned and so much respect for the girl I was that pushed through to get me to this version of myself. Here are some memorable lessons of 2019 that made this year worth it:

  1. Learning to be “strong vulnerable” and take control of what I share with people on a case by case basis, no putting up a cold brick wall but no opening up to people who don’t deserve or can’t be trusted with below surface level thoughts and feelings.
  2. Show up as the person you needed when you were younger. One of the hardest things I did this year was share my mental health/not ideal childhood story as a speaker for a seminar for freshman girls. It was the first time I had ever told my story in full, I included details that I haven’t even shared with a partner or friend. This was terrifying for me but I knew when I was at that age it would have been reassuring to know that it got better for someone older than myself and that I didn’t have to be ashamed for being a victim of things outside of my control. I went in it with hopes that it would help one kid at least but instead it opened up a whole dialogue at the event which made it so worth it to me. I realized that I absolutely am the person I need now, and being able to show up for others was the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had.
  3. Try new things. This year I got into: refurbishing furniture, thrifting, painting solely with a knife, wood carving, sewing and so much more. I feel happier when I have a creative outlet and I absolutely don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it. Following curiosity has led me to learning great skills.
  4. Healthy risk-taking is important. I was in a place where I felt small and needed to restore trust in myself with myself so I booked a trip to a random country in Europe because it was unknown to me and my friend proposed the adventure. I legit lost sleep over this very unplanned, unorganized trip but by day 2 I let go in whatever the journey brought my way and learned to just be.
  5. Take a break from dating, drinking, people…whatever. I felt a lot of people in my life didn’t have good intent for being in my life especially to know me as a multifaceted human. On further introspection, I wasn’t sure if I was the best advocate for myself in general so when I got back from my trip I took 50 days to not even entertain the thought of dating, I also took a huge break from drinking even casually. I wanted to rebuild and restore myself and not give any pieces to anything that didn’t serve me or have my best interest in mind. So I decided to rebuild and restore furniture. Looking back, I didn’t see the coincidence but along with that I was building upon what was discarded and broken in many ways. I came out of this break feeling incredible, I naturally moved into healthier habits, relationships and mental states. I used this time to heal.
  6. My brother was really ill this time last year and it broke my heart every single day to know he was hurting. He is my favorite person in the universe. I realized what real love was within the hurt because it was the first time I wanted to take someone’s tremendous burden for them so they could enjoy life. He got better and I’m now more grateful for the health of my loved ones more than ever.
  7. I saw a church sign this year that said “When God doesn’t open a door then praise him in the hallway,” I’m not very religious but it resonated with me that just because my time for things to get moving isn’t now, that doesn’t mean I can’t make the most of this metaphorical hallway. I was in the “hallway” for a while and I decided to make it the best hallway. I’ll be there again in life but with plenty of gratitude and love to give.
  8. To be completely honest, I know my worth, the work I’ve put into myself and although it’s hard to not be angry at those who took advantage of my resources/energy/empathy in the past, I know I have to just hope the best for them. I’ve been a bad partner, friend or family member only at times where I was really suffering and didn’t know how to channel my hurt. Hurt people really do hurt people, trying to emotionally dominate is a sign of weakness and not having evolved coping mechanisms. This goes for the person that withdraws attention for power or the person that needs to have what you have to “validate” themselves. You carry unhealthy relationship dynamics and patterns from your childhood with you into every relationship you have until you do the work to realize them and break them. Learn your relationship attachment style and it’s roots, work on that. Learn your responses to stress. Do you self-sabotage? Do you freeze up or burn bridges? Recognize why you do the things you do because then you can get to work on them (self-help, therapy, whatever). You deserve to set yourself up for a healthy future.

I have a great feeling about 2020 but mainly because I have a great love for what has led me to this point in time. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the boxes of rain that showed up at my door because in figuring out what to do with them- I have realized in itself they were the best gift.

Reflecting on Early Adulthood…so far

Recently, I’ve felt like I have started a new chapter in my life. Not necessarily on purpose but just naturally. I’ve been more focused and have had more direction with my life this year. I think part of it may be due to turning 24, which is still so young in the grand scheme of things but a number that I’ve always thought kicked off adulthood.

I’m writing this on the anniversary of when I set roots in this city for the first time. I was 22 and carried no idea if each year ahead would bring a move or what would change in my life that year. I can tell you that when I moved here I was naive enough to try to plan out my whole life on a timeline. In retrospect, I didn’t even know who I was. I was only just starting to learn about my passions and was still driving around a half broken minivan that I had spent the summer camping out in at concerts or driving to my job in from my parents house 50 minutes away the first two months after graduation. Turns out that getting the job, having a relationship and living on your own does not make you an adult. I took all of those things seriously but looking back, I had hardly made any personal growth since the end of college and I now see a girl who was playing pretend.

23 brought hard life lessons and a sense of coming into myself, experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world but a sense of being lost. Things felt kind of stagnant and I wasn’t miserable but felt frustrated and slightly stuck. I saw a sign driving past a church once that said “when God doesn’t open a door then praise him in the hallway,” it resonated with me because I metaphorically felt like I was in the hallway just waiting for any door to open. And maybe I didn’t see the doors open but 23 was also the year I started to travel which led to me putting my career above all else, my first confident sense of direction in what I wanted to do or could do with my life. It was the year that I got diagnosed with pretty severe adult ADHD and so much of my past had clicked from the way I handled relationships to why I found it impossible have any type of organizational system. Maybe I’ll write about that diagnosis later but it came with hope and relief, because I had factual data on how my brain functions and no longer felt “doomed.” I started feeling in control of my life that much more.  I moved into a new apartment, I became more intuitive and started actively learning about myself. I gained a lot of independence by letting myself spend time alone to get to know myself.

23 was a year of learning but 24 has brought the most change that I think will stick with me. I started becoming confident in my abilities professionally and mentally. I started picking up every hobby that I wanted to without fear of “sucking” or being judged. I started learning healthy boundaries and being appropriately empathetic without taking someone’s feelings on as my own. 24 came with a lot of loss but also a lot of bravery. I also have a greater sense of gratitude for the friends I have and even the lessons I learned from people who have hurt me. 24 has been more of a quiet acceptance of the inevitable but faith in my ability to handle it. I know that I’ll always make mistakes, have lapses of judgment and I will be at the sharp end of the sword with people I care about again- but I’m not holding myself to an insane standard anymore and I now see how this all has shaped me into the person I’m becoming.

I’m not sure what the future will bring, no one really ever is. I don’t know where I’ll be in life a year from now. I have no inkling where I’ll end up living, if I’ll have a partner or who the people I surround myself with will be. For the first time, I’m actually okay with this. Everything that has happened has lined up with the becoming of the person I am today. There’s been pain and tragedy scattered throughout but along with has been some of the most beautiful moments and stories I can’t tell without intense laughter too. Even writing about this is big for me, as it makes me feel vulnerable but it’s another way that I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone.

There are more lessons to come and more identity to find but I’m really excited to see who I end up being. I know I’ll feel lost again or confused but I now know it comes in waves, but I appreciate the experiences I’ve had that have given me the tools to get through them. For now, I’m enjoying just being and the crazy experience that is life during early adulthood.