I think I can speak for everyone when I say 2016 sucked. Maybe 2016 happened to be a great year for you. If so, then I’d like to say congratulations… but not until you show me some proof.
This year was tough. I graduated from college, got a job, moved out, started a relationship– I mean, lots of positive things have happened to me this year. However, this year also happened to be very emotionally taxing. I found myself constantly struggling with my mental health and trying to learn how to hold my own in the professional world while also figuring out how to survive as an independent adult human. It’s one of those situations where you wish you’d of had a crash course or orientation of some sort but that stuff is all over after college. They just hand you your diploma and give you a swift kick in the pants.
This year seemed to fly by pretty quickly, in my opinion, but there are lots of moments that happened that I won’t forget. Here are 8 things I’ve learned this year:
- Mental illness is no joke
I’m sure this is obvious to a lot of people, but this year I learned just how difficult living with mental illness can be. I won’t get into the details but it became more and more frequent that I was waking up with no motivation to get out of bed whatsoever. I started every morning with a mindset that said: “There’s nothing to look forward to, so what’s the use?” On other occasions, that inner monologue wasn’t so tame as “just stay in bed all day”. Sometimes it was angry, loud, and self depreciating. This year, I finally decided to reach out and start seeing a therapist. She’s great. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a session with her but I have an appointment this Tuesday.
2. Being alone is both a blessing and a curse
Most folks my age don’t make the decision to live alone so early in life, but I was in a bit of a hurry to find housing since I started my current job straight out of college. This is my first time living by myself in any capacity, as I’ve had roommates all throughout my college career. I’ve got to admit, I’m a person who thrives on privacy but having another person around forces me to be a bit more “livable”. Roommates are like accountability buddies. If you’re like me, things like leaving a sink full of dirty dishes while living with someone else is quite shameful. When you live by yourself, no one is there to dirty dish shame you into washing the dishes. So occasionally, the only company I have in my apartment is a sink full of dirty dishes just waiting for me to give it some quality time. Luckily, I’ve got a dishwasher here. I got lucky on that one.
But being alone is nice for the obvious reasons like if I want to come home, take my pants off, and spend the rest of my night hanging half-way off my couch while watching Shameless, no one will walk through the living room with their eyes downcast at the floor as I scramble to cover myself up. I value comfort and lets be honest, sometimes it’s nice to come home and have a good cry without someone asking you what’s wrong.
I could continue going into this but there’s much more ground to cover.
3. Your early 20s are weird.
If you check my Facebook timeline right now you’ll find several young adults whom I’ve encountered in my lifetime doing all sorts of things: like moving halfway across the country or having their second kid or eating a bowl of vegan mac n’ cheese. I saw recently that a girl I graduated high school with just bought a house with her high school sweetheart, which is exciting and awesome but it makes me realize just how different these few years of your life can be compared to everyone else;s.
Whoever created the 20-something sitcom storyline where everyone is a big city socialite sipping on cocktails in Downtown Manhattan seriously lied. It’s almost refreshing to see how normal everyone’s life is going but at the same time for the folks who have chosen to blaze their career trails, it’s a little nerve wracking. When are career-driven people supposed to settle down and start families? Is anyone going to tell us when the right time is? Probably not. In your early-20s, life becomes a DIY project. After college (or high school), you’re just left to make whatever you want of it. It’s a beautiful part of growing up but…. seriously, can someone please just tell me what to do with this thing?
4. If you thought 4 years of college went fast, check out every year after you get out of school
Seriously, what the hell? I started my current job in May. Its’s currently December, which means I’ve been employed at a real job for eight months. I mean… seriously, what? Where did the time go?
5. The best relationships are those that come unexpectedly
This is all based on my own personal experience and opinion. Granted, if you would have asked me this a year ago, I would have probably laughed in your face. Being that I am one who hates uncertainty and spent the last year and a half of college as a single and flirty pringle, relationships were nowhere in my list of concerns. I even found that I just preferred not to be involved in one. That was all fine and good until the person who is now my current boyfriend came stumbling into my life. When I say stumbling, I mean it, too. We met at a house party, both of us quite wasted, and spend most of the night chatting with each other on a futon about every deep, dark secret of our lives.
