Friday, 13 January 2017

What I've learned from 2016

I'm not really one for reflection, however when my friend asked me what were my best and worst moments of 2016 I was at a loss for an answer. 2016 has felt like both the longest and shortest year I have endured yet, I think there have been numerous times where I have said 'How is it already December and I have fuck all to show for it?' And that is depressing really; a whole year has passed and I don't feel like anything has changed. Perhaps I am wrong, I hope I am wrong, and that is what has inspired this post - lets really look back on 2016 and see what I have learnt from it, if anything.

You know what is best for you

I think this is probably something I can say I have learnt from this year. 2016 is the year that I started to work part time instead of full time at my finance job. I ended up being completely honest with them and told them 'I don't know if this is what I want to do, I don't think I am a 9-5 office person and I need to at least give my other goals a go' I was really lucky that they wanted me to stay on part time with them instead of move on somewhere else. I had a lot of people tell me not to go part time, I was pushed by a lot of well intending people into jobs that I didn't want. I know they mean well, but deep down I've always known I was made for something different. I don't know what the trigger for this year was that made me realise that, 'no, I know what I want, I can't live my life doing only what people have told me'. And I was right. I am so much happier now, I think this is evident not just to me, but those around me. It has been hard, of course, but I believe it is worth it, I do not regret it for a second and just wish I had started earlier. If you know deep down that you're not following something that you actually want to do, if you know that you're doing what is expected of you instead, be brave. This is your life, no one else's. If it is career related like me, you're going to be working for 60 or more years, you want to make sure you're happy. Follow what you want, not what everyone else wants of you.

Being stressed and busy is not an accomplishment

I think we live in a world where seeming to be excessivly busy means you're more succesful than the next person, which pushes everyone to become more and more busy, and therefore more and more stressed. I do not handle stress well, but I didn't want to look like a failure either, so I would join in, trying to pile as much onto my plate as I could, even if I knew I would never finish it. This year, I realised how unhappy this was making me. This year I realised that I really needed to start focusing, and caring for my mental health, and trying to be the busiest person out of my friends wasn't helping that. There seems to be a buzz to being the busiest, most stressed out of your friends, but it was short lived and then overwhelmed by the misery of being overworked. Some people thrive on stress, but that person isn't me, and I've learnt this year to both work and play.

Don't be ashamed of what you enjoy

Unless its illegal or perverse or hurts people, but you get the jist. I used to be so ashamed of the fact that I am a creative person, that I enjoy writing and art. To me I felt like a child if I told anyone, and that it wasn't an 'adult' hobby. I've had this idea reinforced to me by a few people, which is never helpful. Then I started to think about it, and the only reason I'm ashamed of it, is because I don't believe I'm very good at either things, but how can I become good without practising? And why should I care what other people think? Especially of things that make me happy, they're not there when I'm doing it, why let them take something like that from me? I decided not to be ashamed, and it was a choice I had to work at, I still go red when people ask me about my hobbies, but I no longer deny them or pretend they don't exist. And you know what? Most people are really supportive of it, and more important than that, I feel a little pride in saying it now!

Honesty is always the best option 

I have always been worried that I can be a bit blunt, but at the same time I also notice that I will say what people want to hear rather than what I honestly think, I think my response depended on the person. I think it could be a growing confidence in myself, but this year I have tried to be as honest as possible when someone asks me a question, not ignoring their feelings, but knowing the truth may be more helpful. This has come most apparent with friends that have come to me for advise. As I am sure many of you do, I would usually just agree with what they say and be there to comfort more than anything else. However, situations arose this year with people where I thought, if I just comfort them and agree with them, they're going to keep hurting themselves instead of moving towards a happier place, so I was honest, sometimes blunt, but always honest. I even apologised for the honesty, why did I feel bad for telling the truth! The honesty was mostly accepted happily, but would sometimes not be what they want to hear, so it is important to tell people, 'this is what I think, but I will be on your side if you choose to follow it or do something else.' And you know what? I think it has helped my relationships more than being a dormat would ever do.

These are what I've learned from 2016 - what are some of yours? Let me know in the comments below.

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