This year, like most, was a rollercoaster to say to the least. However, each: up, down, corner and loop-de-loop, provided a little message or moment that stuck with me and I’d like to share some with you. Please enjoy.
number one: There’s no harm in saying hello.
Without a doubt, this lesson was my biggest takeaway from 2017, I cannot express how many new people I met or new friends I made this year just by introducing myself. Trust me – there’s nothing more boring than standing in a never-ending queue trying to stretch the conversation with the people you came with. So, try something different, shake hands with the people behind or in front of you. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, get to know your acquaintances better, you might make a life long friend that you never thought was there.
number two: Don’t live in tunnel vision.
There is nothing worse than looking back on a period of time, i.e. a year, and only be able to recall one particular thing. Whether it be a person, a job or a hobby, I can guarantee it does not require 100% of your attention – 100% of the time. As cynical as it may sound, take a break from things and step back because nothing is permanent and everything is replaceable. Life requires balance, so if you devote your life to one thing you will more often than not miss (potentially) important opportunities.
number three: Do the unexpected – surprise people.
Personally, the biggest “leap” I took involved my complete – hypothetical – career change; I say hypothetical because I’m still in school and these are only possible pathways. Nonetheless, changing from Mathematics B to A and then proceeding to drop my one and only science – Chemistry, was a BIG deal. Yet, this is not a decision I regret whatsoever, even despite the several looks and comments I received from friends, family and teachers alike. Always follow your gut instinct and try new things – you only get one shot at life, don’t live it full of “what ifs”.
number four: Find your outlet.
I spent a large part of my year trying to find what was mine. That’s a weird thing to say but everyone has something they like to call their own: a sport, an art form, a trade etc. As someone who is particularly creative but also extremely hesitant, I struggle with the commitment of calling one thing “my own”. My life consists of unfinished artworks, half written songs, unedited photographs and stagnant word documents. Despite my continual struggle, I do think that it’s imperative that you discover your niche. There’s nothing better than being able to let out your frustrations, worries and inner thoughts in a constructive manner.
number five: Make that call.
Reconnect with an old friend and see how they’re doing. Be mature and settle your differences over the phone (or even better in person). Make that appointment with your doctor/dentist/psychologist/physiotherapist. Wish your friend a happy birthday. Talk to your grandparents. Never, ever hesitate.
number six: Understand the hidden message.
You can always find a greater appreciation for things if you dig a little deeper. You can obtain so much more enjoyment out of a song if you understand its lyrics; a movie if you recognise its symbolism; a book if you read in between the lines. In all honesty, I don’t understand this popularity of just accepting “okay” or “good enough”. Can you truely say that something is your “favourite” just because it sounded nice or didn’t bore you?
number seven: ALWAYS bring a jacket.
Your mum was right you know. You never know when the wind will pick up, or, when you will have a fashion incident and need a quick cover up. So trust me, bring a jacket, you can thank me later.
number eight: Just go anyways.
There really isn’t much harm in saying yes to plans that you think you might not enjoy. Whether it’s a crowd that you don’t hang with all that often, or if its an activity you’re not too fond of. There has been many a time this year where I have considered backing out of plans because I didn’t feel comfortable about them or I just wasn’t in the mood. Let me tell you a secret, I never regretted going, not once. Sure, things can start off awkward but chances are, you’ll warm up to the idea and end up really enjoying yourself. Truth of the matter is, they wouldn’t have invited you if they didn’t enjoy your company!
number nine: It’s okay to turn off.
Sometimes when you’re mad, sad or just wanting to be alone – be alone. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, throw it to the side and remove yourself from the situation or energy that’s weighing you down. More than once I found myself doing this in 2017 because I knew that sometimes it’s better to sit on a thought or “put it on hold” that act irrationally. This was something I found quite difficult to do at first, but I’m glad I mastered the skill eventually. It, without a doubt, saved, and subdued, a lot of arguments and meltdowns.
number ten: It’s good to say yes but, that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to say no.
This is a lesson I recommend that everyone understands and respects. It is always good to put your hand up to do things and be there when someone needs you but, with this consistency, comes reliability. When people know they can count on you, they will often ask you to do extra tasks because they expect you to say yes. Sometimes, however, we get busy and overwhelmed (I know, I’ve been there) so don’t do what I did and become frozen in the fear of letting others down. If you know you’ve got a lot on your plate already, it’s more than okay to say no. Don’t forget to put yourself first, this doesn’t have to mean you’re selfish.