Being as that’s how we met, I’m sure you can imagine how the next few months turned out. We were both at the point in our lives where we were immature and embraced it wholeheartedly. Eventually, life gave us both some pretty heavy wake up calls, although certainly at different moments of our lives. In dealing with all of our growing pains, my boyfriend and I became pretty good friends (even though found myself really wanting to punch him in the throat at the same time). It wasn’t until he got accepted to a school in Michigan that I felt comfortable enough in my feelings and love for him. I realized that I wanted to be with him for the long haul.
Now we’re long distance but still going pretty strong, I’d say. Did I ever expect this to happen in a million years? Absolutely not. But the beauty of it is that I’m in a relationship with someone who became my best friend. Sometimes you make exceptions to your own rules for the right person, and sometimes the right person is a total stranger who walks into your life one drunk evening.
6. A relationship with you true friends is worth the extra maintenance
Life makes friendships a little more disjointed. It’s a staunch contrast from being in high school or college where all of your friends are a text, phone call, or a block away. My two best friends are both an hour away from me, which honestly, isn’t all that bad. When you account for everyone’s busy schedules, though, it seems like everyone is much farther. I find myself going for months at a time without talking to folks that I consider lifelong friends. It never hurts to shoot someone a text and let them know that you miss them and hope they’re doing well. Sure, it’s not as great as hanging out but it shows those people that they’re still quite valuable to your life even though they’re hours away. My friends are the best support system I could ask for, even those who are estranged & I haven’t seen them in months. We make an effort to reach out every once and awhile. Those small gestures and well-wishes mean a great deal.
7. F*cking up is a large part of being human
Now, this one was a hard lesson for me. I mess things up all the time. Some things are bigger than others, and some things affect me much more than they would affect anyone else. I’ve spent a long time being hard on myself when things go wrong. I realize that I worked up this “F*ck Up” quota where I gave myself little to no room for mistakes in my life. Any type of misstep was subject to harsh self-criticism and created a lot of room for self doubt. I made an enemy of myself in this way. It was hard to make amends, but the sooner I was able to forgive myself and accept that messing up is one piece of the human condition, the easier it became to start looking for solutions when I f*cked up instead of pummeling myself with blame.
8. There’s a big world out there & it’s a playground
Self-explanatory. I’m happy to have readily embraced the opportunities that I’ve had to do and see lots of amazing things. Choosing to work in the events industry has lead to lots of interesting work and crossing paths with some amazing people. I hope that 2017 has many more wonderful opportunities and open doors to professional growth in store.
I’ve also shamelessly allowed myself time to go out and have fun with my friends when I have the opportunity. This has proved to be important especially in the way of self-care and my mental health. Hanging out with friends and immersing myself in fun pushes negative thoughts to the back of my mind, which is as simple of an explanation as it gets.
9. Building a relationship with yourself is essential
Being an enemy of myself is hard. I’ve experienced many years of life with a poor self-image and feelings of resentment towards myself. It’s been hell on my mental heath. The day that I figured out that I am the only real, reliable thing I have in this world was a blessing. The realization came at a time where I found myself making decisions that made me feel like I had lost control of myself. After that, I shifted my focus toward learning how to be patient with me and forgiving myself. It’s a new journey, but I actively dedicate energy and efforts to generating positive thoughts and working on gentle encouragement. It’s been a tremendous weight off of my shoulders. I hope that I can keep up the good work.
I think that 2016 was a year of change. Around June, everything I knew and familiarized myself with in my life became memory. Of course, some things have remained the same. In times of weakness, I admittedly find myself clinging to those familiar things. I hope that in 2017 I can readily embrace change with open arms and take many more risks. At least, for the sake of experience.
Thanks for checking out this post! Feel free to comment on some things you’ve learned this year.